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How Long Before I Can Drive After Knee Replacement

Tips For Traveling After Knee Replacement Surgery

Driving After a Knee Replacement: When is it Safe?

Knee replacement surgery is a major procedure often employed when nonsurgical and conservative treatments fail to deliver adequate results to a damaged knee joint. This surgery involves the removal of a damaged knee joint and replacement of it with an artificial joint.

One of the most significant concerns of those who undergo knee replacement surgery is how fast they can recover, so they can begin traveling again. Whether its for work or vacation, traveling is a common activity that all of us partake in.

Traveling can involve a few minutes to several hours of inactivity, depending on the distance you are traveling. Inactivity can lead to issues such as pain, swelling, and deep vein thrombosis .

To avoid DVT and other complications, here are some tips for traveling after knee replacement surgery.

The Biggest Mistake With Pain Managment

The biggest mistake most people make is not utilizing the opioids to their fullest extent early when they are really needed, focusing on restoring range of motion first and foremost. If the range task lingers, so will the opioid use, they go together hand in glove.

If youve restored your range of motion and are slowly progressed your strength exercises you should not have a great deal of pain going forward.

The longer one takes an opioid prescription, the more difficult it will be to get off opioids after knee replacement surgery, which leads into this next section about the consequences of using a lot of opioid pain medication prior to surgery.

When Will It Be Safe For You To Drive

The only person who can tell you exactly when you can drive again is your orthopedic surgeon. When you go for follow-up appointments after TKA surgery, you can ask how soon it will be before it is safe for you to drive.

In addition, if youre using a walker or other assistive device, or if walking long distances is a challenge after knee arthroplasty, you may want to ask for a disabled parking placard.

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Helping You To Make A Speedy Recovery After A Total Knee Replacement

Your insurance company should be informed about your operation. Some companies will not insure drivers for a number of weeks after surgery, so its important to check what your policy says. Normally, it is safest to avoid driving for 8 weeks after a knee replacement. Discuss this with your insurance provider.

Driving – An exercise

Before resuming driving, you should be free from the sedative effects of any painkillers you may be taking. You should be comfortable in the driving position and able to safely control your car, including freely performing an emergency stop. After 6 weeks, you might want to test your fitness to drive, though discuss this with your physiotherapist first. Do this in a safe place without putting the key in the ignition. Simply sit in the driving seat and practise putting your feet down on the pedals. Again, build up gradually. If you feel pain, stop immediately. If you feel sore afterwards, you may need to wait a day or two and try again. Only when you can put enough pressure on the pedals to do an emergency stop – without feeling any reluctance or inhibition – should you think about driving again.

Why It Is Done

Knee replacement pain: Management and when to see a doctor

Doctors recommend joint replacement surgery when knee pain and loss of function become severe and when medicines and other treatments no longer relieve pain. Your doctor will use X-rays to look at the bones and cartilage in your knee to see if they are damaged. This helps the doctor make sure that the pain isn’t coming from somewhere else.

Doctors may not recommend knee replacement for people who:

  • Have poor general health and may not tolerate anesthesia and surgery well.
  • Have an active infection or are at risk for infection.
  • Have osteoporosis .
  • Have severe weakness of the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh.
  • Have a knee that appears to bend backward when the knee is fully extended , if this condition is due to muscle weakness or paralysis.
  • Are severely overweight. Replacement joints may be more likely to fail in people who are very overweight.

Some doctors will recommend other types of surgery if possible for younger people and especially for those who do strenuous work. A younger or more active person is more likely than an older or less active person to have an artificial knee joint wear out. People who are very overweight are also more likely to have an artificial knee joint wear out from the extra stress on the joint.

Also Check: How To Remove Scar Tissue From Knee Surgery

How Soon Can I Stand Up Or Walk After Knee Replacement Surgery

Youll start standing and walking on your new knee almost immediately just a few hours after surgery. Movement is key to a successful recovery.

At first, youll take short walks for example, from your bed to the bathroom and around your room. Within 24 hours, youll have your first physical therapy session where youll be taught specific exercises to strengthen your knee and increase mobility with your new joint.

Frequently Asked Questions After Hip Replacement

Please read this carefully…

Q: When do I see the doctor after surgery?

A: 3 weeks after surgery.

Q: When can I shower?

A: Immediately. NO BATHS or soaking. Your dressing is waterproof. Dab dry after shower.

Q: When can I drive?

A: Usually you can resume driving after you are off your pain medication and feel strong enough and safe enough to drive. If surgery was performed on your left leg, assuming you don’t drive a manual transmission vehicle you can start driving once off narcotic pain medication. If surgery was performed on your right leg, you can typically resume driving between 3-4 weeks after surgery.

Q: Will I have bruising after surgery?

A: Yes. You will have some degree of bruising after surgery but everyone is different. Some will only experience redness around the incision. Others will have bruising down the entire leg. Both are considered normal and will typically resolve over 10-14 days.

