Post Surgery

What to expect after knee replacement surgery

A video depicting what a post-operative knee replacement surgery patient can expect when they go home.
Post-Operative Care

It’s important to know what you can expect after your surgery is over and you head home. Your doctor will give you a care plan to follow. Make sure you understand everything you’re expected to do in order to help ensure your rehabilitation goes smoothly.

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You will work with your doctor to determine how soon you’ll be able to bend and move your knee. Typically, this will be the same day as your surgery.

During your hospital stay, you will begin rehabilitation(rehab) therapy. Rehabilitation starts within a few hours after surgery and continues for three months or longer. During this time, you will learn how to safely use your new knee joint and return to your normal activities.

The goals of rehab are to:
  • Improve your muscle strength
  • Increase the movement in your knee joint
  • Protect your new knee joint
  • Return to most of your normal activities

Leaving the hospital The doctor will help you decide the best place to continue recovering after you leave the hospital. This may be at home or in a rehabilitation center. A rehab center is similar to a hospital—patients stay there day and night, and are cared for by doctors, nurses, and therapists until they become well enough to go home. If your doctor wants you to go home, therapy will continue there as well.

Possible complications One of the potential complications following knee replacement surgery is infection. To help reduce future risk of infection, people with knee replacements are often told to take antibiotics when undergoing medical or dental procedures, including simple teeth cleanings. These routine precautions will be required for up to several years after the surgery to reduce the risk of infection.

Another potential complication, Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), occurs when blood in the large veins of the leg forms blood clots within the veins, which could potentially travel to the lungs and cut off the blood supply to a portion of the lung. This is called a pulmonary embolism. There are many ways to reduce the risk of DVT, but a good way is to get patients moving as soon as possible after surgery. 1


Arranging for Home Care after surgery


Pain management


Wound healing


The do’s and don’ts for recovering



The performance of knee replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell if knee replacement is right for you.

DSUS/JRC/0914/0475(1) 10/2016

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