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When Can I Drive After Knee Replacement Surgery

Different Types Of Surgery

When Can I Drive After Total Hip Or Knee Replacement

There are 5 main types of knee replacement surgery:

  • Total knee replacement. This is the most common form. Your surgeon replaces the surfaces of the thigh bone and shin bone that connects to the knee.
  • Partial knee replacement. If arthritis affects only one side of your knee, this surgery may be a possibility. However, itâs only right for you if you have strong knee ligaments and the rest of the cartilage in the knee is normal. Partial knee replacement can be performed through a smaller cut than is needed for total knee replacement.
  • Patellofemoral replacement. This replaces only the under-surface of the kneecap and the groove the kneecap sits in. This can be very effective for people with chronic kneecap arthritis.
  • Complex knee replacement. This procedure may be needed if you have very severe arthritis or if youâve already had two or three knee replacement surgeries.
  • Cartilage restoration: Sometimes when the knee only has an isolated area of injury or wear this area can be replaced with a living cartilage graft or cells which grow into cartilage.

How To Know You Are Ready To Drive Again After A Knee Replacement

There are a few important milestones that you need to reach before you can begin driving after a knee replacement:

  • You can no longer be taking narcotic pain medication for pain relief
  • You have more than 80 degrees of knee flexion range of motion
  • You have enough quad control to lift your leg into bed without using your hands. This signals that you have enough strength to shift pedals
  • What Is Knee Replacement Surgery

    Knee replacement surgery is a surgical technique to repair the knee joint. Plastic and metal prosthetic parts are attached to the bones in the knee joint. During the procedure, damaged cartilage and bone are cut away. Then an artificial joint is put in place.

    This surgery might be required for someone with a severe knee injury or people who experience pain from chronic arthritis. A sports medicine doctor might recommend knee replacement surgery based on your knees strength, stability, and range of motion. A variety of surgical techniques and prostheses can be used, depending on your weight, age, knee size and shape, activity level, and overall health.

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    How Long Does A Partial Knee Replacement Last

    Just as a total knee replacement can wear out over time, partial knee replacements can also wear out. The longevity of a partial knee replacement has always been considered to be inferior to a full knee replacement. The reason for this is the result of multiple issues.

    First, people who have partial knee replacements often expect more of their knee, and place more stress on the knee joint through increased activity. Second, partial knee replacements do not allow for correction of alignment deformities of the knee, and may wear out as a result of misalignment. Lastly, the rest of the knee joint that was not replaced can wear out over time, and the partial knee replacement may eventually not control the arthritis symptoms.

    Partial knee replacements typically will last a decade or two. Some studies have shown good results with these implants lasting well into the second decade with the majority of implanted partial knee replacements still functioning well.

    Some people choose to have a partial knee replacement change to a full knee replacement. Recent studies have shown reasonably good results when people require a partial knee replacement converted to a full knee replacement.

    How Long Will I Be On A Blood Thinner

    Knee Replacement Surgery

    You will be placed on low-dose Aspirin twice a day during your recovery in the hospital. You will go home with a prescription for low-dose Aspirin that will be taken twice a day for 2 weeks.

    If you are on Coumadin or Xarelto prior to surgery, it is important to let your knee replacement doctor and the anesthesia staff know prior to surgery so the necessary adjustment can be made. Most patients will stop their Coumadin 7 days prior to surgery and switch to an injectable blood thinner up until the night before surgery. Once the surgery is over, you will continue the injectable and Coumadin until your Coumadin levels have returned to their pre-operative levels. If you have had a history of blood clots or pulmonary embolism, additional arrangements may also be made.

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    Driving After A Knee Replacement

    You should be able to start driving again after about 68 weeks, as long as you can operate the pedals and control your car in all situations. Any earlier than this and your reaction times may be too slow, particularly for emergency stops. Always check with your insurance company and your doctor first.

    Function Start Driving Once You Are Finished Using A Walker Or Cane

    Some surgeons will give patients a recommendation based on functional ability. For example, your surgeon may allow you to return to driving if you are no longer dependent on an assistive device for walking and you have discontinued the use of narcotic pain medication.

    Some surgeons will change that recommendation depending on where you live in the world and which knee was replaced. Here in the United States, many surgeons will allow patients to return to driving sooner after a left total knee replacement than a right simply because the right leg is responsible for controlling the acceleration and braking systems.