Q: Do I need to clean the incision?

A: No. Please call us if you notice any significant drainage on the dressing.

Q: When can I stop taking the blood thinner ?

A: The usual length of time is 4 weeks post-operatively.

Q: How long do I have to follow hip precautions for my hip replacement?

A: 6 weeks. When you feel like you have returned to your normal activity level, are off pain medications and comfortable you may typically remove the precautions.

Q: How much weight can I put through my leg after surgery?

Q: Can I go up and down stairs?

Q: What positions can I sleep in?

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Can A Knee Replacement Patient Play Sports

Many patients find that they are more active after their knee replacement. Their old, arthritic knees kept them sedentary, and their new, artificial knees allow them to be more active.

Whether and when a patient can return to a specific sport depends on the patient, the type of knee replacement surgery, the knee prostheses, and the sport. In general:

  • Swimming, cycling, and golfing are safe .
  • Jogging and basketball and other sports that are likely to put pressure on the new knee are not safe, as they may cause the prostheses to wear out prematurely.
  • Certain sports, such as doubles tennis, may be played at a relaxed pace.
  • Downhill skiing, skating, and other sports with a risk of falling may be resumed cautiously only by patients who:
    • Were proficient at the sports before surgery
    • Understand the risks

Patients are advised to consult with their surgeons about specific athletic goals.

How Soon Can You Drive After Knee Replacement

Driving After Joint Replacement Surgery

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After total knee replacement surgery, most patients experience better mobility and function with less pain. As my patients get back to daily activities, they often ask me How soon can I drive after my knee replacement surgery?

The answer depends on a number of factors. There are temporary driving restrictions for the safety of my patients and their loved ones.

Do not drive if youre on narcotic medication. Narcotic pain medication can negatively affect your mental alertness and reaction time.

Your ability to drive also depends on which knee was replaced. With a left total knee replacement, you may be able to drive an automatic transmission vehicle in as little as two weeks without the use of narcotics. If you drive a manual transmission car or truck, it will take a few weeks longer before your left leg is strong enough to operate the clutch.

For a right total knee replacement, driving isnt recommended for at least four weeks or longer. This ultimately depends on how soon you regain your pre-surgical reflexes and muscle strength.

Be sure to take extra precautions when you approach a green light as your breaking speed may be altered for several weeks after the surgery. If you do experience pain in the knee while driving, consult your surgeon immediately. It may be an indication that you havent healed well enough to drive yet.

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How Long Will It Be Before I Feel Normal

You should be able to stop using your crutches or walking frame and resume normal leisure activities 6 weeks after surgery. However, it may take up to 3 months for pain and swelling to settle down. It can take up to a year for any leg swelling to disappear.

Your new knee will continue to recover for up to 2 years after your operation. During this time, scar tissue will heal and muscles can be restored by exercise.

Even after you have recovered, it’s best to avoid extreme movements or sports where there’s a risk of falling, such as skiing or mountain biking. Your doctor or a physiotherapist can advise you.

Precautions After Knee Replacement Surgery

This article outlines the necessary precautions to take after total knee replacement surgery so you dont overdo it. The medical team at the hospital and my doctor gave me several suggestions on how to avoid setbacks and how to improve my recovery.

I also learned some dos and donts through trial and error. Well discuss the dangers of falling, infection, blood clots and several other things that might impede your TKR recovery.

Hopefully my experience will make your recovery from knee replacement less painful and free from setbacks. The more you know before surgery, the better your recovery will be.

Do as much reading and researching as much as you can and get information from friends and acquaintances that have had TKR. I asked a lot of questions whenever I met someone that had previously had TKR and Im glad I did.

Everyone has a different experience with total knee replacement and recovery but I was surprised how consistent the advice was.

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How Long Before You Can Drive After A Full Knee Replacement

When can I drive? If you had surgery on your right knee, you should not drive for at least 4 weeks. After 4 weeks you may return to driving as soon as you feel comfortable. If you had surgery on your left knee, you may return to driving as soon as you feel comfortable if you have an automatic transmission.

When Is It Safe To Start Drive After My Joint Replacement

Road to Recovery following Knee Replacement

Dr. Tiberi starts off by saying that I would encourage patients to discuss this question with their doctor. Every patient is different and there isnt one set, proven length of time before someone can drive after their replacement. Numerous factors go into determining when a patient can safely get behind the wheel again, so its not a one size fits all.

Dr. Tiberi illustrates, Somebody whos younger, in good physical shape, has their left hip done and drives a automatic car is very different from another patient who is unfit and is recovering from their right knee replacement. In saying this, there are certainly indicators of which joint replacement patients may drive earliest.

Note: Before driving, consult your orthopedic surgeon and care team. They should sign-off on you operating a car after surgery.

