Total knee replacement recovery takes time as it involves weight-bearing joints.  If you’ve just had this surgery or are due to have it, take a look below at the information on what to expect during your recovery.

Knee replacement surgery, known as arthroplasty, is one of the most common surgical procedures. More than 600,000 knee replacement operations are performed each year in the United States.

The operation involves replacing the surfaces of the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) that connects to the knee. The damaged part of the knee is removed and replaced with an artificial joint made of metal or plastic. This is attached to the thigh bone, shin, and kneecap using a special material. The aim is to remove pain and restore function and mobility.

Total Knee Replacement Recovery

Here are some facts about recovery following Total Knee Replacement:


Short-term Recovery

Short-term recovery involves the early stages of recovery. The average short-term recovery time for a total knee replacement is approximately 12 weeks. However, recovery times can vary as each person’s body is unique. Your 1st post-op visit is 4-6 weeks after your operation.


  • Within 24 hours of your surgery, you’ll be able to get out of bed and fully weight bear on your new knee. You are given a walking frame, crutches or sticks to support you while walking. Some physicians recommend using a cane for extra support for the first 6 weeks.
  • A physiotherapist will start exercises with you which marks the start of your rehab program. You must continue the exercises as instructed and follow the advice given about looking after your knee when you return home. Doing the exercises is very important as it builds up strength and flexibility around your knee.
  • People are usually discharged 3-5 days after surgery if there are no problems or complications.
  • Swelling and bruising around your knee is normal and will disappear with time. You can help reduce it by regularly applying ice.
  • At first, you’ll feel extremely tired. This is normal as you’ve had a major operation.
  • You must keep the wound clean and dry until the stitches are removed, usually 7-10 days.
  • For 6-8 weeks after surgery, avoid pivoting (twisting) on your knee, kneeling, or squatting.
  • After about a month, you should notice a dramatic improvement in your knee.


Signs of short-term recovery include:

  • Being able to come off the prescribed pain killers and use only over-the-counter pain relief.
  • No longer needing walking aids.
  • Being able to get a full night’s sleep without pills.
  • Being able to walk around the house without pain.
  • Being able to walk two blocks without pain or having to stop and rest.


Call your doctor if you have any worries or concerns.


Long-term Recovery

On average, long-term recovery for total knee replacement is between 3 and 6 months.

Signs of full recovery include:


  • Being able to return to work and the activities of daily living.
  • Feeling 100% normal again.
  • The complete healing of your surgical wounds and internal soft tissues.
  • Being able to come off all pain medication. You can drive again once you stop taking the pain-killers.
  • Some activities are not advised following a total knee replacement such as jogging, basketball, football, squash, badminton, jumping activities, and skiing. These activities put a lot of stress on the new knee joint. If you are unsure, talk to your doctor.


Following total knee replacement surgery, recovery time can vary and is impacted by how well you comply with the recommended exercise program. Being aware of the facts relating to total knee replacement recovery time can help you understand the process and take better care of yourself.

Discuss with your doctor if you should wear a knee brace or not.