March 14, 2016
After having knee surgery, it’s normal to have a lot of questions. “Why can’t I lift my leg?”, “How am I supposed to use the bathroom?”, “Is this amount of pain normal?”, and last but certainly not least, “What’s the average recovery time for knee replacement surgery?”etc.
Before you say anything realize this: It’s normal for anyone that’s uncomfortable or in a bit of distress to want to get out of it as soon as possible. You’re not the only one who’s had these questions or similar ones. It happens with most anyone after they’ve had a knee (or two!) replaced.
I have personally asked people who have recently gone through the surgery “What’s the one question you have about your rehab program?”
What’s The Timeline For Total Knee Recovery
The answer they give more than any other is they want to have a better understanding of the knee replacement recovery timeline. It seems that during the whole process that this bit of information has either been forgotten or lost site of.
That’s probably because it wasn’t adequately emphasized during the build up to the knee replacement surgery date. When you’re getting ready to undergo a major surgery like this, there is a lot of preparation that your doctors and you have to go through.
The long and the short of it is that people really want to know what to expect after having a total knee. They want to get back to their lives. They have stuff that need’s doing and they can’t remember if anyone has said exactly how long is recovery after knee replacement surgery.
There is no ball park answer to recovery time. But, for a lot of people about 3-4 months is usually when they start feeling really confident about their abilities. But, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be totally healed by this time. Many doctors say 6 months to a year.
Many people, after getting a tkr, don’t realize that their muscles are going to be very weak after being down for several months. It takes time to heal, and then build strength, and them place demands on the repaired leg. Keep in mind, it is a major surgery.
How Long Will It Take To Get Better After TKR
And, your recovery time is also dependent on how well you heal, if you have any co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity, heart problems, etc. If you have other things that will slow you down or affect your healing process, then you may take a little longer than they next person to get back in the saddle.
You’re usually discharged to home within the first week of surgery. And, you’re going to feel pretty useless during the first couple of weeks after surgery. But work on your range of motion and keeping your swelling down by elevating and using a good ice pack.
STAY AHEAD OF YOUR PAIN! By taking your pain meds routinely and using ice.
By about the end of week 2 you’ll be walking pretty well but still using the walker. You’re going to still need to really focus on your bending and straightening.
At the end of week 3 you’ll probably start feeling a lot better about yourself and see some light at the end of the tunnel. Your leg will still be stiff but it won’t hurt as much and you’ll be able to move it around better.
This is when the inflammatory process starts to wind down. Having gotten the staples removed and with the swelling diminished, you should start seeing good gains in range of motion. That is if you’ve been diligent with your exercise routine.
You will probably start forgetting to use your walker and find that you’re pushing your limits a little too much. You’ll know this because you’re going to find that you “over do it” and have to spend time recovering.
Now you’re probably really feeling a little more “frisky”. However, just because you feel this way does not mean that you and your knee are “ready to get back in the game”.
This is a critical time that you really need to be careful. You’re going to feel like doing a lot more physical activity and feel as though you’re a super hero. But, you’re still not out of the woods. Your body is still recovering from the trauma of the surgery.
Getting some insight from your outpatient physical therapist at this time is a good idea. Progress slowly in the amount of activity that you want to do and remember, high impact things like jogging or playing tennis are things that should be avoided.
How To Best Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery
The best thing to do to ensure a swift and speedy recovery is to follow your doctor’s recommendations and those of any other health care professional you’re working with.
Get into a daily routine of working on your range of motion and managing your swelling. Rest so that your operated leg is not constantly irritated and inflamed.
Make sure that you’re diet and water intake is good enough to nourish your body and supply it with all the healing nutrients you need.
And, be patient.
Nature may seem like it’s taking ages to do it’s job. But, that’s just because we don’t understand all the things that are going on behind the scenes. Trust that your body knows what it’s doing and things will probably turn out just fine.