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7 Ways to Speed Up Your Knee Replacement Recuperation

Having a total knee replacement surgery is only part of the process. How you deal with the recuperation to actually use your new knee is another part. It, actually, is the hardest part. Only you can determine the extent of your success.

Here are some ways I have noticed an improvement in my total knee replacement recuperation. My knee is getting better every day because of them. They may work for you. Here goes…

  • Every hour on the hour, get up and walk around. Your level of recuperation (and physical therapist) will determine whether you use a walking aide.

  • Do as much as you can for yourself. Do not rely on others when you can easily do it yourself. You will only be hurting yourself.

  • Know that it will be painful. You cannot get around having pain after a major surgery. Bummer.

  • Take a pain med prior to your exercise. I find that ½ hour beforehand works best for me. This will help your exercise regimen. Of course, your pain meds will decrease as time goes on and your level of recuperation increases.  The sooner the better, I say.

  • Set a goal for your knee flexibility. Find a ‘hash mark’ on the floor that you want to stretch your foot to. Lift your leg farther than an earlier attempt.  Your physical therapist can help with this.

  • Keep icing. After every exercise bout, I use a variety of icing methods. The best is a simple ice pack. Or, frozen peas & carrots work well. 🙂

  • Elevate. Keep your leg elevated when not exercising. This helps the healing.

Recuperating from a total knee replacement takes work. There were many times when, if looks could kill, my physical therapist wouldn’t be here. Lol

Good luck!


26 Responses

  1. I have been reading a lot on fall prevention, simply because my father has been taking a lot of tumbles here lately. We have gone through our home and “dad proofed” every room in the house, moving furniture, changing flooring, and even as far as putting up baby gates across certain rooms. But I have found that I can not fully prevent him from every fall that is why I purchased ResponseLINK Emergency Medical Alert. He wears a pendant now sometimes as a necklace, and sometimes as a bracelet, so that if he encounters a fall. He just has to push the button on the pendant and the central station is alerted, they then alert us and medical services if warranted. One time he pushed the button by accident, and the operator responded in just a matter of seconds! She then called me to let me know that it was a false alarm, but just the added security of knowing he has someone when he needs it has really taken a strain off of my mind!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Barbara. Your father is lucky to have you helping him out. I have heard about LINK med alert helping many people.
    Best of luck to both you and your dad. 🙂

  3. I have to agree with all of your suggestions for a faster recovery. I am in no pain or next to no pain except when my therapist is working on my degree of flexibility. Anyone that goes for total knee replacement should go into with the attitude that it will usually be a great improvement over what they had before. I was in constant pain and now I am not. I went into this double knee replacement with the attitude that anything had to be better than constant pain and I am determined to make it work. You need to enter this with a determined attitude and do everything your theraphist tells you to do plus more. And definitely do the ice after workouts.

  4. Hello Everyone ,
    I am so grateful thati stumbled across this website. I had a full knee replacement on the 3rd of November , 2008. I am still doing the walking thing every day and after four weeks i could drive my car. I also do T.E.N.S. (avoiding the operated spot and device positioning of course on the knee. I did very well , well every one said so but needed alot of painkillers. When I phoned for a script again , the sister at the doc’s office said i should be pain free by now!!! that was two months away from the surgery! I am so glad that I stumbled upon this site especially now I feel my knee but nnot only that I feel the device as well!! . It feels like a chain around my knee and also like a blade sometimes. I have also not reached my 90 degrees . But only sixty . While doing my high knee marches , last week , i felt something stripped and immediately i could not find 15 degrees !. That is when I felt the “blade ” across the patella ( or where it should be ) … I am so disappointed with myself as I was doing so well … I had x-rays taken but according to the doctor there is nothing wrong. The device had shifted but not much ! I sit here in awful agony afraid that the device had stripped or moved ! If there is anyone with with a similar experience ..please write me …

  5. Hi Sandy,
    That’s some story you have there. Wow. My bionic knee has not shifted, but I know that the recuperation process goes up and down. And, I had a difficult time getting med refills, too.

    I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment. We’ve all been there since this tkr stuff takes so long. Good luck…

  6. I TKRk is fifteen months and I still get sore. But I remember at about five or six months I got sore along the outside of the knee which had been basically numb. I realized later that it was coming back to life thus that is why I could feel the pain. This passed. I have heard of others that have had this happen also.

