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How Long Does It Take To Heal From Knee Surgery

Learn What To Expect And How To Prepare From The Doctors Who Perform This Operation Every Day And The Patients Who Have Been Through Knee Surgery Successfully

Why Does It Take so Long to Recover from a Knee Replacement?

If your knee arthritis has gotten so bad that your medication and physical therapy are no longer enough to keep the pain at bay or prevent mobility issues, it is a good time to consider knee replacement surgery. The procedure has come a long way from the extended hospital stays, bed rest, and narcotics-based pain relief of the past.

Fifteen to 20 years ago we told patients to wait until they could no longer take the pain of osteoarthritis to consider surgery, but thats not the case anymore, says P. Maxwell Courtney, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. With todays advances, minimally invasive techniques, and accelerated rehab and recovery protocols, we now tell patients if the pain is limiting your daily activities and youve exhausted conservative options like injections and physical therapy its time to consider surgery.

That was certainly the case for Sharon Barnes, a teacher from Maine whose pain got so bad she couldnt sleep. My doctor said I had osteoarthritis in both knees it was literally bone on bone, she remembers. We did hyaluronic acid injections, and that got me about a year then didnt work as well. Thats when we started discussing surgery.

Learn More About Knee Replacement Recovery

If you are planning to undergo knee replacement surgery or need more information about the recovery process, give us a call at OrthoBethesda today. Our physicians are specially trained, highly skilled and have a friendly bedside manner.

At OrthoBethesda, we treat joints, bones, hands, feet and the spine while offering the best treatment for arthritis, fractures, tendon, ligament and sports injuries. We treat you just like youre a family member, ensuring that you get the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery

About 750,000 knee replacement operations are performed annually in the United Statesa number projected to hit 3.5 million by 2030, due to the aging population. Orthopedic surgeons often perform these surgeries due to osteoarthritis, which worsens with age and can cause , stiffness and disability.

Several types of knee replacement surgeries can be performed, with differing recovery times. These include:

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What The Alternatives To Knee Replacement

A healthcare provider may recommend knee replacement surgery after other treatments for knee pain dont help anymore. These earlier options may include:

  • Exercise or physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint which will provide stability.
  • Medications such as NSAIDs and cortisone shots.
  • Walking aids or supports and bracing.

How Long Will It Take To Recover From My Knee Operation

How Long Does It Take For Knee Replacement To Heal

A comparative guide to recovery times for some of the most popular knee operations and treatments:

Knee pain is a common complaint that can affect people of all ages and differing lifestyles. There are several reasons that someone may look to have treatment for a knee ailment injury such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage, tendonitis or a dislocated kneecap, or medical conditions including arthritis, gout or severe infections.

Many types of minor knee pain can respond to self-care methods such as physical therapy or bracing, whereas others may need further medical intervention or even surgery.

A knee injury can affect any of the ligaments, tendons or fluid filled sacs that surround the knee joint as well as the bones, cartilage, and ligaments that form the joint itself.

Weve rounded up some of the most common injuries and ailments and compared average recovery times for those procedures. There are so many factors, including age, height, weight, lifestyle, severity of injury, and each person is different so everyone will take time to heal in a different way.

Treatment and Surgery

The decision to have knee surgery will depend on the exact damage to the ACL and whether it is affecting your quality of life. Delaying treatment can cause further damage to the knee.


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Total Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery

Patients are encouraged to begin ambulation the same day as their knee replacement surgery, with the aid of a walker or other orthopedic device. A patient typically stays in the hospital for 1 to 2 days, and longer if needed. Some may be able to go home the same day of their surgery if their medical team feels it is safe to do so. Patients who require extra attention or do not have home support may be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center, but every effort is made to help the patient return to their home environment with additional support.

Anterior view of a knee that has undergone a total knee replacement.

Exercise And Physical Activity

The final phase of recovery, as Dr. Parks considers it, is returning to exercises and extra activities, including hiking and biking. It typically takes eight to 12 weeks to get to this phase, he says.

In terms of full knee replacement recovery, patients generally need a year to completely heal and regain total function.

After a couple of years, you forget that youve even had knee surgery, says Barnes, who would go on to have her left knee replaced a year after the surgery on her right. Before surgery I couldnt garden. Now I walk, snow shoe, and climb ladders. I do what I want and dont have pain.

