Recovery Timeline

Knee replacement weekly recovery timeline

It can be comforting to know what you can expect after surgery so you can be prepared. That’s why we’ve outlined a sample weekly calendar. It identifies key milestones for the first 12 weeks after your surgery.

Day one

Within 24 hours of your surgery, you will begin walking with the aid of a walker or crutches. Your physical therapist will teach you the safest methods for moving around and help develop an exercise plan that prepares you for going home.

Daily activities may include:
  • Sitting on the side of the bed
  • Walking a few steps with a cane, crutches or walker
  • Sitting in a chair
  • Transferring yourself to a bedside commode

Immediately after your surgery, it is normal to feel some pain and discomfort. However, the pain will probably go away quickly, and you'll be surprised how soon you’ll be up and moving again.


Day two

You will gradually increase your exercises and activities from day one.

Daily activities may include:
  • Walking across the room with a cane, crutches or walker
  • Getting on and off the toilet
  • Climbing up and down 2 to 3 steps

Day three to discharge

Each day, you’ll increase your exercises and activities. At discharge, you may be able to:
  • Bend the knee to a 90-degree angle, or show improvement in bending the knee
  • Straighten the knee
  • Walk with little effort with a cane, crutches or walker
  • Move to a chair or toilet without help
  • Bathe and dress yourself
  • Climb several steps

Keep in mind: It is normal to have a low-grade fever for a few days after surgery. The fevers will usually go away before or just after you leave the hospital. Most patients will leave the hospital after a three-to-four-day stay.


Six weeks

At this point, you may no longer need a walker or crutches. If you are consistent with your physical therapy, you should be able to resume activities such as returning to work, driving, shopping, housekeeping and intimate relations (when you feel comfortable).

Keep in mind:Physical therapy will be challenging after knee surgery. It is very important to take your therapy seriously because the more diligent you are, the sooner you will return to your daily activities. If discomfort during your therapy session is a problem, talk to your therapist about coordinating pain medication and therapy.


12 weeks

You can enjoy a variety of low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, golfing, bicycling and ballroom dancing (check with your doctor or physical therapist). Avoid high-impact sports such as running, aerobics and contact sports, as they can cause damage to the artificial joint.


Keep in mind: Most people who undergo knee replacement surgery enjoy life with less joint pain. However, it's important to avoid high-impact activities that may damage your new joint.


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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