Some of the most common questions people have after a knee replacement is how long the recovery will take and what the rehabilitation process will look like. While there’s no better advice than what you’ll hear from your doctor, there are some common timelines and protocols that are followed. These can give you an idea of the work and patience involved after getting the surgery.
Right After Surgery
When we say that physical rehabilitation begins right after your surgery, we’re not talking about in a few days or weeks. Your first session with a physical therapist will likely be within the first 24 hours after you come out of anesthesia. Not only is this important for maintaining mobility and building strength, it’s also much better for you as a patient. It allows for shorter hospital stays — meaning that you’re exposed to less infection and you get to enjoy a significantly smaller bill at the end.
In order to leave the hospital, you will need to show the team caring for you that you’ll be able to make it on your own. That means being able to do simple tasks, such as use the restroom and dress yourself. You’ll take your first few steps after the surgery using an assistive walker. If you’ll need to use stairs in your home, your physical therapist will often make that a requirement of discharge as well. Their goal is to make sure you’re able to resume normal life as quickly as possible.
Move Toward Independence
In the first few weeks at home, your goal is usually to move around more and more with less and less assistance, as long as it’s safe to do so. It may surprise you, but by the end of those three or four weeks, you can often expect to get back onto (literal) bicycle. Swimming and stationary cycling are both suggested forms of exercise for many people at this point. In fact, they’re more like required! You’ll need to get used to moving around with your new knee, which means getting active again.
For people who let chronic pain take over their motivation to stay active, it might be time to pick up some new habits.