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What Is Recovery Like After a Knee Replacement?

Are you scheduled for knee replacement surgery? It’s one of the most common surgeries in the country, and it can be a great option for people dealing with severe knee arthritis or other debilitating knee conditions.

However, even though it promises to improve comfort and mobility, it’s still a major surgical procedure — and it’s normal to have questions. If you’re wondering what recovery is like after knee replacement, you’re in the right place.

Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics specializes in joint replacement, and we believe that understanding what to expect during the recovery process can help you better prepare mentally and physically for the road ahead.

Immediately post-surgery

Most knee replacement surgeries take about one to two hours. You’re under general anesthesia during the procedure, and we move you to a recovery room once surgery is complete.

We monitor you closely as the anesthesia wears off and over the course of the next few days. While you’re in the hospital, we prioritize pain management, wound care, and early mobilization. 

You take pain medication to keep discomfort at bay, and you can expect to start moving shortly after surgery. Depending on your individual needs, we usually recommend working with a physical therapist to initiate gentle movement exercises that promote circulation and prevent stiffness.

We may also encourage you to start walking with the assistance of crutches, a walker, or a cane. Though initial steps may feel challenging and uncomfortable, gradually increasing your activity helps reduce your risk of complications and promotes faster healing.

Your first few weeks at home

Before you’re discharged from the hospital, we give you a personalized recovery plan to follow at home. Be sure to follow our precautions, like avoiding certain movements or positions that could strain your newly replaced knee.

Consider asking friends or family members to stay with you and help around the house while you recuperate. Discomfort and swelling are common during this period, but following prescribed pain management strategies and applying ice packs can help minimize your symptoms.

As you continue healing, physical therapy plays a crucial role. Your therapist works with you to design a personalized exercise program to improve your range of motion, strength, and balance.

You will have in-person sessions with your therapist, along with exercises to do at home. Consistency and dedication are essential to achieving optimal outcomes and regaining independence in your daily activities.

The next two to three months

Around the six-week mark, you may begin to notice significant improvements in your knee function and overall well-being. Walking should become easier, and pain levels should decrease as you continue your rehabilitation plan.

We help you gradually transition from using assistive devices to walking unaided. Engaging in low-impact activities like swimming or stationary cycling can help you maintain cardiovascular fitness and promote joint flexibility without placing excessive stress on your knee joint.

But as you reintroduce activity, it’s important not to overdo it. Remember to strike a balance between pushing yourself to progress and avoiding overexertion, which could impede your recovery.

Long-term rehabilitation and beyond

For many people, knee replacement surgery delivers substantial pain relief and restored mobility within the first few months. However, the journey to full recovery continues beyond the initial recovery phase.

Commitment to ongoing exercise, healthy lifestyle habits, and regular follow-up appointments with our team are essential for sustaining long-term joint health and function. And as time passes, you can expect to gradually resume more vigorous activities like golfing, gardening, or even hiking.

Recovery after knee replacement surgery is a gradual process. It requires patience, perseverance, and support — but if you’re living with severe knee pain, it could be the solution to restore your mobility and improve your quality of life. 

Learn more about the benefits of knee replacement with a consultation at Manhattan Orthopedics. Call one of our offices in Astoria, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, New York, or request an appointment online now.

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