Recovering From Knee Surgery Timeline

Posted on Sep 1, 2020, by

Does living with knee pain make your life miserable?  Does it hurt to walk up and down stairs? Do you have trouble sleeping because you can’t get away from the pain? Do the simple things in life just feel too hard?  Are doing daily living activities getting painful?  

If that’s the case, you’re probably looking for options to help you live a more active life with less pain. Today, there are multiple options available to help you with knee pain.. Surgery and then recovering from knee surgery can seem daunting at first, but with a little patience and therapy, you can look forward to doing most of the things you can’t do now.

When you go to an experienced orthopedic surgeon, who has performed thousands of knee procedures, you can expect outstanding results and the best chance for an active life. At the Kennedy Center, every person receives an individualized treatment plan and expectations for recovering from knee surgery.

This knee replacement recovery timeline gives you an overall outline of the typical recovery. Keep in mind, recovery is different for everyone and your personal recovery timeline could differ from what’s below. As always, if you have any questions, contact us at The Kennedy Center.

How long is knee surgery recovery?

The Kennedy Center offers a variety of options for knee procedures. The one that’s best for you depends on what and how severe your condition is. In addition, the recovery varies for every individual.

Here’s a brief overview of what each knee procedure looks like and how long normal recovery will take. There is no such thing as a “typical recovery timeline,” as everyone’s recovery is different. However, here’s generally when you can expect to resume normal, low-impact activities, such as walking.

Total knee replacement

Typical recovery timeline: 3-6 weeks

The Kennedy Center wants to help you get the most out of your knee replacement for years to come. Our doctors use titanium implants, which work well with all ages and fitness levels. Over 95% of the Kennedy Center’s knee replacements are still going strong after 16 years.

ACL reconstruction

Typical recovery timeline: 6-12 weeks  

One of the more complicated knee surgeries, ACL reconstruction is done by taking a tendon from a different part of your body to replace your torn ACL. Typically, the Kennedy Center uses what’s called “arthroscopic surgery” to help minimize trauma and speed up recovery time. To learn more about what “arthroscopic surgery” looks like, click here.

Knee resurfacing

Typical recovery timeline: 8-12 weeks

Knee resurfacing  repairs only the damaged area of your knee rather than replacing your entire knee. Because it’s done with a minimally invasive technique, the surgery is designed to keep as much of your original bone and cartilage as possible intact. It’s often used for younger, active people with early stage osteoarthritis. 

Oxford and Prelude partial knee replacement

Typical recovery timeline: 3-4 weeks

By replacing only one side of your knee joint, oxford and prelude partial knee replacement preserves the healthy bone, cartilage and ligaments. It’s appropriate for older people with only one area on their knee that’s arthritic. Younger people who are too young or too active for total knee replacement, but who have osteoarthritis or avascular necrosis, are often a candidate as well.

Patellofemoral resurfacing

Typical recovery timeline: 2-6 weeks

Less invasive than a total knee implant, a patellofemoral implant doesn’t interfere with the surrounding healthy knee structure. By replacing only the kneecap and trochlea (the groove at the end of the thigh bone), it can be a good option for young or active people with patellofemoral joint arthritis.

Meniscus repair and surgery

Typical recovery timeline: 4-6 weeks

There are typically two procedure options for a torn meniscus: resection or repair. Both options are done arthroscopically in an outpatient setting. During a resection, the surgeon simply removes any torn cartilage without interfering with the healthy meniscus. During a repair, the surgeon keeps the torn tissue but sews it together to allow it to heal.

Same day knee replacement

Typical recovery timeline: 4-6 weeks

With advancements in knee surgery, patients at the Kennedy Center are often able to go home the same day after a total knee replacement. To make it feasible to recover in the comfort of your home, the Kennedy Center surgeons use muscle sparing techniques and advanced pain modalities. Contact us today to find out if you’re a candidate for same day knee replacement.

How do I prepare for knee surgery?

An important part of recovering from knee surgery actually starts before you enter the operating room. Proper preparation beforehand can make life easier on you in the weeks following your knee procedure. Use these tips for a smoother recovery:

  • Find a friend or family member ahead of time to drive you to all your day of- and post-operation and physical therapy appointments. 
  • Choose a room in your home on the lower level to sleep in during recovery. Make sure you have access to a bathroom. If you need to, move your bed downstairs. 
  • Ask your nurses what exercises you should be doing prior to surgery to make recovery from knee surgery easier.
  • Find a friend or family member to stay with you 24/7 for at least the first week.

Click here for more info on how to best prepare for your knee procedure.

When can I return to activity after surgery?

While your level of activity depends on how severe your condition is and what procedure you require, your physical therapist will lay out exactly how active you should (and shouldn’t) be. However, most knee surgery patients are able to return to daily activities within 3-6 weeks after surgery. 

Choosing to have regular physical therapy appointments is an excellent way to regain your strength and flexibility as well as doing at-home exercises. The fastest, easiest and best way to recover from knee surgery is by sticking to your rehabilitation plan. Your physical therapist will help guide your return to activities.

When I can return to work?

If your work isn’t physically demanding and only requires you to be at your desk, you may be able to go back in 4-6 weeks. However, if your job requires physical labor, standing, walking or traveling, you may have to wait up to three months. Talk with your nurse and surgeon to determine when you can safely return to work.

How soon can I drive?

When you first get out of surgery, driving won’t be an option. You may need to wait several weeks before you can safely drive again. In addition, driving while on pain medication is highly discouraged as it can impair your thinking and reflexes. Even once you’re off of pain medicine, be sure to get approval from your doctor first so you don’t reinjure your knee.

Finally, if you have the procedure on your right knee, it may take longer than the standard 3-6 weeks before you can get back behind the wheel.

A fast recovery means taking it slow

Even though it can be tempting to return to your daily life as soon as your knee starts feeling better, you don’t want to unintentionally make your recovery longer by overdoing it. Following your surgeon’s and physical therapist’s instructions to the letter is important for safely recovering from knee surgery.

Let’s talk knee surgery options.

The Kennedy Center is here to help. If you have questions about your potential procedure and recovery, contact our team here.

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