So…you’ve just had total knee replacement surgery. Great! Now you’re probably wondering, “When can I start walking again?” And that is totally normal. Who wouldn’t want to get back on their feet and get back to doing the things they enjoy?
Exercise is critical to ensuring a full recovery (which can take 6 months to a year), as exercise can help strengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion so that you can get back to doing the things you enjoy sooner.1-3 In addition, walking is recommended to help you get back your independence.3
How soon can I walk after total knee replacement surgery?
Your certified orthopedic surgeon will talk to you about when you can get back on your feet and how much weight your knee can bear; however, many patients start walking short distances in their hospital room soon after surgery with help from a physical therapist (PT) and an assisted device such as a cane, walker, or crutches.1 Below is a common time frame in regards to walking again, but keep in mind that each patient’s recovery occurs at a different pace.
Your PT will provide you with daily exercises to help improve your strength and mobility.2 But it’s important that you don’t push yourself too hard–too much strain on your knee can lead to pain and swelling.3 Contact your healthcare team if you experience swelling, severe pain while exercising, or soreness after exercising that does not go away.2
By this time, you may be able to walk or stand for at least 10 minutes with a cane or maybe even using nothing at all.2 But don’t stop exercising—keep working on improving your mobility and range of motion and be sure to alternate between sitting and walking during the day to help prevent your knee from getting too stiff.2
You will probably notice a big improvement in your strength and range of motion by weeks 4-6 and may now be able to go on longer walks.2,3 You may even be able to ditch the cane or assistive device.2,3
Keep up those exercises to improve your strength and range of motion!2 Your PT may alter your exercises depending on how well your knee is improving.2 At this point of recovery, you shouldn’t have as much stiffness or pain, and your doctor may give you the okay to participate in more physical activities, including swimming, dancing, yoga, and golf.2,3 You may even begin to walk several blocks at a time.3
Week 12 and onward
Week 12 usually brings even less pain and even more independence. But keep doing those exercises, including walking. Your knee will keep improving and your pain will further decrease as time goes on.2,3
Let Great Lakes Orthopaedics help you get back on your feet!
Our team of surgeons are among some of the most skilled physicians who perform total knee replacement surgery. If you are considering total knee replacement surgery or you have questions about your knees and joints, give us a call today!
References: 1. Total Knee Replacement Exercise Guide. OrthoInfo – American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Last reviewed February 2022. Accessed May 4, 2023. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/total-knee-replacement-exercise-guide/. 2. Greengard S and Carey E. Total Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery Timeline. Healthline. Updated April 21, 2023. Accessed May 4, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/rehabilitation-timeline#week-12. 3. How Long Can I Walk Unassisted After Total Knee Replacement?. Thomas & Bigler Knee and Shoulder Institute. Accessed May 4, 2023. https://www.knees-shoulders.com/how-long-can-i-walk-unassisted-after-total-knee-replacement/.
DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this blog made available by Great Lakes Orthopaedics is for general and informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Patients should consult with a medical professional for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.