How long does it take to recover from a total knee replacement?
A knee replacement, additionally known as knee arthroplasty is done when someone has chronic, severe knee pain caused by injury or osteoarthritis. Once a knee replacement is done, it can last about 15-20 years! A doctor will remove the weakened end of the hip and thigh bones that attach to the knee joint and replace them with medical grade plastic and metal parts. According to The Center of Orthopedic Care in Oregon, in the US an annual total of about one million hip and knee replacements are
done, and 60% of those are in women. By 2030 they expect that number to increase by 673% to 3.5 million procedures per year. So knee replacements are very common, and are frequently completed by doctors!
After a knee replacement you should expect limited mobility in the knee joint, and some stitches, glue or tape at the site of incision which will need time to heal. (Don’t forget to use vitamin E to prevent scarring!) Your knee will need to be reassessed by your surgeon 10 to 21 days afterward and the stitches will need to be removed. Typically after surgery it will take 6 to 12 weeks for rest and continuous healing. You will rely on a walker for 1 to 3 weeks then crutches and full walking capabilities will return in 4 to 8 weeks. Overall, the total recovery will be about 3 to 6 months. The success of the following months of physical therapy and rehabilitation will determine the total length in time for healing. Therefore it is so important to be diligent about attending physical therapy, performing the exercises at home as directed by your physical therapist, following the recommendations for aftercare, eating a proper diet and resting will result in a shorter recovery window.
If you and your doctor decide that a knee replacement is necessary it will require about 6 months of overall healing and recuperation. Following the instructions of your doctor and physical therapist are key because it will determine the longevity and health of your knee in the future. It is difficult to rest, but that investment in your health will alleviate any chronic pain and increase knee joint mobility which will make life easier in the long run.
Knee replacement surgery by the numbers. The Center. (2018, January 25). Retrieved November 11, 2021, from https://www.thecenteroregon.com/medical-blog/knee-replacement-surgery-by-the-numbers/.