Knee Replacement Rehab Timeline
In a fast-paced world, “How long does knee replacement recovery take?” is one of the most common questions asked about the surgery.
Other similar questions include, How long will I be “out” of my normal routine?How long before I can be active again the way that I used to be? When can I drive? Will I be able to attend my granddaughter’s graduation in 1month?Can I go on the cruise my husband and I planned for our wedding anniversary in 2 months? Can I drive over 3 hours to celebrate thanksgiving with my family weeks after surgery?
If you have asked one of these questions or a similar question, you are not alone.
A timeline created by healthline shows the recovery trajectory according to traditional industry standards.
This infographic covers the “average” recovery timeline. As noted from the graph, time frames for passing through phases II through IV are variable and can last from 1 to 3 weeks.
Why Do Recovery Times Vary So Much?
Why does it take some people 1 week to get through phase II and another person 3 weeks? This is the million dollar question. Knee replacement recovery is very simple when done right. The problems occur when patients fall into a number of booby traps that will cause them to treadmill; working and working but not making true progress. Identifying those pitfalls and showing how to avoid them is critical.
What is important to realize is that you do not want to leave a 1-3 weeks variability to chance.
After years in the industry, I can predictably tell you where people go wrong and the ways knee replacement recovery is unwittingly prolonged. My book will give you all the answers in easy to read layman’s language. It can be read in 1-3 evenings and will act like an insurance plan in case your assigned rehab professional isn’t quite as experienced.
Double Knee Replacement Recovery Time
What is different about bilateral knee replacement recovery? Of course it’s double the rehab work and usually requires a facility placement secondary to the difficulty of coming to stand from average height furniture found in a typical home. A raised hospital bed is a godsend and facilitate early mobility.
Most people are aware of the slightly higher risk associated because of the added length of the surgery itself. The risks associated with knee replacement rehab are elevated as well. Everyone has heard of people who had a “bad” single knee outcome unrelated to poor surgical technique, but a “bad” double knee outcome can be disastrous. If you are planning to do two knees at once, don’t proceed without educating yourself about the rehab process before surgery. Be able to commit ahead of time to the work involved and the level of diligence required. Read more about the mental aspect of knee replacement recovery here
Knee Replacement Recovery Time-Average Swelling
Managing swelling is one of the key points of control and is critical for success. Strive to achieve a steady and consistent reduction in swelling. If you have significant fluctuations, swelling being manageable one day and then blowing up the next, chances are that rehabilitation mistakes are being made. The two main culprits are; increased wt bearing/walking early on in recovery or too aggressive therapy. Aggressive being defined by a resulting reactionary swelling following a physical therapy treatment period.
Knee Pain Recovery Time
Ideally, pain levels should remain fairly stable, and not fluctuate wildly. To achieve this, use narcotic pain medicine for the first two weeks after knee replacement surgery at the prescribed dosage to deal with the chemical pain of trauma. This advice is similar to what I mentioned about swelling. Wild fluctuations in pain will hinder the desire to do just about anything consistently, not to mention focusing on range of motion, which is the number one goal following surgery.
Not focusing on range early in the game is one of the biggest mistakes made by total knee replacement patients. After the first couple of weeks or earlier, patients want off of the narcotic pain pills for multiple reasons. Range development without the assistance of narcotics usually results in prolonged knee replacement recovery marked by a dreadful snail’s pace.
Achieving 90 degrees range of motion by the end of your hospital stay, should be the first benchmark (Medication levels are at their highest). The second goal is 120-125 degrees range of motion in 2 weeks provided there have been no long term range restrictions prior to surgery.
Bottom line, waiting to develop range will inevitably lengthen the struggle with “pain” and discomfort.