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    How Soon Can You Drive After Knee Replacement Surgery

    Posted on:

    A very common question individuals who undergo knee replacement surgery have is How soon can you drive after knee replacement surgery?

    Most patients experience better mobility and function in the knee as well as less pain with routine activities of daily living such as getting in and out of a car or driving after the procedure. However, certain temporary restrictions are necessary for the patients safety and that of their loved ones.

    Here are a few guidelines as to how soon after knee replacement surgery you can expect to get behind the wheel and ride yourself to work or activities you enjoy:

    Narcotic medication: You should not consider driving as long as you are on narcotic pain medication as they negatively affect your mental alertness and reaction time.

    Left total knee replacement: If you are not on narcotic medication, you may be able to drive an automatic transmission vehicle in as little as 2 weeks. With a manual transmission vehicle, it will take you at least a few weeks longer before your left leg is strong enough to operate the clutch.

    Right total knee replacement: Driving isnt recommended for at least 4 weeks after a right total knee replacement or even a bit longer depending on how soon you regain your pre-surgical reflexes and muscle strength.

    Getting Into A Car After A Knee Replacement

    Driving after a knee injury or surgery

    Before you try and get into the car after a knee replacement its best to prepare.

    • Park the car in an open space or next to the curb to have plenty of room to maneuver.
    • Scoot the front seat as far back as it can go.
    • It can even be beneficial to recline the seat during the first week after surgery to help give a little more room.
    • Get as close as you can to the car using your walker or the crutches
    • Turn around so that your back is facing the front seat and back up until you feel the seat touching the backside of the legs
    • Be sure to use the seat and handle overhead DONT use the car door for support as it is unstable and will move

    Slide back until your thighs are fully supported on the seat.

    Once you are seated on the seat.

    • Assist your legs into the car one at a time
    • Use your hands to assist your legs as needed to get in and out comfortably

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    How Long Will I Be On Pain Medication

    Total joint replacement is a big surgery. It is not unusual to require some form of pain medication for approximately 6-8 weeks. Initially, the medication will be a strong oral narcotic such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. Most people begin to wean off their strong pain medication 3-4 weeks after surgery, requiring it mostly around times of therapy. Moderate strength medication, like Celebrex, Meloxicam or Ibuprofen and/or Tylenol may be needed for an additional 3-4 weeks.

    How Soon Can You Drive After Total Knee Replacement

    In the weeks after total knee replacement surgery also known as total knee arthroplasty you will likely be eager to get back behind the wheel. After all, no one really likes relying on friends, family members or public transportation. Driving will make it easier to get back to your regular work, social and recreational activities.

    So when can you drive after total knee replacement?

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    How Long Will I Be In The Hospital

    Most people are in the hospital from 1-2 days. Most patients return directly home after discharge from the hospital. However, there are some patients who live alone, have no available caregivers or who require some additional recovery. These patients may qualify for a short-term rehab stay at an outside facility for further physical therapy.

    What Does Knee Replacement Surgery Involve

    Arthroscopic knee surgery

    The team at Tri-State Orthopaedics provide the latest advancements in treating chronic knee problems. When conservative options arent enough, your provider may recommend knee replacement surgery. Also called arthroplasty, this procedure involves replacing the structure of the damaged knee joint with metal and plastic parts to restore the normal function of the knee and relieve chronic pain.

    Knee replacement is an incredibly common and successful procedure. Over 90% of people who have knee replacement experience significant improvement in pain and their ability to get around. For most people, knee replacement restores a good quality of life, giving back independence and allowing you to engage in activities you used to enjoy. However, recovery is often a long road. If youre scheduled for or considering knee surgery, here are some helpful dos and donts in your path to recovery.

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    Should I Apply Heat Or Ice

    While in the hospital and for several weeks after surgery, ice is most helpful to keep down swelling. In the hospital you should have ice applied to your knee at least 2-3 times daily. At home the most convenient ice bag is a bag of frozen peas that will conform easily to your knee and can be frozen. A warm towel placed around your knee prior to therapy sessions may help loosen up your knee, and ice may be used after therapy to cool the joint down.

    Tips For Traveling After Knee Replacement Surgery

    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.

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    How Soon Can I Drive After Knee Replacement

    The Roads & Traffic Authority recommends you should generally not drive for six weeks following a knee replacement. In order to be safe driving a car after a knee replacement, you must be able to control the pedals properly and you must not be taking strong pain medications that could impair your judgement or reaction time.

