What to Expect Following a Total Knee Replacement


Having a total knee replacement can feel intimidating, especially if you are not sure of what the recovery will be like. Here are some standard things you can expect following your surgery.

  • Swelling and soreness
    • Your doctor is in charge of any medications he/she prescribes for you in order to make you more comfortable throughout your recovery.
    • Swelling is a normal reaction following a knee replacement surgery. Your physical therapist can teach you ways to decrease your swelling and pain such as applying a cold pack and elevating your leg.
    • It is important you are able to recognize signs of infection. If your incision begins to look red, swollen, is warm to the touch, or has fluid drainage – you will need to seek advice from your physician as soon as possible.
  • Bending and straightening  your knee
    • Regaining your range of motion will be the most important part of your rehabilitation immediately following your surgery. Swelling and pain will likely be the largest limiting factors in you being able to bend or straighten your knee.
    • Many people do not have full range of motion even before their knee replacement surgery due to severe arthritis or other trauma. If this is the case, regaining your range of motion will take more work and more focus.
    •  A physical therapist will teach you the most effective ways to increase your range of motion safely and effectively.
  • Strengthening
    • Regaining strength for the muscles that surround the knee is important to a full recovery following your total knee replacement surgery.
    • Your physical therapist will put you on a strengthening program for your leg, hips, and core muscles that will help you get back to activities you enjoy. It is important to perform your prescribed exercises according to your therapists’ guidelines.

Before you know it, you will be back to enjoying the activities you like to do! Try to be patient and stay positive, a total knee replacement isn’t easy- it takes a lot of hard work and time to heal!

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