Unless you’ve lived with knee pain or suffered an injury to your knee, you probably don’t think much about how important the joint is. Your knee is, of course, important for walking and running, but also just for sitting in a chair comfortably, or getting into or out of a car.
At Orthocenter, our team of highly qualified experts specializes in keeping you moving as comfortably as possible. When we recommend knee replacement surgery, we do so with the goal of helping you live a healthy, active life, with the least amount of pain possible.
Take a moment as we discuss what you can expect in the days, weeks, months, and years following your knee replacement.
One thing you should know is that the majority of patients who have this procedure are glad they did. In fact, studies have shown satisfaction rates vary between 80-100%.
The days after surgery
Most people stay in the hospital 1-4 days after knee replacement surgery. The length of your stay depends on several factors, including your overall health, how well you can do the activities the hospital staff asks you to do, and whether you have help at home, among others.
During your hospital stay, you’re likely to begin working with a physical therapist so you can get out of bed and walk with an assistive device, such as a walker or a cane. The staff keeps an eye on your incision and checks to make sure it’s healing well with no sign of infection.
Before your procedure, you need to make preparations for when you come home afterward. You may want to have some meals that can be simply reheated during your recovery, or have arrangements for someone to help you with meals.
If your bedroom is upstairs, you may want to have a temporary place to sleep downstairs. A few preparations beforehand can save you a good deal of difficulty following your procedure.
The weeks after surgery
Unfortunately, it takes more than a couple of weeks to recover from knee replacement surgery. In the weeks following your procedure, you should expect to be able to walk without an assistive device in 2-3 weeks, and to be able to drive in 4-6 weeks.
You need to make sure to follow your doctor’s and your physical therapist’s instructions. If you have a job that mostly involves sitting, you may be able to return to work in 4-6 weeks, but if your work involves more physical activity, you need to wait about three months.
Remaining active is especially important during this time. Your muscles need to recover so they can adequately support your new knee. Maintaining strength and mobility is a crucial part of recovery.
The months after surgery
People typically return to most of their normal activities within about three months of knee replacement surgery. You can’t return to everything at once, but a gradual return to more normality happens. Many people are completely recovered 6-12 months after their procedure.
The years after surgery
Modern knee replacement components last much longer than those used previously. Most of the time, a prosthetic knee joint lasts about 15 years.
To protect your new joint, you should exercise extreme caution when it comes to activities like skiing, running, or playing sports like tennis or basketball. If these activities are an important part of your life, you should discuss your situation with your doctor. You may need to look for other activities that are more appropriate.
Although we recommend surgery with the goal of helping you improve your health and quality of life, we don’t suggest that knee replacement surgery will mean you no longer have knee pain. You may have pain in the weeks and months following surgery, and a few people, about 20% continue to have chronic knee pain.
When you come to Orthocenter, you can expect our team to make treatment recommendations based on your individual situation. We provide guidance and advice only after a thorough evaluation, and we’re always happy to answer your questions.
If you’d like to learn more about knee replacement surgery and what you can expect, schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations in Red Bank, Morganville, or Holmdel, New Jersey.