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How Long Does Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery Take

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Partial Knee Replacement

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

Published on: 6th April 2021

If youre considering knee replacement for a painful, arthritic knee, you probably know the operation comes in two forms. One is to replace the whole of your knee joint a Total Knee Replacement . The other focuses on replacing one of the three compartments in your knee with a single, smaller implant this is known as Partial Knee Replacement .

For patients who are suitable for a partial replacement , PKR can be an attractive option because the surgery is less invasive, which means a shorter stay in hospital. In fact were now starting to see a trend towards day case surgery for PKR, meaning its sometimes possible to have the procedure in the morning and be home by the afternoon.

If that makes a partial replacement sound easy, thats not quite correct. PKR is still major surgery, and it will take time and patience to get back to full strength afterwards. But it certainly has the potential to provide a quicker recovery than total replacement.

What does that look like in reality? Heres a rough outline. Remember that recovery times can vary quite substantially from patient to patient, but the following timeline should give you a sense of what to expect.

Factors That Can Slow Down Knee Replacement Recovery

Patients are advised to make their recovery a priority. Recovery may take longer if patients:

  • Do not participate in physical therapy. Physical therapy is essential for establishing the new knees range of motion and strengthening muscles to support the new joint.
  • Smoke or use other nicotine products. Nicotine use causes the blood vessels to narrow, limiting the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can travel in the bloodstream. If the bloodstream cannot deliver adequate oxygen and nutrients to the wound, healing slows down.
  • Do not manage their diabetes. Uncontrolled type 1 or type 2 diabetes can negatively affect blood flow and the immune system, slowing down healing and increasing the risk for infection.
  • Participate in risky behaviors. Not using an assistive device, such as a walker, can increase the risk of falling, which will slow down recovery or even necessitate another surgery. Drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs can also increase the risk of falling, and can even be life-threatening if mixed with prescribed painkillers.

A surgeon, recovery nurse, or other medical staff can further advise patients regarding behaviors that may slow down recovery.

These Boots Were Made For Walking

Osteoarthritis causes severe pain as well as problems with daily activities. When other interventions have failed to provide relief, a physician may recommend a total knee replacement. Surgery can significantly reduce pain and restore function to the knee joint. Daily physical therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process.

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How Soon Does Rehabilitation Therapy Start After The Hip Surgery

Patients will have physical therapy before the hip replacement surgery, and then work with a physical therapist right after the surgery to reinforce exercises before they go home, says Thakkar. Rehabilitation will continue a few days after the surgery, with visits with physical and occupational therapists two to three times per week, as well as home exercises.

Rehabilitation begins with getting used to regular movements and practicing daily activities, like getting out of bed or a chair, and progresses to practicing more difficult tasks, such as climbing stairs and getting in or out of the car.

Muscle strength plays a big role in being able to perform these and other tasks. This is why resistance training of hip muscles and knee muscles in the legs is a major component of rehabilitation.

Hip and Knee Replacement at Johns Hopkins

The Johns Hopkins Hip and Knee Replacement program features a team of orthopaedic specialists highly skilled in joint replacement procedures. Our team will guide you through every step, from presurgical education to postsurgical care and physical therapy. Our goal is to return you to your desired level of activity as soon as possible.

Tips For A Smoother Recovery

Road to Recovery following Knee Replacement

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

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Dont Forget The Scar Cream

Use scar cream and an aloe based lotion often. I always applied it first thing in the morning as well as before and after my 3 exercise sessions.

It is inexpensive and ensures the scar is hydrated, making it more comfortable to bend especially during my range of motion exercises. At my age, I wasnt as worried about the cosmetic appearance of the scar, but if you are concerned, apply the scar cream often.

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Try To Recover Using The Least Possible Pain Medicine

The first 7-10 days after surgery, you will be struggling with chemical pain induced by the trauma that your knee has undergone. Marines, and other really tough guys get humbled by this pain and you do yourself a grave disservice to try to muscle through this period. You will waste valuable time feeling poorly and will have limited success advancing your range of motion, the most improtant goal. This tactic will also ensure that you are taking narcotic pain medication for a longer period.

