If you’ve been told that you need a knee replacement, you may be wondering how long you should expect the recovery process to take. Knee replacement recovery times can vary depending on a number of different factors—including the patient’s overall health, the condition of the patient’s knee, and the type of knee replacement being performed—so your best bet is to speak with your doctor, who will be able to provide you with an estimate that’s tailored to your specific circumstances.
With that being said, if you undergo a traditional knee replacement, you can probably expect to remain in the hospital for three to five days following your procedure. Hospital personnel will likely help you stand and walk within 12 to 24 hours after your surgery, and you’ll probably be able to walk on your own (but with the help of an assistive device like crutches, a cane, or a walker) after approximately one week. You’ll likely need to continue using one of these devices for about six weeks following surgery, after which time you’ll be able to resume your normal activities (although you should still avoid activities that involve extreme movements or put you at risk of falling). It’s not uncommon for pain to continue for about three months after a knee replacement, and for swelling to persist for about a year. In the two years following your procedure, scar tissue will continue healing, and your muscles will gradually be restored to their previous condition.
Recovery From a Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement
In some instances, orthopedic specialists may be able to perform knee replacements using minimally invasive techniques. When compared to a traditional knee replacement, a minimally invasive knee replacement requires smaller incisions and less cutting of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissue (for example, while a traditional knee replacement often requires an 8- to 12-inch incision, a minimally invasive knee replacement generally requires a 3- to 6-inch incision). As a result, many patients who undergo a minimally invasive procedure experience shorter recovery times (although it’s important to note that this isn’t always the case). Minimally invasive knee replacements aren’t appropriate for everyone, and your doctor will be able to let you know whether you’re a candidate for this type of procedure.
Tips for How to Shorten Your Recovery
Your doctor will provide you with instructions to follow while you’re recovering from your knee replacement. You should always rely on your doctor’s instructions, but with his or her approval, there are certain steps you can take to minimize your recovery time and achieve the best possible results:
- Continue taking pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed.
- Keep up with any exercises or stretches that were recommended by your doctor or your physical therapist.
- Wear supportive shoes.
- Walk around every couple of hours during the day.
- Raise your leg while sitting (but don’t prop up your knee while sleeping, since doing so could cause a permanent bend in your knee).
- Apply an ice pack for approximately 20 minutes every three to four hours.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that’s high in Vitamins A and C.
- Avoid kneeling, sitting with your legs crossed, and twisting your knee.
Knee Replacements in Reno, Carson City & Nearby Areas
If you need a knee replacement and you’re in Reno, Carson City, or any of the surrounding areas, you can turn to the orthopedic specialists at Tahoe Fracture & Orthopedic Medical Clinic. We’re a full-service orthopedic clinic that’s been serving this community since 1966, during which time we’ve treated tens of thousands of patients. Our team is highly experienced in performing knee replacements and other joint replacement procedures.