  7. my female cousin 72 yrs of age had total knee replacement surgery on Nov 20 2008, she had to have a manipulation in Feb. because she was not walking well and could not get past 80 degrees. she uses the CPM machine goes to therapy 3 times a week and is in constant pain. she still feels unsteady at times. she told me that at times when going off the CPM machine she feels her leg trembling for hours. she still uses a cane and sometimes the walker. this surgery did not work out well for her. the dr. also removed a valgus on the side of her knee i wonder if that has anything to do with her problems. she went to a top notch surgeon in nyc. she told me she feels she will never walk without assisitance or be painfree again. please send me some insight. thank you.

  8. Hi Cookie,
    I would say it’s only natural to feel the way your cousin does after only 3-4 months post tkr. It’s a long way through recuperation.
    Have your cousin read through this site and she’ll find lots of good info and support.
    Good luck!

  9. I had a full knee replacement on March 23. According to the doctor and therapist, I am making good progress. I feel like I’m at a plateau though. I take 2-3 pain pills a day and do therapy at home on my own on the cays I don’t go for therapy. I had a CPM machine for the first 3 weeks following surgery and was able to get it to 120*. I try not to get discouraged that my progress isn’t as good as in the beginning now. Slower now. How long does it take? I know everyone is different but any idea? Is there some suggestions?

  10. I am 50 and I am just about 4 weeks out from a TKR. It has gone well so far. Just as I had heard, the PT is hard work. I have had trouble with dizziness and queasiness so I quit the presciption pain meds pretty early. I am taking extra strength tylenol as needed…and mainly 30 min. before I go to PT. I am doing PT 3 times a week. I finally reached 97 degrees today…with some pain. I work at a school and have to return to work on July 31….so all you experts, how am I going to do when I return to school. Will I be able to walk okay? I sure hope so.
    I was hoping I could get in a pool and exercise this knee in some water…..but the doc. hasn’t released me to get in water yet. The steri strips are still holding on…maybe next week.
    Thanks for this web site…it is helpful and encouraging!

  11. hey carol,
    i am almost 50 and am just about 4 weeks post a tkr revision of a tkr that i had 7/24/08. i am here to say that the revisions are no different than the replacement. i have pt 2 times a week, and just got to 102 degrees. still walking with a cane to keep me walking with a normal gait, and because my surgeons last words in the hospital were, DON’T FALL. the steri strips just came off and the cocoa butter is on all the time. the massage feels great too. keep the blood flowing. go to the doctor next week and hope i can go into my pool too. walking is not painful but you do too much and the swelling goes up in a hurry. hopeful you will have the opportunity to put your leg up periodically and you should be fine. sounds like you are doing pretty well so far so keep up the good work and you will be fine. if your not ready, your knee will tell you. its nice to hear from young ones like us who had a tkr. take care and keep in touch here it is a great site.

  12. Thanks Sharon….why did you have to have a revision? I haven’t heard of having that.
    The only thing I am struggling with now is that I feel like I get good movement and range, and have good degree at Pt….then today I feel like it’s real stiff again and hard to bend. I am doing my therapy at home two times a day and icing it….any other suggestions?
    Thanks…this is a great site!

  13. i had a patellar clunk with racheting at 30 degrees. so with every step i took. the knee was unstable, would give out on me in a bend. so he had to put in a larger bearing and a new knee cap, because of the racheting it ripped up the knee cap. and to get it stronger and stable put in a larger kneecap. and cleaned up scar tissue and removed a ball of scar tissue from my saphenous nerve, again. had a bone scan which show some tibial loosening, but the larger bearing should help that. i may loose some rom because of the larger bearing but so far i haven’t noticed a problem. i get real stiff too, but that is really normal at this stage and will last for almost all of the rehab and maybe always. you have to keep is stretched all the time. i know by the 11 months that was getting alot better but then i had the revision so back to square one. oh well i at least know that the good part will come back again with alot of hard work, but it will be worth it and it will for you to. keep on excercising and icing and your day will come. why did you need a tkr so young? and what area are you from?

  14. I am from Georgia.My first knee surgery was in 1975 ….tore the menuscus in a bicycle accident in high school. I have had problems with this knee since then. I put off the knee replacement as long as I could and got the new knee for my 50th birthday! I am finding (at 4 weeks out) that the pain isn’t really much more than I have dealt with for over 30 years…..and now I do know it will get better!

  15. hey carol,
    i was just telling my husband tonite at dinner that we should move to georgia. i love paula deen. haha. anyway, it sounds like you suffered long enough. your attitude is great and will really help your recovery. my pain is the same also as it was and will get better with time to. take care. keep us posted.

    • Sharon…where are you from? North Ga is a great place to live!

