Knee replacement recovery time will vary for each person.
It will partly depend on how well you prepared for surgery and what you are aiming to get back to, but here you will find a good guide as to what to expect.
Most people make an excellent knee replacement surgery recovery and are up and about very quickly. Gone are the days when people were in hospital for two weeks after their surgery. Now it's up and about straight away and home in just a few days.
Knee replacement recovery begins before your surgery. You will have a rehab program to work on which you can actually start before your operation to get your muscles in the best shape possible which will really help. The people who make the best total knee replacement recovery are the ones who start the rehab process before their operation.
Here we will look at total knee replacement recovery time, including what happens at what stage post-op and how long it typically takes to get back to your usual activity.
If are having or have had only one side of your knee replaced, visit the partial knee replacement recovery time section instead to found out how it will be for you.
Knee replacement recovery time will vary from person to person, and may be affected by:
Let's have a look at a typical knee replacement recovery time process.
After total knee replacement surgery you will be able to get out of bed and fully weight bear on your new knee within 24 hours. Don't worry, you won't be alone, the physiotherapists will help you.
You may feel slightly dizzy the first few times you get up after your knee replacement and may find it a bit awkward getting in and out of bed but this will quickly pass. Your physio will give you a frame, crutches or sticks to use for the first few
days, depending on what technique the surgeon used and how much pain you are in.
You will start your knee replacement exercises straight away, i.e. the same day as your operation, and will progress through the rehab program as instructed by a physiotherapist over the next few weeks.
Starting exercises as early as possible, and sticking to them religiously really helps speed up knee replacement recovery time. It might feel uncomfortable to start with, but it will make all the difference.
You may also use a CPM machine (continuous passive motion). This is a specially designed device that sits underneath your leg and bends the knee up and down for you. It can be set to bend a straighten through different ranges so as your knee movement improves, it can be adjusted to allow a great range of movement.
A CPM should be used alongside knee exercises, not as a substitute as it is really important that the muscles are doing some work too so you can make the best knee replacement recovery.
People are normally discharged from hospital after 2-5 days (sometimes longer) after a knee replacement depending on how they are doing. Some people even manage to get home the same day as their operation!
Before you can go home after a knee replacement, you will be able to:
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Once you are discharged from hospital, you will continue your knee replacement recovery at home. Your knee may well be sore and swollen after your knee replacement initially but the pain is often much less than before the surgery as you will no longer be getting any knee arthritis pain.
As the knee heals, your post-op knee replacement recovery pain will settle down, usually within a few weeks and you'll be advised on how to wean off your medication.
One of the best ways to reduce pain and improve range of motion after a knee replacement is to get any knee swelling down as quickly as possible using things like Ice and Tubigrip (a special compression bandage).
After about a month you should notice quite a dramatic improvement in your knee.
Knee replacement recovery time will be impacted by how well you comply with the recommended rehab programme. It is really important to be doing exercises to build up the strength and flexibility around your knee to gain the full benefit of the surgery (see the exercises for knee replacement section).
During this period of knee replacement recovery time be aware of:
The next phase of knee replacement recovery time focuses on regaining full functional ability at your knee. Whilst you can do most things at this stage on your new knee there are a few things you need to be careful of.
For 6-8 weeks after knee replacement surgery you should avoid:
Other than this, you you will need to continue with your knee replacement rehab program for at least 3 months after knee replacement surgery, probably six months to get the best result from your operation.
You will be able to progress your exercises as your knee gets stronger and more flexible - visit the rehab section to find out more. The more you stick to your exercise program, the shorter your knee replacement recovery time is likely be.
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:
Pain and swelling can take up to 3 months to settle and knee replacement recovery time continues up to 2 years after your operation.
Here's some top tips for four common questions about total knee replacement recovery time:
You can find the answers to loads more similar questions in the total knee replacement recovery questions section.
Knee replacement recovery time varies slightly from person to person but typically follows this pattern:
Hopefully this knee replacement recovery time line should give you a good idea what to expect from your surgery.
Knee replacement recovery time with vary person to person and may even go up and down. The better you understand what is going on in and around your knee, and the more information you have, the faster your knee replacement recovery time is likely to be.
Make sure you check out these articles to help you make the best possible recovery:
Page Last Updated: 12/01/23
Next Review Due: 12/01/25
1. Biomed Central Musculoskeletal Disorders: What is the evidence to support early supervised exercise therapy after primary total knee replacement? A systematic review and meta-analysis. January 2019
2. British Medical Journal Open: Cost-effectiveness of enhanced recovery in hip and knee replacement: a systematic review protocol. March 2018
3. Physiotherapy Journal: New approach for the rehabilitation of patients following total knee arthroplasty. May 2015