Chronic knee conditions such as osteoarthritis can often be effectively managed with nonsurgical methods. If first-line treatments fail to offer sufficient relief from symptoms, however, a patient may consider knee replacement surgery. Following the surgeon-recommended guidelines for rehab after knee replacement is essential to speed recovery and maximize the chances of getting excellent long-term results from surgery.
What Is Involved in Rehab After Knee Replacement?
Before committing to partial or total knee replacement surgery, patients should understand what the rehabilitation process will entail. Here is the standard post-operative timeline:
- The First 24 Hours After Surgery: Rehab after knee replacement should start shortly after surgery, while you are still in the hospital. It is crucial to begin strengthening your operated knee as soon as possible. Within 24 hours, you will be instructed to stand and walk using an assistive device.
- Discharge from the Hospital: Within 1-2 days, you should begin to gain some strength and range of motion in your knee. As this occurs, you should aim to gradually increase your activity level and reduce reliance on your assistive device. Before being discharged to your home or a rehab facility, you should ideally be able to perform simple daily tasks on your own, walk with minimal assistance and bend your knee well.
- Weeks 3-6: Once discharged, you will be instructed to perform physical therapy exercises which are specifically designed to further improve your knee strength and flexibility. During this period, you should be able to start walking longer distances and performing more activities without an assistive device. Assuming you’ve stuck to the suggested plan for rehab after knee replacement, you can expect to be experiencing far less swelling and inflammation by this point.
- Weeks 7-11: As your knee strength continues to improve, you will likely be able to resume low-impact activities such as biking and swimming. Your physical therapist will assess your progress and adjust your exercise plan as needed.
- Week 12 & Beyond: At the 12-week mark, you may very well feel fully or almost fully recovered, with little to no knee pain remaining. However, it is still important to keep in touch with your surgeon and physical therapist, at this point and moving forward. Be sure to get clearance before resuming more demanding activities, and don’t hesitate to let your doctor know if you begin to experience significant knee discomfort.
While no two patients will have the exact same recovery timeline, hopefully this gives you a general idea of what you can expect during rehab after knee replacement.
Discuss the Right Knee Treatment for You with Dr. Soffer
If you are suffering from persistent knee pain that is interfering with your life, Dr. Stephen Soffer can help you get relief. He excels in all of the latest knee treatments, including nonsurgical options as well as arthroscopic and open knee surgery.
When you visit him, Dr. Soffer will carefully consider your circumstances and use advanced diagnostic techniques to determine whether you are a good candidate for knee surgery at this time. If you are ready to schedule an appointment, call our office at 610-375-4949. We look forward to helping you regain healthy, normal knee function so that you can get back to living your life.