Health Blog

Total Knee Replacement Recovery Process

Total knee replacement
When you need to have total knee replacement, the recovery period tends to lie heavily on your mind. It’s a critical part of getting you back on your feet and into your normal lifestyle again, as without it you will not heal properly. Whatever the reason you’ve had the surgery for, you can, at the very least, know what to expect from the recovery. Below we’ve put together a little timeline for the twelve weeks of rehabilitation, so that you can know what your goals are for your healing.

The Beginning:

Rehabilitation for knee replacement, unlike in some other surgeries, begins pretty much from the moment you wake up from surgery. Within the first twenty-four hours you will be back up on your feet with the help of your physical therapist. It’s actually crucial that you start using your new knee as soon as possible. You’ll be given a set of exercises that will build your muscles up and your physical therapist will help you through them every day. They’ll let you know how you’re supposed to get in and out of bed (you will be using an assistive device for the next few weeks, so as not to strain your surgery site too much) as well as move around. While you’ll be moving, you won’t be moving much, so you’ll have a nurse to help with changing bandages, dressing, bathing and using the toilet.

It’s the job of your physical therapist to make sure that you understand everything that you’re supposed to be doing to keep your knees responsibly active. You, though, need to be sure to ask questions if you’re not sure, and to keep up with the exercises. Yes, it may be incredibly uncomfortable to get up to use the bathroom, but it’s better in the long run to use a regular toilet than to stick with the bedpans, as strengthening the muscles in your legs is key to full recovery.


By the time of your discharge, you should be able to have increased your exercise and activity. You should also be able to shift to lower pain killer levels at this point. The time spent in the hospital varies from patient to patient, depending on their personal recovery level. Be sure to know what your physical therapist and doctor expect from you so you don’t feel as though you need to rush through your recovery.

Upon discharge, however, you should be able to :

  • Bend your knee to a minimum of 90 degrees
  • Dress and bathe on your own
  • Rely only minimally on your assistive device
  • Get in and out of bed with the least amount of help from assistive device
  • Walk up and down stairs using a walker or crutches
  • Know exactly what exercise and activities your physical therapist expects from you

Week 4 to 8…

So long as you’re keeping up with your exercise and rehab that your physical therapist has laid out for you, your recovery should be on track. You should, by this point, notice a rather large improvement to your knee and leg. You’ll be able to walk longer, and feel more independent. Talk with your doctor and therapist about returning to work and your usual activities. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to return to your job at the time, depending on your career, but you shouldn’t let that put you off of your recovery. Everyone’s recovery is different; some can start driving again as soon as four weeks after surgery, some take more than six. If you’re not sure you’re ready, than consult with your therapist or doctor.

By the sixth week after surgery, you should be able to:

  • Continue your exercise and rehab easily
  • Notice a decrease in inflammation and swelling
  • Return to everyday activities such as cooking, laundry, light cleaning
  • Walk up to half a mile, and climb stairs easily

Week 9 to 12…

Within these weeks you should notice that you’re returning to your normal lifestyle. You should be able to walk around unassisted for some time without any physical exertion or pain. Housekeeping, driving, shopping and other light work should be able to be commenced without any dire issues. Your therapist will, of course, be monitoring your recovery and should be modifying your rehab as needed. You may end up following some of the following exercise:

  • Toe and heel raises (alternating standing on your tip-toes, and then back onto your heels)
  • Partial knee bends while standing
  • Hip abductions
  • Standing on one leg at a time, for as long as possible
  • Step-ups
  • Bicycling with a stationary bike

Some people may feel as though this period is redundant. You feel fine, you can do almost as much as you could before, and you don’t have much pain. Why do you need to keep up with your rehab? If you want your knee to continue to service you in the long time, you won’t be giving up on your exercises. Those muscles are susceptible to easy degradation due to your recent surgery, and any prolonged lapse in your rehab can take you back weeks in progress.

Diligently following your rehab will have you up and about and returning to your previous lifestyle. You should feel little to no pain at this point, when engaging in normal activities (there are some that you should probably avoid for some time, which we will cover for a moment), as well as no loss in range of motion. It’s important to remember to keep in contact with your doctor and therapist, and follow their instructions to keep your knee in tip-top shape. High-impact sports such as running, aerobics, skilling, basketball and football should probably be avoided in order to keep from injuring your knee.

After about a year, you should be back to 100 percent. It’s important to keep in touch with your therapist, and have periodical check-ups to make sure everything is still running smoothly. If you find that you’re having unexpected trouble with your knee at any point, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. If you have any other questions regarding the recovery process of a knee replacement, feel free to check out to reach out to us.


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAIL LISTDiscover the solution to pain-free living.
Sign up today for monthly health tips.

Our Reviews
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
16:26 14 Aug 19
I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
Nancy Guenther
Nancy Guenther
15:28 12 Jul 19
Absolutely awesome! My walking has improved 110%. And my pain level is zero. I highly recommend them. will be amazed how much better you feel.
Tracie Baxter
Tracie Baxter
20:24 03 Jul 19
This was the only place that could help with my TMJ. If you’re suffering from TMJ go see Noel! He really understands the condition. I no long have to deal with constant pain! The whole staff at this office is amazing and very welcoming.
Cindy Standiford
Cindy Standiford
21:33 28 Jun 19
The whole team is great!! I’m getting great care! I recommend Orthopedic & Balance for any issues you might have.
Joseph Mulholland
Joseph Mulholland
19:53 09 May 19
Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
Trool u
Trool u
19:44 24 Apr 19
I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
sharon Kramer
sharon Kramer
16:23 18 Apr 19
My experience has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in getting me to feeling better. The staff does a remarkable job and are fully qualified in their respective areas. The staff made it fun coming here and they were very caring and helpful with their clients!!
Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
Paul Grant
Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
See All Reviews