      • hey carol
        sounds like your are doing well at 105 degrees, that’s great. had my first check up this week and he said i should go to pt 2 x week for 2-4 wks. can go in my pool now too. went in today and worked out and think i overdid it because i am feeling it tonite. so i guess we keep on going and hope for the best, right? i am from the northeast in pa. take care

  16. This is such a helpful site !! Jan 2009 I had orthoscopic (spelling) surgery for a torn menuscus in right knee..felt good for 5 weeks, then worse than before surgery….Talked my ortho doctor into a TKR June 30, 2009 and have be staying in a “re hab” for 3 weeks….My ROM got up to 82% & now back down to 70% due to SEVERE PAIN in my knee…On VERY STRONG pain pills & nothing seems to work…I walk…do my OT & PT…exercises in the bed…stopped the CPM machine in bed as PT says it desn’t do much after 3 weeks after surgery…I got that up to 80%…I feel like I am going backwards in my progress….Went back to Ortho Doc & says I need a MANIPULATION out patient surgery next Wednesday as I have SCAR TISSUE….I WANT TO BE HOPEFUL THAT THIS WILL WORK….i must get back to work & need to walk my golden retriever 3-4 times a day…I live upstairs & have to climb 22 stairs to get inside my apartment….I’m hoping my insurance will cover me to come back here & stay in re hab for another 2 weeks after this next surgery….Have any of you had this MANIPULATION SURGERY & did it help in your recovery?

    Thanks….a nervous patient

  17. Kris, I am sorry you are having such a hard time. My cousin, in Chicago, also stayed in a rehab center. They don’t even offer that here. i hope you will have success with the manipulation and rehab.
    I am 5 1/2 weeks out from my surgery and all is going okay. I just hit 105 last week at Pt. I do exercises t-3 times a day at home and ice my knee 2-3 times a day. That must be helping. I try to walk…..very slowly, at least once a day…..down the street some. I am trying to build up my stamina as I am supposed to return to work in a week. I walk alot at work…in a school.
    My main problem has been that I just don’t feel good yet in my head—-I still have times when I feel dizzy and sometimes nauseous. I haven’t had pain meds in three weeks, except x-strength tylenol….so I am not sure what’s up with my head.
    I hope you do very well with this new surgery!

    • Carol July 30th…
      I had my 15 min manipulation this morning..Dr said he saw alot of scar tissue & it worked on & moved it all the places…This is LAST HOPE !!! tHE pain is almost a ”7′
      daily…I do my PT EVERYDAY…WALK ALOT…GO UP & DOWN STAIRS…HE KEPT TALKING THAT MY KNEE EXTENSION AS DOING It totally & didn’t bend enough..feels like i am starting over…My surgeon is always s busy, he never explans anything for me to practice…Still in re ab for 3 days scared to go home…Couldn’t even get out of bed to go bathroom & used potty chair…How long does this recovery take to get moving & walking…I hate this trapped feeling in re hab, but so scared to go home & fall….Any suggesstions ?

  18. Kris,
    Your comment reminds me of how difficult it was for the first month after my tkr. I’ve never had a manipulation, but sure do feel for you.
    Hang in there. Keep in touch and good luck!

  19. Yes, Kris…hang in there. At least you can get on your computer and vent. That is a good thing. I hope today is better for you. Talk to your Physical therapist…maybe he/she could help give you some hope. Just take it one day at at time.


    • Hi Nancy,
      We all know where you’re coming from. The pain can be so unbearable, I never found any prescription “pain meds” worked for me. What gave me the greatest relief was ICE.
      I know we’ve all said this, but it does get better.
      My suggestions…ICE, ICE, ICE….it’s a GREAT natural pain med.
      Keep in touch and good luck!

  21. I had a total knee replacement March 28, 2009. My doctor says he had to do a lot of work as my knee cap had shifted over and bone and muscles need to be lengthened. There was tremendous pain at first but I did all my therapy, used the motion machine faithfully for 5-7 hours a day for 3 weeks and did my rehab exercises on my own. My knee can flex almost 116* While still in pain but not using any medications, I am back to doing everything I did prior including my 4 hours of dance classes. When I asked my doctor at my 6 month check-up when would the pain completely leave, he said in my case 18-24 months. I look forward to some day not having the pain that I still have. It’s pretty intense at times but I haven’t taken any pills after 3 months from surgery. Hang in there!

  22. I am 81 years old had double knee replacement 10- 19-10. After 4 weeks I was walking unassisted. driving at 5 weeks, which therapist quit coming at this time. My doctor is amazed. my question is , it has now been 7 weeks and my knees are still real stiff. will this ever go away? sometime it isn’t very bad and other days it is bad. Ihave appreciated all the comments and they have helped me. I am still doing exercises on my own.

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