Recovery After Total Knee Replacement

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To see the full benefit of knee replacement, an exercise program will be a necessary part of the recovery process. Exercise can reduce swelling, decrease pain, improve range-of-motion, build strength, improve balance and develop endurance. Most patients are able to return to sedentary jobs and activities such as driving within four to six weeks while more demanding activities and occupations may take longer. It is recommended you dedicate 30-60 minutes each day for exercises. You can break up your exercise routine and do some exercises in the morning and others in the afternoon or perform different types of exercises on different days.

It is recommended that you dedicate 30-60 minutes each day for exercise.

How do you get started?

Start your exercise program with a warm-up period of stretching followed by more specific exercises for the knee muscles. We recommend using over-the-counter anti- inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, meloxicam or a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, before or after exercising to help with swelling and discomfort. Please follow your physician’s guidance and recommendations regarding medication.

Tips for stretching exercises

  • Warm-up by walking 5-10 minutes to get your muscles ready
  • Stretch in a slow controlled manner and avoid rapid movements
  • Perform each stretch until you experience a tolerable discomfort in the muscle
  • Try and hold the stretch for 30 seconds, relax for 5 seconds, and then slowly repeat the exercise
  • Following your stretching program cool down for 5-10 minutes by walking or applying ice to you knee

Tips for strengthening exercises

  • Strengthening exercises are usually performed after warm-up and stretching exercises
  • Exercises should be performed as “sets” and “repetitions”
  • Remember to control the muscles to slowly return to the original starting position
  • Take a deep breath between repetitions and rest between sets
  • Following your strengthening program cool down for 5-10 minutes by walking or applying ice to the involved muscles
  • Slight muscle discomfort can be expected. These exercises should not cause pain. If you experience pain, back off and modify your technique. If pain is still present, we recommend avoiding the specific, painful exercise.

Tips for balance exercises

  • Balance exercises are usually started 4-6 weeks after surgery and are performed at the end of the workout program
  • Be sure to have a chair, countertop or railing close by `in case you loose your balance