A knee replacement surgery can be a life-changing moment for anyone. Some people feel happy about a brand-new knee, while others begin to be doubtful if they’ll ever get back to doing the daily activities they love.

But regardless of one’s perception, all emotions felt after a full knee replacement surgery are valid.

Recovering from knee replacement surgery can be difficult. There are many things you need to do in order to ensure a smooth and successful recovery.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss 10 knee replacement recovery tips that will help you heal quickly and return to your everyday life!

Knee Anatomy

To start, let’s take a look at the structure of our knees.

The knee is a complex joint with several bones, ligaments, and muscles supporting it. Also, it’s where the thighbone (femur) meets the shinbone (tibia). The knee acts as a weight-bearing joint, which means that it supports the weight of the body when we are standing, walking, or running.

Other than that, it’s responsible for absorbing shocks when we jump or land. The muscles that surround the knee joint help to stabilize the joint and allow us to move our leg. These muscles include the quadriceps (thigh), hamstring (back of thigh), and calf (leg) muscles. But if one of these muscles is weak, we begin to feel pain and become less mobile. This pain and lack of mobility can compound resulting in further dysfunction.

Pain and Injuries in the Knee

Anyone who has had a knee injury knows how debilitating the pain can be. For some people, knee pain is a chronic problem that can severely impact their quality of life. There are many potential causes of knee pain, but one of the most serious is a blood clot. While blood clots can occur anywhere in the body, they are particularly dangerous when they form in the leg.

As for knee injuries, they are caused by a sudden force, an impact, or musculoskeletal weakness resulting in non-contact injuries. Common injuries include fractures, strains, ligament tears (like the ACL), and meniscus tears. Experiencing any of these injuries makes it difficult to walk or put weight on the affected leg.

Partial vs Total Knee Replacement

When faced with the decision of whether to have partial or total knee replacement surgery, consult with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the best option for you. Both procedures involve replacing damaged or diseased knee joints with artificial ones, but there are some key differences.

Total knee replacement surgery involves replacing the entire joint – both the thighbone and the shinbone. The procedure is usually ideal for patients who have extensive damage to both bones.

Partial knee replacement surgery, on the other hand, only involves replacing a portion of the joint. It’s often a good option for patients who only have damage to one bone.


Recovery After Surgery

Immediately after surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery room and be closely monitored. You may feel drowsy from the medications used during your surgery. Once you’re awake and alert, you’ll be transferred to your hospital room.

Once you wake up, drink plenty of fluids and slowly get up and move around as soon as possible to help prevent blood clots. Nurses will teach you how to deep breathe and cough to help clear your lungs and prevent pneumonia. You’ll also be given pain medicine to help make you more comfortable. Most people stay in the hospital for 2-3 days after surgery, but this may vary depending on the type of surgery you had.

Knee Replacement Recovery Tips

Get a Knee Brace

After knee replacement surgery, patients will usually be directed to recover at home. This process typically includes the use of some special knee equipment, such as a knee brace, to help protect the new joint. A knee brace will help support your leg and keep your knee in the correct position.

Apply an Ice Pack

To ensure a successful recovery, ice your knee regularly. This greatly reduces swelling and promotes healing in the first few days after surgery. It’s a good idea to ice your knee for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. 

Do Ankle Pumps

Patients will also be asked to perform regular ankle pumps to help reduce swelling. In addition, it’s important to keep the knee moving as much as possible to prevent stiffness and encourage healing.

You should pump your ankle up and down for 10 repetitions every hour while you are awake. You may also need to wear compression stockings or use a compression machine to help keep the blood flowing in your leg.

Have a First Floor Living Space

it is important to make sure you have a first-floor sleeping space set up in advance. This could be a guest room, den, or even just a campsite-style bed in your living room. Wherever you choose to set up your space, make sure it’s close to a bathroom for easy access.

Walking and movement, in general, are difficult following this surgery. Minimizing your challenges post-surgery is paramount to your success.

Use Walking Aids

Walking aids, such as crutches or a walker, are necessary items for the first few weeks following surgery. These devices will help you to get around without putting too much strain on your new knee.

You may also need an assistive device when bathing or using the toilet. Preparing your home in advance in addition to acquiring these items will make post-operative life much easier.

Get a Shower Chair

A shower chair can be a great assistive device to have following knee replacement surgery. It allows you to shower without having to put any weight on your new joint, which is important for the first few weeks following surgery.

Get Rid of Throw Rugs and Electrical Chords

Next, create a safe environment for yourself at home. Be sure to remove any throw rugs or electrical chords that could cause you to trip and fall.

Have a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is an important part of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery. There are a few common reasons why this is the case.

First, eating healthy foods helps to improve overall health and healing time.

Second, certain nutrients are essential for tissue repair and for reducing inflammation.

Finally, maintaining a healthy weight is important for minimizing the stress on the new joint.

Be with Family

One of the most important things to remember after knee replacement surgery is that you’re not alone. There will be family members and friends who want to help you through the healing process. It is best to let them know what the best way is for them to help you.

For example, family members can help by doing chores around the house or cooking meals. As for your friends, they can act as your support system outside of the house by taking you out for a ride or bringing you to your favorite restaurant.

Do Some Knee Exercises

Knee exercises are an important part of the recovery process, as they help to strengthen the muscles around the new knee and improve range of motion.

Regular exercise is also important for long-term knee health, as it helps to maintain range of motion and prevent further joint damage. People who have had knee replacement surgery should start exercises as soon as possible after the surgery under the guidance of a physical therapist.


Trust the Process

The recovery phase after knee replacement surgery can be difficult. This is where the most important part of healing comes in; your belief in yourself.

After all, the first few weeks will be the most challenging as you adjust to your new activity level. You won’t be able to move around as much and would likely need help with normal activities and other daily tasks you used to easily do before surgery. However, don’t despair. Every day, you’ll get a little stronger and a little more mobile.

And before you know it, you’ll be back to your old self. So believe in yourself and your ability to recover from knee replacement surgery. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve by setting yourself up for success (as described above) and utilizing a positive mindset.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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