    As you get to the six-week mark, ask yourself if you would be able to stop quickly if a pedestrian ran in front of your vehicle. If you feel you could not react quickly enough, wait a little longer.

    Safe To Drive After Knee Surgery

    Driving After a Knee Replacement: When is it Safe?

    To get a better understanding of how knee surgery impacts your ability to stop a moving vehicle, researchers in Germany recruited 40 individuals between the age of 36 and 86 who had recently undergone a total knee arthroplasty. Half of the patients underwent the operation on their right knee, while the other half had the replacement operation on their left knee. Researchers recorded a patients reaction time and braking ability in an automatic transmission driving simulator before the operation, and four times after the surgery. The driving test involved hitting the gas until they saw a red light, which meant they needed to come to a quick stop.

    After examining the test results, researchers discovered:

    • Eight days after surgery, patients with right-knee replacement had a 30 percent slower braking time than their pre-surgery braking time. At eight days, braking time was only reduced by 2 percent in patients with left-knee replacements.
    • Braking force decreased 25-35 percent in both groups a week after surgery, and gradually increase over a year.
    • Braking force reached preoperative levels in the left-knee group after 12 weeks.

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    Effect Of Casts Braces Or Boots On Driving After Surgery

    Despite many patients telling me that they can drive with the right foot on the gas pedal and the left foot on the brake, I think it is a terrible idea. The authors of the driving study found that braking reaction time was slower for this two-footed technique than any other method of applying the brakes. Patients should avoid this method of braking after any lower extremity injury or surgery.

    Wearing any kind of immobilization on the right ankle cast or boot causes a much slower braking time. A patient should avoid driving with any right ankle immobilization. Potentially, though, he can drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission if the left lower extremity is immobilized.

    Any kind of right knee immobilization cast or hinged-knee brace greatly slows braking time. A patient should avoid driving with any such device on his right knee.

    The authors do offer guidelines regarding braking function and driving for specific lower extremity injuries and surgeries:

    When Do I See A/prof Walter For Follow Up Appointments

    Your first post-op appointment will be at 6 weeks after your knee replacement. Please bring ALL your x-rays, including a fresh X-Ray taken as close to that appointment as possible. You do not need a new referral if you are coming for your six-week post-operative check up. This appointment does not incur a fee.

    After a knee replacement surgery A/Professor Walter will ask you to come back for a follow up appointment at 6 months, 2 years, 5 years and every five years after that. It is important that you come back for these check-up appointments, even if you are perfectly happy with your implant.

    After a knee arthroscopy surgery A/Professor Walter will usually ask you to come back 10 14 days after surgery so that sutures can be removed and the wound can be checked. You will need to come back 3 months after your surgery. Further follow up appointments may be advised after that.

    Please check to see if any Xray is required for this appointment.

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    Should I Tell My Dentist That Ive Had A Knee Replacement

    After a knee replacement, pay particular attention to infections anywhere on the body, and deal with them immediately. Pay special attention to tooth decay and mouth infections, as these may be a cause of infection in joint replacement.

    If you need to visit your dentist, tell them you have had a joint replacement and give them a copy of the current advice from the Arthroplasty Society of Australia, which outlines recommendations for mouth care after joint replacement surgery.

    How Long Will It Be Before I Feel Normal

    Knee Replacement (KR)

    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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    Managing Your Recovery At Home

    To begin with, its normal to experience:

    • tiredness get plenty of rest, but then its important to slowly increase your activity
    • swelling to ease this, keep your leg raised when sitting and use the cryocuff cold compress we gave you, or apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel
    • pain take any painkillers weve prescribed until youre pain free

    Here are a few things you can do to strengthen your knee, avoid damaging it and help your wound heal:

    • Keep your wound dry for 45 days afterwards, and use a waterproof dressing when you have a bath or shower
    • Continue the exercises the physiotherapist showed you
    • Try low-impact activities like walking and gradually increase how far you walk
    • Keep using your crutches or walking stick for as long as you feel you need to
    • Dont lift anything heavy or do any strenuous exercise
    • Youll be able to bend your knee 90-120 degrees, but you should avoid kneeling down
    • Dont sit with your legs crossed for the first 6 weeks
    • Avoid twisting at your knee


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