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Improve Your Range Of Motion With Exercise

Your therapist will prescribe exercises to help you move your knee freely. Youll need to get involved in exercises such as:

  • Step-ups on stairs
  • Leg balances using one foot to stand at a time
  • Partial bending of the knee
  • Raising your toe and heel while standing

Your goal should be to increase the range of motion to over 110 degrees at 11 weeks. You should be able to increase mobility with little or no pain.

Returning To Activities / Sports

How long does it take to recover from knee replacement surgery?

With knee replacement recovery time is one of the biggest healers. Over time the swelling will reduce, your muscles will get stronger and your knee should free up becoming more flexible than beforehand.

It is important to take things easy for the first few weeks but after that, you can start thinking about returning to your favorite activities. Here are some helpful tips on knee replacement recovery time:

  • You can resume most activities after 6-12 weeks, for example swimming
  • Some activities should be carried out with care e.g. golf dont wear shoes with spikes
  • Some activities are not advised following a total knee replacement as they put too much stress on the new knee joint. These include: jogging, contact sports e.g. basketball and football, squash, badminton, jumping activities and skiing. If you are unsure, discuss things with your doctor.

Pain and swelling can take up to 3 months to settle and knee replacement recovery time continues up to 2 years after your operation.

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How Long Does It Take To Recover After Double Knee Replacement Surgery

A double knee replacement is a surgical procedure designed to eliminate arthritis from the knee. The knee occurs when there is a loss of the cartilage in the knee. When the cartilage has worn away in both knees, an artificial knee can take its place. The knee replacement recreates to the normal function of the knee and its main reason is to relieve pain. It may also help to restore motion of both knees.

The knee will also be checked to make sure that all of the ligaments are stable around the knee. The knee is then brought through a full range of motion to make sure that the knee will come to full extension and able to fully flex.

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You Dislocatedyour Knee What Now

Not often does this injury happen, but knee jointdislocation can occur from high-impact and forceful injuries.

Most people recover from a dislocated knee joint in 6weeks. Unfortunately, even after 6 weeks of healing is over, you may still belimited. Playing sports competitively might have to be put on hold for sometime after you begin recovering to prevent further injury.

It is recommended to use crutches and to stay off ofyour feet after the injury occurs. After 4 weeks of resting your knee, youshould begin walking on it and gain back strength.

If your knee is swelling from the dislocation andcausing discomfort, you can apply ice and take a pain killer to ease symptoms.The best way to tell if you have dislocated your knee is by straightening outyour leg.

Your knee may be dislocated if you cant fullyextend your leg, your knee looks misshapen, or there is swelling.

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Maintain Comfort With Your Prosthesis

Maintaining comfort is one of the most important parts of wearing a below knee prosthesis. At a basic level, comfort is achieved by good pressure distribution and managing friction that occurs between the prosthesis and your limb. There are also accessories that will help:

Suspension Products Sleeves are used to hold the prosthesis firmly to your limb and keep it from slipping or turning during all phases of the walking motion. They are generally made from neoprene or silicone gel and come in a variety of sizes.

Prosthetic Socks and Sheaths Prosthetic sheaths, liners and socks are the materials in contact with your residual limb. A prosthetic sheath helps ease friction between the skin and sock. The prosthetic sock is used to help maintain a comfortable and even fit in the event that the volume of the residual limb changes. This is accomplished either by changing to a thicker sock or wearing more than one at a time.

Caring for your Residual Limb Wash your limb with soap and water each day and allow it to dry completely. Check your limb for any redness that doesnt dissipate within a few minutes after removing the prosthesis. Also check for skin breakdown. You may need to use a mirror if you cant see the end of your limb. If you have skin breakdown, stop using your prosthesis immediately, and contact your prosthetist in order to arrange for an adjustment.

How Long Will It Be Before I Feel Normal

How long does it take an MCL injury of the knee to heal?

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.

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Tips To Speed Up Recovery Post Knee Replacement

  • Follow physician recommendations: Your surgeon understands what is needed for speedy recovery. If they prescribe medication, recommend rest, or give other instructions, make sure to follow them exactly. Not listening to your doctor can lead to delays in recovery as well as dangerous side effects.
  • Pain management: Although some discomfort is to be expected after knee replacement surgery, an excellent pain management regimen can dramatically reduce pain and accelerate recovery. Because pain is subjective, accurately describing and pinpointing the location and degree of the pain are critical, which will help the care team know whether pain is consistent or sporadic, as well as whether it is intense, tingling, or burning.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet following surgery helps with speeding up recovery. As your body tries to repair itself, it requires essential vitamins, minerals, and protein, and the best way to obtain them organically is through healthy foods. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods.
  • Exercise:Exercise is not the same as movements taught in physical therapy. Engaging in regular physical activity strengthens the muscles and allows you to recover faster. It is, however, critical to avoid pushing yourself too hard so as to avoid injury to the knee and cause setbacks. Be careful to avoid exercises that are too intense. Ask a trainer for help finding activities that are safe to perform.
  • How To Encourage Healing

    For anyone who has had knee surgery, it is essential to keep the wound as dry as possible until it has thoroughly healed. Covering the wound with a bandage will also help prevent irritation from support stockings and other clothing.