What helps to determine when youll drive after surgery:

  • Your overall physical fitness and health before surgery
  • If youve done physical therapy before and after surgery
  • Your vehicles transmission
  • Surgical side
  • Joint replacement type
  • Whether youve had a traditional or minimally invasive procedure
  • The type of pain medication/ dose you are taking
  • If youve suffered from any post-op complications
  • Your car insurance! A lot of insurance companies require your physician/ surgeon to sign-off after surgery before your insurance is valid again.

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Thoughts On Driving After A Total Knee Replacement

  • Froehner Ridgell

    Heya im for the first time here. I came across this board and am finding It really helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to present one thing back and help others like you helped me.

  • George Arends
  • Thank you for another fantastic article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such an ideally presented way? I have a presentation next week, and I have been searching for such info.

  • John Ducmanis
  • Well, this is downright ridiculous! Two weeks and a day after my surgery I am able to easily get into the drivers seat and effortlessly and swiftly move my foot from accelerator to brake. The pedals are so close and so short in travel that I never have to lift my heel. Dont think that I ever did, even prior to the surgery. Its all ankle action, and said ankle works fine. The car is a little Honda Fit.

    I cant think of any rational reason to adhere to an ironclad four-week rule. Considering my wifes busy schedule, it will sure simplify our life if I dont need chauffeuring. So here goes

  • booktoo1

    Glad youre doing so well, John! Thats great to hear. And..it gives us a better understanding about how everyone is different, yet the same.

  • Mandy

    Thank you! Im having left tkr, and theyre telling me 3 months no driving. As the only driver in our family, that was almost enough to make me call off surgery. If I have to go to pt, I need to drive. I hope 4 weeks works for me.

  • Paul
  • How To Shower After A Total Knee Replacement:

    Set the showering supplies within reach:

    • Set the Soap , shampoo, conditioner, long handled sponge to wash the back and lower extremities, and wash cloth within easy reach.
    • Set the shower hose in a location where you can reach it while sitting and standing in a shower. A shower hose mounted on a vertical slide bar is perfect.
    • Place towels to dry after showering within easy reach so that you can either dry off after getting out of the shower while standing or sitting.
    • Place and organize clothing you anticipate wearing after showering by the bed or chair within easy reach of where you will sit to dress.

    If the patient has a choice, always choose to shower in a shower stall rather than showering in a tub.

    A shower stall frequently has a non-skid tile floor and may not need a separate non-skid mat for the shower floor.All showers within a tub should use a non-skid mat. Not only are the tub floors slick, they also are not flat and level. A towel placed on the floor of the tub will reduce the slipperiness of the tub, but a non-skid mat would be much safer.

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    How Long Will I Be In Hospital After Knee Replacement

    The length of time recovering in hospital can vary from person to person. On average after a knee replacement you should be ready to transfer to rehab or go home after 4 to 5 days. At the Mater Hospital, the ward doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will take good care of you.

    They are briefed on the specific protocols to be followed for patients of Professor Walter. The hospital nurses and administrative staff will help you make arrangements for your discharge. Hospital staff will also talk to you about your rehabilitation options after your surgery, once they have assessed your progress. Arrangements for rehabilitation are made by the nursing staff.

    What Is A Total Knee Replacement

    Walking After Knee Replacement Surgery: Ask the Doctor with Orthopaedist Dr. Michael Putney

    A total knee replacement is a cartilage replacement with an artificial surface. The knee itself is not replaced. However, an artificial substitute for the cartilage is inserted on the end of the bones. This is done with a metal alloy on the femur and plastic spacer on the tibia and kneecap . This creates a new smooth cushion and a functioning joint that does not hurt.

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    What Is The Fastest Way To Recover From Knee Surgery

    4 Tips for Faster Recovery after Knee Surgery Keep the Knee Straight. While it may not be incredibly comfortable, its important that you keep your knee joint completely straight immediately after your surgery. Wear Your Knee Brace. After your surgery, your doctor may give you a knee brace. Appropriate Exercise. Physical Therapy.

    Avoid Long Periods Of Inactivity

    The first few days when you are at home its hard to get up and move about. You need to force yourself to get up often.

    Its very easy to lie in bed or sit in your recliner but making the effort to get up, move around and put some weight on your surgical knee helped speed up my recovery.

    Even while lying in bed or sitting in my recliner I was advised to do frequent ankle pumps and ankle circles to enhance my circulation.

    Once you are assigned exercises by your physical therapist its important to do them as often as the therapist suggests. I forced my self to get up and do the exercises 3 times a day.

    Many times I had to talk myself out of skipping workouts or taking shortcuts. It was hard, especially during the first two weeks but the results for me were worth the pain.

    Its easy to get depressed and lack the motivation to put in the recovery work. Thankfully my wife and son were around to encourage me and help get me through the early workouts.

    I knew someone that didnt work as hard the first two weeks and had to visit the doctor, be anesthetized and have the doctor manipulate and stretch the leg to increase range of motion in the knee.

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