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What Should I Expect After A Knee Replacement?



Are you wondering what’s normal after knee replacement?  Am I doing well, should I be doing better, etc…………..


Let’s discuss what you can EXPECT.


  • First of all, everyone is unique. DO NOT compare yourself to your friend, neighbor, or family member who has had their knee replaced.  You will heal at your own pace.


  • Your knee motion before your surgery will play a part in your motion afterward. Your surgeon’s goal is always to improve your movement but some things cannot always be overcome.


  • You want your knee to lay as flat as possible when it’s straight out on the bed. You should practice pushing your knee down into the bed and hold it for counts of 5. 


  • You should be able to gently bend your knee. At first, the goal is to get it to 90 degrees (your ankle should be below your knee in a chair) with a gradual increase in the bend every week.


  • Everyone wants to know how long their pain will last! It’s tough the first couple weeks, but should get better with every passing day.  Use the pain medicine prescribed by your surgeon.  You need to take enough at first to feel comfortable so you can move your knee.  As time goes on, you’ll start to cut back on the medicine.


  • Sleeping at night can be a challenge. You’ve used your leg all day, there is more swelling toward the end of the day, and you don’t have distractions during the night to keep your mind off the pain.  Take pain medicine at bedtime.  For awhile, you might need a second pain pill in the middle of the night.  Keep some crackers nearby so you don’t take the medicine on an empty stomach.


  • You might have swelling and bruising in your operated leg. If it’s extensive, this might scare you.  This is normal.  To reduce the swelling, get 2-3 pillows and lay them long-ways.  Put your leg on top of the pillows so it’s supported from above the knee to your lower calf.  Your toes should be above your heart.  Lay like that for 45 minutes 3-4 times a day.  While you’re relaxing, take that time to ice your knee.


  • You might have some numbness around your knee, especially on the outside of the knee. This is normal.  As your skin nerves regenerate, the numbness will get less and less.


  • Your knee will be swollen and warm for a long time, maybe even 6-9 months after surgery. There is increased blood supply flowing to your knee to heal it and this takes time. As long as your incision is healed and the skin is not red, the warmth is okay.


  • Most surgeons let you kneel on your new knee down the road. Check with your surgeon to make sure it’s okay.  You don’t want to kneel on it for several months because the tissues are healing.  Some people return to kneeling with no difficulty and others say it feels “weird”. 


  • Make sure you keep up your exercise program. You have about six weeks before the scar tissue in your knee sets up.  Once that happens, getting more motion in the knee will be challenging.  Make sure you’re ahead of the game and do your exercises!  It’s important to keep up an exercise program long-term. 


Remember, YOU are your new NORMAL.  Make it a good normal!



***Always follow your surgeon’s recommendations first and foremost.



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