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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

What's recovery like after knee replacement?

Aug 30, 2022 09:55AM ● By Fred Cicetti

More than 9 out of 10 patients who have a total knee replacement have positive results. Most people report reduced pain and improved ability to perform common activities. 

About 300,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the U.S. Surgery usually takes about two hours. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are between the ages of 60 and 80.  

Within the first year after surgery, it’s good to gradually increase endurance. One pitfall to recovery is trying to do too much too soon.

Doctors will prescribe physical therapy exercises to help patients bend and extend the leg. Additionally, patients are encouraged to walk as much as they can. Stationary bicycles are recommended for muscle tone and flexibility. 

In time, other acceptable activities usually include dancing, golfing with spikeless shoes and a cart, and bicycling on flat ground. Don’t do anything that puts stress on the knee such as racket sports, football, baseball, basketball and skiing. And don’t lift anything heavier than 40 pounds. Once the wound is healed, patients can usually swim. 

It takes most patients six to eight weeks before they’re back in action. Some people may be able to drive within a week, providing their left knee was replaced and they have automatic transmission. If the right knee was replaced, most doctors recommend not driving for six to eight weeks. 

Here’s a list of modifications those recovering from knee replacement surgery might consider to make their home easier to navigate during recovery:

• Prepare a recovery area on one floor of your home. Designate a room in your house with a comfy chair and firm seat cushion (recliners work great because you can elevate your legs). Place most things you need within arm’s reach such as eyeglasses, cell phone and charger, TV remote, water and snacks, tissues and the most recent BEACON of course!

• Declutter and remove all loose carpets and electric cords.

• Rearrange furniture so you can maneuver with a walker or crutches. 

• Install a shower chair, gripping bar and toilet-seat riser in the bathroom.

• Use assistive devices such as a long-handled shoehorn, a long-handled sponge, and a grabbing tool or reacher to avoid bending over too far.

A new knee will probably not set off metal detectors, however, you should carry a medical alert card indicating you have an artificial knee just in case.

Send your general health questions to Healthy Geezer in care of the BEACON, or email him at [email protected]

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