However if you take your pain meds as prescribed, and work hard, you can be off narcotic pain medicine in two weeks or at least by the time you finish gaining back your range of motion. Gotta get the range then you can back off pain medicine.

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Recovery & Rehabilitation From Total Knee Replacement Surgery

If you or someone close to you is considering a total knee replacement surgery , youve probably wondered how long exactly it will take to get back to 100% after surgery. As you probably already guessed the answer is It depends. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 98% of patients who undergo surgery are able to successfully return to activities of daily living and occupational duties. The complication rate is quite low at 2%, making it one of the most common and successful surgeries1. Generally, recovery from the surgery will take approximately 12 weeks2-4. However, depending on the demands of your lifestyle it could take up to 6-12 months to feel the full benefits of surgery.

Should I Have Pain After Knee Replacements

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

After surgery, some pain is normal. About 30 percent of patients experience moderate pain after a total knee replacement. However, if the pain lasts for several weeks following surgery, it may be a cause for concern. A provider will give you anesthesia during a total knee replacement to put you to sleep.

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Here Are A Few Things You Can Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery:

  • Rest and Ice: The knee will be swollen and tender, which is why you need to follow doctor suggestions for keeping the leg elevated and icing the joint.
  • Medications: Not only does medication help with pain management, but it is also vital to reduce inflammation. Sometimes antibiotics are needed for preventing infection.
  • Follow Up: You will have follow-up appointments to talk to your sports medicine doctor about recovery. Surgical staples or stitches will be removed during the office visit. Reach out to your doctor if you notice unusual symptoms, such as redness, fever, incision drainage, or increased pain.
  • Home Modifications: You might need certain modifications to help you navigate your home. Since the knee needs to heal, you must use crutches. Some patients transition to a cane or walker as the recovery progresses. Consider using other modifications, such as handrails, a shower bench, a reaching stick, and removing loose cords and rugs that could cause a fall.

What Does Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery Look Like

During knee replacement surgery, your doctor will make an incision before moving your knee cap and cutting away any damaged bone, cartilage, and joint surfaces. Artificial joints will then be attached and tested by bending and rotating your knee before your doctor closes your incision with stitches.

Whether youre having a total or partial knee replacement will have an effect on your pain level and recovery.

A traditional total knee replacement will typically require one to three months of recovery with the use of a walker or a cane. On the other hand, a partial knee replacement is much less invasive. Patients usually walk without assistance within two weeks. This is because the incision is much smaller and there is significantly less blood loss. While this may sound more appealing than a total knee replacement, only about 10% of patients are good candidates for a partial knee replacement procedure.

After your surgery, youll follow weight-bearing guidelines. How much pressure your new knee can initially support will depend on the condition of your natural bone, as well as the type of prosthesis you have.

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How Long Does A Knee Replacement Last

About 90% of first-time knee replacements last at least 15 years,4 and many last at least 20 years.5

Patients can extend the life of their knee replacements by complying with their physical therapy routines and avoiding high-impact activities, such as jumping or jogging. High impact activities cause friction between the man-made components of the replacement knee, causing wear and tear.

Revision Knee Replacement SurgeryIf the initial knee replacement components need to be replaced for any reason, a second surgery called a revision total knee replacement may be needed. Wear-and-tear on components, component loosening, infection, and knee joint instability are the most common possible causes for needing revision surgery. Other reasons include knee stiffness and bone fractures.

Patients should talk to their doctors about when is the best time to schedule knee replacement surgery.

Healing From Knee Replacement Surgery

How long does it take to recover from knee replacement ...

An orthopedic surgeon must cut through skin and deeper soft tissue, typically including parts of the quadriceps tendon, to perform knee replacement surgery. Bone and cartilage tissue from the ends of the femur and top of the tibia are cut and removed to make room for the artificial joint. These tissues need time to heal. A combination of rest and physical therapy can help keep healing and recovery on track.

See Total Knee Replacement Surgical Procedure

Recovery times vary from person to person. Most people are able to return to their everyday activities in a matter of weeks. It may take 6 months to a year before a person can return to certain sports .

