Stages of Knee Replacement Recovery - Functional Advantage
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Stages of Knee Replacement Recovery

A knee replacement can mean a world of change to someone who’s been dealing with bad knees. Sometimes the recovery can come as a surprise, so we want to give you an idea of what to expect when you get a total knee replacement!

Day 1

Knee replacement rehab begins as soon as the day after surgery. At this time, you might have a physical therapist help you stand and walk within the first 24 hours. You may also get instructions from your doctor to begin some gentle exercises in order to prevent stiffness and scar tissue.

Some pain, swelling, and bruising can be expected after surgery. Make sure you get plenty of rest to let your body recover so you can feel better more quickly!

Days 2-3

As you recover from surgery, you’ll be able to be more active. You’ll be able to walk longer with a walker or a cane. At this time, you should be working on extending and flexing your knee, but not overdoing it.

You’ll likely be in the hospital for one to three days after surgery, but this depends on the physical therapy you need, how quickly you progress, your level of health before surgery, your age, and medical history.

You will most likely get a prescription for more physical therapy at a clinic where you will be given more exercises to work on. (This is where we come in!) If you have a script, you can go to any clinic of your choice, even if it’s not written on the script.

Week 3

By the time you get home, you should be able to move around better with less pain. You should be able to perform the exercises given to you by your physical therapist in order to improve range of motion and mobility.

At this time, you should be able to move your knee more, though it might be limited by some pain and swelling. When you’re walking, you can use a cane to help you be more independent after surgery. Hold the cane in the hand opposite to your new knee and move your cane and surgical leg at the same time when you walk. Your physical therapist can help you with this!

Weeks 4-6

If you’ve been going to physical therapy and keeping up on your exercises, you should notice a dramatic difference from after surgery with your knee. You should be able to bend your knee much more easily with less swelling and pain. At this stage, your physical therapist will most likely be helping you walk more independently without a cane or assistive device.

You may be in physical therapy for longer than six weeks, and that’s okay! The goal of physical therapy is to help you be as independent as you were before surgery. This means improving range of motion and strength to help you to be independent and get back to the activities you enjoyed before.

Knee replacements can have a long road to recovery, but will make a world of difference in your daily life. It may take up to 6 months to a year to fully recover from a knee replacement.

It's important to remember that every knee replacement is different. If your recovery doesn't fit this timeline, don't worry! We can always answer any questions you may have along the way.  

Call us today at 989-573-8588 if you’re thinking about getting a knee replacement and ask if you would benefit from our pre-hab program!


Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
Neil Sauer

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