Knee Replacement Recovery – How Long & What to Expect

Find out what to expect before surgery, the day of, and months after. Also, learn how long it normally takes to recover from knee replacement surgery.

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It makes no difference if you having a bilateral knee replacement or surgery on one knee; total knee replacement surgery can be scary.

How long does it take to recover from total knee replacement surgery? Generally, it takes 3 months for patients to recover from knee replacement surgery.

However, there are many variables come in to play such as health, age, weight, etc (source). Your doctor can give you the most accurate answer after surgery based on your specific situation. Also, you will not be back to your old self 10 years prior to the knee issues starting. It takes 3 months to get back to doing routine tasks with minimal discomfort.

This article will discuss what to expect before, during, and after total knee replacement surgery. Specifically, how orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rashid Ganji’s office handles patients having double knee replacement surgery.

How long does it take to recover from total knee replacement surgery? Generally, it takes 3 months for patients to recover from knee replacement surgery.

Deciding to Have Knee Surgery

There are many factors why someone would want to have surgery. Again, it depends on the patient. However, some of the main reasons patients have knee surgery are:

  • Very bad pain in the knee
  • Stiffness in the knee

  • Having difficulty getting around, completing routine tasks, getting out chairs, etc.

  • Swollen knee(s)
  • Suffering from deformities such as, knock knees (valgus), wind-blown knees (valgus), or bowlegged knees (varus)
  • You have done all other forms of treatment and nothing has helped improve the condition

If you suffer from any one or more of these conditions then see if total knee replacement surgery is right for you.

Visiting with the Knee Surgeon Before Surgery

After the surgeon looked at your X-ray & blood work they might ask you to see a cardiologist and anesthesiologist. It depends on your age, weight, and other health related conditions.surgeon ganji examine xray

The night before surgery you are not supposed to eat anything for at least 8 hours before the surgery. There are other steps to take before knee surgery such as, getting your home ready & have people assist you (Click here to see other things you should do to prepare for knee replacement surgery). Make sure you clean the knee area well the night before surgery.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

You should arrive at the hospital to prep 1-2 hours before surgery. You may not have seen the anesthesiologist. If this is the case they will visit you to ask a few questions and answer questions you have.

The anesthesiologist may decide to give you general anesthesia. This will put patients in a deep sleep. Another option is to have an epidural, which will completely numb the patient below the waist. Regardless, patients are under anesthesiology and won’t remember or feel anything. Regardless, the patient will be behind a curtain and will not be able to see the procedure taking place.

Dr. Ganji takes about 30-40 minutes to complete one knee. This is half the time of average surgeons. If a patient is having double knee replacement surgery then knee surgery will take about 1.5 hours. Dr. Ganji handles the joint for such a short amount of time. This speeds up the patient’s recovery time of total knee replacement surgery (TKR).

What to Expect After Surgery

what to expect after knee surgeryOnce the patient wakes up from surgery the process of recovery begins. The doctor will help treat any pain and discomfort you will be having based on your condition.

It is common for patients to start moving around the same day of the surgery. Either hanging their legs over the side of the bed or even try to walk with help. Many patients walk with help to the bathroom.

Nurses will explain how to do basic exercises while you’re lying down. Exercises help increase blood flow and prevent complications such as thrombosis. Thrombosis is when your blood doesn’t circulate and causes the blood to clot.

Based on how the surgery went, the doctor will explain how long you should remain in the hospital. Patients stay at the hospital anywhere from 1 to 3 days.

The day after knee surgery a physical therapist will come to visit you. They will explain the exercises you should do and schedule a time to come meet with you in your home.

Coming Home After Knee Surgery

The first few days home are most difficult because movement is hard. This is why preparing your home before surgery is a good idea. You should do the exercises explained by the physical therapist (PT).

After 1 to 3 days the PT will come to visit and explain what exercises you should do. Usually 3-5 exercises to help with recovery. Patients should do them throughout the day. We encourage family to help, but not do the actual exercises for them. Meaning, they shouldn’t lift the patient or their leg during the exercise. The PT will also schedule sessions at a swimming pool and meet you there.

Physical therapy plays a major role in the recovery time. When done, your muscles will strengthen which puts less pressure on your knees. This reduces the time it takes to recover from total knee replacement.

Dr. Ganji asks for a certain amount of physical therapy sessions to be completed in 2 weeks before visiting again for your follow up and removing the stitches.

First Follow-Up Appointment

About 14-18 days after surgery you will come in to visit your surgeon. Your doctor will check how the wound has healed, how well you are walking, and the range of motion in the knee.

The doctor will listen to any issues you are having, and prescribe the necessary medicine. Afterwards, the stitches are removed and you are able to wash the area for the first time.

This is when your surgeon is able to tell you how long it will take to recover from total knee replacement surgery.

3 Weeks After Knee Surgery

If you have been meeting with your PT and doing their exercises on your own then you will see great improvement. You will be able to move around better and without help for most activities.

Depending on your recovery, your physical therapist will ask you to take longer walks. You should also be able to return to routine activities, such as cooking and cleaning.

8 Weeks After Surgery

Now you’ll start to notice that you don’t need much help to do daily tasks.

You should continue exercising. Depending on how long you were suffering from knee arthritis, it has been a long time since you have done any sort of movement without help. This means that the muscles around the knee and in your legs are very weak.

Your physical therapist will see you less often, but you are to do the recommended exercises on your own. You should also continue to go to the pool on a regular basis.

3 Months After

You will have an appointment to visit your surgeon again. This is when most patients explain they have regained their life back. Expect to continue normal activities such as swimming, house chores, driving, etc. now.

The pain will be less, if any, now. However, some movements will cause discomfort. It is best to avoid those movements, and as your body adjusts it will get better.

If any issues occur during recovery call your surgeons office. You will get a number to call in case of an emergency. Don’t hesitate to call if you experience abnormal pain, stiffness, swelling, or unusual movement in the knee. It is best to take care of the problem as soon as it occurs.

Conclusion

A normal full recovery after total knee replacement surgery can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months.

No one can tell you except your surgeon and after certain milestones. On average, it takes 2 to 3 months for patients of Dr. Ganji to return to normal activities.