Knee Replacement Recovery And Rehabilitation A Timeline

The recovery and rehabilitation process plays a crucial role in helping you get back on your feet and resume an active lifestyle. It can help you heal from surgery faster and greatly improve your chances for long-term success. It’s important that you commit to a plan and push yourself to do as much as possible each day.

This blog would surely help you understand the schedule and importance of recovery after a knee replacement surgery.

An overview of recovery from knee replacement surgery

You have got four phases in your recovery process:

  • Phase I
  • Phase II
  • Phase III
  • Phase IV


Phase I

This is the phase immediately after your surgery where you require complete rest. Within the period of 24 hours, you will be asked to stand and walk with the assistance of certain devices as advised by your physical therapist. To avoid falling down, it is always advised to have someone by your side for assistance when you try to get out of the bed. In fact, it’s crucial to get up and try walking on your artificial knee as soon as possible.

You must practice what your physical therapist (PT) advises. He would explain to you the simplest exercises that you must perform to strengthen your muscles. You will be detailed about how to get out of the bed and move around by using the devices such as a walker, crutches, or a stick (cane).


Your PT may ask you to walk for brief periods using an assistive device. They may also request that you use a regular toilet rather than a bedpan and ask you to try to climb a few steps at a time. As you recover from surgery your activity level should increase. You may be asked to continue using the continuous passive machine (CPM).


By now your knee should be getting stronger and you should be able to increase your exercise and activity level. Your doctor will be shifting you from prescription-strength painkillers to lower dose pain medication. Your PT may ask you to go on longer walks outside your hospital room, climb up and down a flight of stairs, move onto a chair or a toilet without assistance, and reduce the use of a walker, crutches, or a cane. At discharge, you should be able to:

  • bend your knee well, preferably to a minimum of a 90-degree angle.
  • dress and bathe on your own.
  • minimally rely on an assistive device.
Phase II

You should be able to move around more freely while experiencing reduced pain by the time you’re back home. You’re likely to rely less and less on an assistive device. You should be engaged in a daily regimen of exercise as prescribed by your PT. Bathing and dressing should be easier, and you may be able to go outside for longer walks.


Phase III

You will notice an overall improvement in your replaced knee during this phase. You would not require the assistance of devices to walk far distances. Ideally, you will feel as though you’re regaining your independence. Activities such as cooking, cleaning, and other household chores should be much easier to perform. You should consult with your PT and surgeon to determine when you will be able to return to work and regular activities. You must attend rehabilitation sessions regularly, which is helpful in monitoring and improving the mobility and range of motion.

Phase IV

At this point, you should be well on the road to recovery. You may be able to walk a couple of blocks without any type of assistive device and engage in other basic activities that require physical exertion, including driving, housekeeping, and shopping. Your PT will be monitoring your exercises and perhaps modifying them as your knee improves and you’re able to move it more freely.

Beyond week 13… keep exercising!!

You should notice gradual and continuing improvement in your knee during this period. As time goes on, pain should subside. However, it’s important to stay in touch with your surgeon and have periodical check-ups to ensure that the knee is continuing to work properly. Exercise acts as the best healer after a knee replacement surgery. Exercising helps in regaining the strength of the muscle around the knee. Keep walking! You will get better as you increase the distance, you walk day-by-day.

Work out with the guidance of your physical therapist or on your own. Stay active and make the most of your new joint, to keep it in a good shape! Know that the harder you set goals and work, the earlier you get recovered. Never forget that recovery is the restoration of better condition.

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