How soon can I walk after knee replacement surgery?

The speed at which you can return to normal activities following knee replacement surgery depends on a number of different factors, however, normal function will be faster if the surgical team and the hospital employs 'rapid recover' or 'enhanced recovery' standard operations as part of the overall procedure. Following surgery, normal function can be achieved within three hours of the operation and a same-day discharge is theoretically possible.

Normal function within three hours

Consultant orthopaedic knee surgeon, Mr Sam Rajaratnam says; "We use advanced anaesthetic techniques which allow the patient’s muscles to function normally within about three hours of the operation so that patients can stand up and walk using crutches in a relatively pain free manner. Generally patients are able to go up and down stairs the day after surgery and most patients stay in hospital for two or three days, (although a same day discharge is also theoretically possible).

In an article for patients - What is the secret to getting excellent results in knee replacement surgery?

However, Mr Rajaratnam explains that in his professional view, that although rapid recovery is exceedingly important and something for which is known for, a full "permanent recovery" is even more important. He says, "We therefore have developed careful postoperative physiotherapy regimes, which involve getting patients walking soon after surgery, driving within two to four weeks of their joint replacement and getting back to work as soon as possible".

Cryotherapy can speed recovery times

Mr Rajaratnam also describes how his team uses cryotherapy to speed recovery recovery, combined with short-, medium- and long-acting pain relief medication. This approach enables patients to manage their discomfort during the post operative period.

Most patients will go up and down stairs on day two and many will be driving between week two and week four following knee replacement surgery. 

Post discharge rehabilitation physiotherapy is critical for rapid recovery. Each patient needs to be carefully matched with an appropriate therapist in order to achieve optimal results.

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