Q: What is the recovery time for knee replacement surgery?

A: Recovery after knee surgery typically takes about 12 weeks.  This recovery time estimation is dependent on adherence to crucial post-surgery rehabilitation steps along with a high degree of commitment and self-discipline. 

Knee surgery patients generally start rehabilitation immediately after discharge from the hospital. Often patients are admitted to a rehab facility as an inpatient during the recovery period. They begin with walking and standing aids, and individual physical therapy sessions focused on immediate use of the new artificial knee, starting with short standing and walking exercises. Within a few days, the patient begins walking on stairs and has 90 degrees of bending mobility. The following three to six weeks are spent on a structured physical therapy program focusing on range of motion, strength conditioning and increased mobility. It is important to keep active and speak with a doctor about your progress and recovery.

Q: How long does it take you to completely heal from knee surgery?

A: The healing time for knee surgery can take six weeks to a year, but this time depends on the type of surgery and the patient’s medical history. The type of injury to the knee and the outcome of the surgery also determine how quickly a patient heals after knee surgery, After four to six weeks, knee surgery patients may still have to take narcotic medications to manage their pain. Two months after the surgery, patients who continue their physical therapy regimen generally experience reduced swelling and inflammation and are able to recover faster. Physical therapy is crucial in helping patients regain mobility and flexibility within six months after knee surgery.

Q: How long before you can walk again after a knee surgery?

A:  Patients cannot normally walk by themselves within the first 24 hours of the knee procedure. Assistive devices, such as canes, walkers and crutches, provide the needed support to enable a patient to walk short distances on level surfaces. Three weeks after the surgery, the patient may enjoy longer walks with the guidance of a physical therapist.

Normal walking involves traveling on foot for several blocks without any assistive devices. This usually occurs within 7 to 11 weeks of the rehabilitation process, which also signals the return to driving, shopping and housekeeping activities.

The entire Senior Rehab staff at Limestone Health Facility works as a team to assure that patients reach their full potential and recover from knee replacement surgery. All our caregivers— RNs, LPNs, and CNAs—are trained to help patients practice the lessons learned in one-on-one therapy sessions, encouraging the level of skill needed at home. Our nursing and therapists’ efforts are further supported through our occupational, nutritional and social services for a comprehensive approach to healing. Instruction in managing common symptoms/complications give patients the confidence to continue an active lifestyle after they leave the Rehab Center. For more information about rehab after knee surgery, please call Edie Belue at 256-667-8642 today.