    Having a healthful, balanced diet helps encourage healing, though a person may have a poor appetite for the first few days after their surgery.

    The AAOS recommends exercising in the first few weeks after the operation. A physical therapist may recommend specific exercises that help restore movement and build strength in the knee, and a person may need to do these several times a day.

    Otherwise, the best approach to aftercare largely depends on the type of surgery that a person has had.

    Anyone who has undergone arthroscopy should exercise regularly. A doctor or physical therapist usually recommends 2030 minutes of exercise two or three times a day and walking for 30 minutes two or three times a day during early recovery.

    A physical therapist may design a personalized activity program. This may involve gradually increasing the amount of walking and a timetable for resuming everyday activities, such as climbing stairs. They will also recommend rehabilitation exercises.

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    How Long Will My Knee Replacement Last

    This varies depending on the patient, but knee replacement implants are very strong and durable. With todays advancements in technology, especially when it comes to polyethylene, knee implants are lasting more than 15-20 years for most patients.

    If you and your orthopedic surgeon have decided that you are a good candidate for total knee replacement, start planning ahead so you can focus on your recovery for the best possible outcome. Remember that youre likely to come out of surgery as active as you go into surgery, so aim for regular low impact exercise and joint movement that you can complete without pain. Carefully following your surgeons instructions after a total knee replacement will ensure you protect your implant and prolong the success of your joint replacement.

    Who Can Benefit From Partial Knee Replacement

    How long does it take to recover from knee replacement surgery?

    Partial knee replacement is appropriate for patients with arthritis that is confined to a single compartment of the knee and is generally restricted to patients who are not morbidly obese. The surgery is not appropriate for patients with marked stiffness in the knee or those with a significant angular deformity. Intact ligaments are generally a requirement for a partial knee replacement. Patients with are not candidates for partial knee solutions since inflammatory-type arthritis typically involves the entire joint.

    Additional considerations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis with the surgeon and patient determining together whether partial knee replacement is the best treatment option. Selecting the right patient is considered one of the most important steps to ensuring a good functional outcome and longevity for a partial knee replacement. “” rel=”nofollow”> View HSS surgeons at HSS who perform partial knee replacement.)

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    Tips For A Smoother Recovery

    Physicians and patients share their insights for safely and efficiently getting back on your feet:

    If you have concerns or if youre experiencing something you dont understand, speak up. Your doctor and physical therapist will know if its normal or not. In my case I mentioned a muscle spasm issue to my physical therapist, and she got on the phone with my doctor and I ended up needing a medication change to address it. Patient Sharon Barnes

    Walking is the best therapy you can do. Walking in the park or around your neighborhood is really how youll be able to get back to normal life quicker. Dr. Courtney

    Ive had both done, 14 and 15 years ago. Best advice: Do your before exercises and build up your strength, then after surgery, do your exercise as soon as youre able and keep doing them to get your best range of movement. Its going to hurt, but its so worth it. Healing pain is different, its pain with an end in sight. My father-in-law told me before I had my first one done, to remember, short-term pain for the long-term gain, and that was my mantra. Patient Kathy M., via Facebook

    I had bilateral knee replacements done two years ago. My advice? Build up your leg muscles before surgery. I started three months before so the muscles were in tip-top shape. It made a huge difference in making therapy so much easier. Cheryl W., via Facebook

    Good Data On Joint Replacement Are Hard To Find

    Its difficult to predict how long a joint replacement will last for several reasons. One is that it can take a decade or more to collect data on past operations to predict the success of future operations. Another challenge is that in recent years, theres been a tendency to operate on younger people, including baby boomers who are more active in their 50s and 60s and may expect more of their new joints than prior generations. Age is of particular importance, because a person with a life expectancy of 15 years has a much better chance of avoiding a future operation than a person with a life expectancy of 30 years. In addition, younger patients tend to be more active and put more stress on their new joint. For these reasons, some surgeons advise younger patients to put off surgery as long as possible, even if that means suffering with pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

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