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How long does it take to recover?

With reference to a Total Knee Replacement (TKR), most of the recovery takes place in the first 3 to 4 months. This means that at the end of this time, the patient will be expected to walk and climb stairs, fairly comfortably without much strain. However, some post-operative aches and strains may take another few months to recover. Read on to find out more.

The Recovery Process in the first 3 months after operation


A general guide to recovery is as follows:

First 2-4 days: Inpatient stay in hospital with Physiotherapy

First 1 to 2 weeks: Using a Walking Frame to walk

Next 3 to 4 weeks: Using a Walking Stick for support

By 5 to 6 weeks after operation: Patient should be walking by himself/herself
By 6 weeks after operation: Patient should be able to manage on stairs 

Some factors that affect the above timeline:
Severity of patient condition, patient's pre-operative thigh muscle strength, post-operative level of pain, patient motivation for post-operative therapy exercises

Why does it take a few months to recover?


A TKR is very effective at treating pain from knee arthritis. The surgery removes the damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with metal and plastic implants. Typically soon after a surgery, the patient will not feel the previous pain anymore, but will feel the post-operative pain. 

The leg muscles take a few months to get used to the new implants. In this time, it is common to feel muscle aches and strains, or tightness around the knee, especially after therapy or more walking. Pre-operative strengthening exercises ("Pre-hab") is an important way to keep the muscles strong and adaptable and help shorten the post-operative recovery period. Different persons also take different lengths of time to get fully used to the implants.

How do I speed up my recovery?


Studies have shown that simply being more educated about the post-operative period and having the right expectations will already help a patient recover better. Having the right expectations and understanding of the post-operative period is vital in allowing the body to get used to the implants. Excessive caution or excessive stress on the knee may adversely affect the recovery. Also, Pre-habilitation (doing strengthening exercises before operation) is important in improving a patient's recovery.  

As part of Centurion Orthopaedic Centre's expertise in knee replacements, we place a strong focus on pre-operative education and pre-habilitation and this allows our patients to enhance their recoveries. Also, our effective pain management techniques quickly allow the patient to walk and move the knee within the first day of surgery and this helps improve the patient's confidence in the upcoming recovery.

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