Following a total knee replacement, the rehabilitation is vital to the long term success of your surgery. As a general rule of thumb, Knee Surgery recovery can take 12 weeks. Obviously, the more detailed you follow your physical therapists’ plan, the more likely you will return to normal physical activity. This breakdown will let you know a basic set of expectations for the days and weeks that follow your surgery.
After the first day, your recovery plan should begin right after you wake up. With an assisted aid, such as a walker or crutches, you should stand, put light pressure on the knee, and begin walking. It is CRUCIAL that your recovery plan includes this sort of movement on your new knee in these first 24 hours.
By day two, a nurse or physical therapist will likely ask you to use a toilet instead of a bed pan. Around this time, a shift from heavy pain killers to lower dose medications should be recommended.
When your doctor recommends discharge, continue to follow all therapy recommendations at home – which now may include walking up and down stairs, and bending your knee to a right angle. It is very common to see swelling and bruising around the surgical areas for the first couple of weeks.
By week 3, you should notice a serious improvement in mobility. You will also need to maintain a reasonable amount of walking. Every day activities should become much easier and you still may require the slight aid of crutches or a cane.
If the weeks 4 thru 6 plans go smoothly, some doctors recommend going back to work around this time. But obviously, a doctors recommendations needs to be taken on a case by case basis. You should see significant reduction in swelling by this point and you will likely begin regaining a lot of your physical strength. However, still don’t overdo the exercise and lifting.
In weeks 7-11, your physical therapist will likely continue to monitor your activity levels – making sure you can stand on your toes comfortably, rotate your feet, bend and squat comfortably, etc. During this station, exercises like ellipticals and stationary bikes are highly recommended.
By week 12, you should be able to return to almost all of your physical activities from before the surgery. Aerobic exercises, light lifting, swimming, yoga, etc. After which, you should check in with your PT to make sure you have clearance for all activities. Once you can bring your knee to a bent 115 degree angle, you will like be over any residual and chronic pains from your surgery.