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How Much Should I Be Walking After A Knee Replacement

Strictly speaking, there is no limit to the amount of walking that you can do following a knee replacement. Your surgeon will not place a distance or time limit on your walking activities, as most patients find that their knee that is still recovering from surgery, and this will limit them instead. Walking is an excellent exercise to help promote recovery and healing in the knee and many patients find that the more walking that they can do, the quicker they recover from the surgery and the more functional they are in the long term. However, walking should also be supplemented with other exercises that demand a greater range of motion out of the knee such as a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer.

How To Look After Your New Knees

The new normal might be difficult for you to adapt. Heres what to do to properly adjust to your new knees

Regularly take your prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to reduce any pain or swelling felt in the body.

Use your walking aids but try to rely less on them with time and walk on your own for improving the condition.

Continue to keep up with your health exercise to get rid of stiffness and other problems, but dont put great force on the knees.

Do not sit while your leg crossed for the first six weeks after your surgery. It can cause dislocation. Limit your sitting position.

Avoid using a pillow underneath the knee while sleeping. It can result in permanent knee bend.

Lift your leg while sitting or applying an ice pack covered in a tea towel for 20 minutes after every 3 to 4 hours to decrease any swelling.

  • Try to avoid twisting at your knee.
  • Always wear supportive footwear outdoors.
  • Avoid kneeling on your operated knee in the first 6 months after the surgery.

In the period of initial healing, the patient may constantly require assistance for their movement and the need for a caretaker becomes essential.

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The Oxford Partial Knee Replacement Recovery Time Even Shorter

In many cases today, a TKR is not required. If only one part of the knee is worn out, the patient may be a candidate for a partial replacement, which requires a much smaller incision than a TKR and shorter recovery time.

An Oxford partial knee replacement is a minimally-invasive procedure with excellent results. In fact, the results proved so positive that the Oxford is the first partial knee implant with a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.

Patients say there is no comparison in the partial knee replacement recovery time, post-surgery pain, and natural motion of the new knee. Read patient testimonials here.

What To Expect In The First Week After Knee Replacement Surgery

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

In the first week after a knee replacement, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to have your stitches or staples removed. This appointment should happen between 10 and 21 days after your knee replacement surgery.

Within a week, your knee will technically be able to bend 90 degrees, though it may be difficult due to pain and swelling. After 710 days, you should be able to fully extend your knee out straight. – healthline

You’ll still be walking with a walker for the first 1 to 3 weeks before switching to crutches and you won’t be able to drive. You’ll likely still be in a bit of pain and requiring assistance. However, within the first week, you’ll start to notice some improvements.

Straight away, you’ll need to work with a physiotherapist to keep your knee strong and mobile. Depending on your previous fitness levels and overall health, your physio schedule and the exercises you’ll do in therapy will vary.

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What To Expect From Knee Replacement Surgery

To see if knee replacement surgery might be right for you, your doctor will want to confirm that you have arthritis. You have to see that somethings wrong on the x-ray, Dr. Claudette M. Lajam, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health in New York City and a spokesperson for the AAOS, told TODAY. You can be fooled by other disease processes. For example, a damaged disc in your back could cause pain in your knee.

If you have arthritis, you wont go straight to surgery. Your doctor will want you to try other, less-invasive strategies to reduce your pain.

Those might include:

  • Wearing a knee brace
  • Using shoe inserts

These options can be good alternatives to knee replacement surgery for elderly patients or others who cant undergo surgery.

If these strategies arent controlling your pain, it might be time to consider knee replacement surgery. If the pain is interfering with your life and you cant make it better with other means, you have to consider other ways to fix it, Lajam said.

While its important to exhaust your other options for alleviating your pain, you shouldnt wait too long. There are some dangers of delaying knee replacement surgery.

Avoid Mistakes To Recover Faster

How long does it take to recover from total knee replacement? Will it be relatively easy or frustratingly hard, speedy or last over a year? This is the million dollar question. You can make a big difference in your recovery speed by avoiding the 5 biggest mistakes that most people make. Not doing any of your exercises would be the stupidest mistake but I am going to assume you are MUCH smarter than that after all you are here searching out and seeking the best answers to all your questions.

Here it is for all the wise ones. Listen up and take notes so that you too can avoid the 5 biggest mistakes that will shipwreck your recovery from a total knee replacement.

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