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5 tips for a successful knee replacement

Man crossing his arms, smiling and standing in front of flower beds.

Total knee replacement doesn't have to be a total pain. These steps can make your recovery go smoother and get you back to your life sooner.

The skill and expertise of your surgery team will play a big part in the success of your knee replacement. But you have an important role to play as well.

Following your healthcare team's instructions can help ensure you have an easier recovery. These five tips can also help:

1. Get as healthy as possible before surgery. Your health before joint replacement can influence your recovery after surgery. Whether you need to manage a chronic disease like diabetes, lose weight or quit smoking, work with your doctor to get a handle on your health.

2. Take enough time to recover. Healing after any surgery takes time, and knee surgery is no exception. When you can return to your normal activities depends on your general health and the demands of those activities. For example, if you have a sedentary job, you may be able to return to work in four to six weeks, according to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS). But if your daily tasks are physically demanding, you may need up to three months to recover fully.

Ask your surgeon for specific guidelines, but go into the procedure knowing you need to give yourself adequate time to heal.

3. Commit to physical therapy. Most people who have knee replacement need outpatient physical therapy after surgery, according to the AAHKS. A skilled therapist can help you prepare for and recover from surgery. Your therapist will do things like show you how to walk with a walker or crutches, and they will create a program of exercises to help you reach your personal goals and get back to your daily activities.

How much therapy you need depends on your condition before surgery and your motivation, according to the AAHKS.

4. Use your support system. Recovery after knee replacement is a team effort. Let friends and loved ones know that you will need their help after surgery. Most people can't drive for four to six weeks after a knee replacement, according to the AAHKS, so you'll need help getting to appointments and managing any errands. Let friends and family provide meals, do laundry, and help keep your household running while you recuperate.

5. Do little things to keep your spirits up. After surgery, you may have moments where you feel discouraged or frustrated. These feelings are normal—and they'll pass. One way to work through them is to do small things to improve your mood every day. Instead of hanging out in your pajamas, get dressed. Reach out to friends you've been meaning to contact. Watch a funny movie. A positive outlook can help speed your recovery.

Get ready for surgery

These tips for the weeks leading up to surgery can help you prepare for a successful procedure.

Reviewed 10/23/2023

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