Recovery After Knee Surgery

Knee surgery (replacement or other) is becoming more and more common as people are living longer than ever before. Many questions arise when trying to make the decision to have replacement surgery. Will my knee pain go away? When will I be able to return to the activities I used to enjoy? Will I lose or gain range of motion (ROM)? The answer to all of these questions is it depends!

Main factors that it depends on include:

  • How much did the arthritis change your knee joint capsule properties? A general thought is that if you waited longer before getting a replacement, you may have experienced a shortening of the joint capsule fibers called a joint contracture. This usually limits the amount of ROM that a patient will be able to regain. 
  • How weak were your leg muscles prior to surgery? Did your knee pain lead you to living a sedentary life? For how long? Research has shown that doing prehab (physiotherapy before surgery) leads to quicker recovery post surgery.  
  • Do you have a fear of reinjury or loss of confidence? Knee replacements are typically very stable, but getting over the fear of something going wrong can be difficult. Our physiotherapists can show you common compensation patterns and what to avoid to prevent injury to other areas.

Patients will also have to stay in the hospital for at least a few days after their surgery and the recovery can take up to six months. This can interfere with your regular day-to-day activities and delay your return to your normal routine. Most patients have concerns with this aspect of knee surgery as a long recovery time affects their lifestyle. As upsetting as this might be, it is very important that you listen to your doctor’s instructions carefully to have a healthy recovery.

You will be happy to know there are several things patients can do to help the healing process and return to your former lifestyle as soon as possible. The following post-knee surgery tips will allow you to get back to your daily activities faster:


Sleeping well is very important to help your body heal. Patients who sleep for the recommended hours will heal faster than those who don’t, as well as feel better emotionally. They will also have more energy, which will result in a positive attitude and this can speed-up the healing process. Recovering from knee surgery can be tiring, both physically and emotionally, so proper rest is important to ensuring successful results. If your pain prevents you from sleeping, let your doctors know so that they can help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Attend All Of Your Follow Up Knee Surgery Appointments

You will likely have several appointments you will have to keep up with after your surgery. It is extremely important that you keep these appointments. Your doctors can review your condition and ensure you’re healing as you should. You will probably have to see your family doctor, as well as your surgeon, so that they can both monitor your progress. Following their instructions closely and attending all appointments will get you back to your former lifestyle faster.

Start Physiotherapy ASAP after Clearance from your Surgeon. 

Your body quickly starts replacing damaged soft tissue from the surgical procedure with scar tissue. Scar tissue is associated with pain and stiffness so it should be worked on ASAP before its properties become more permanent with time. 

In addition, progress in the range of motion (ROM) of your knee is greatest in the first few months after surgery and then it levels off. Working on ROM at the earliest time available after surgery will improve your function and your quality of life. 

Lastly, muscle weakness in the early stages after surgery can lead to slow progress and is often due to loss of neuromuscular control (weak connection between the brain and the muscles of the leg). 

Physiotherapists are a big part of the recovery process. We will provide you with a program that you can do at home. We focus on performing treatment at the clinic that you will not be able to at home. Research continually shows that patients who do physiotherapy after knee replacement have better physical and emotional outcomes, leading to a higher quality of life than those who do not.

Motion Science Physiotherapy can help you recover fast. We will do a thorough assessment during your first visit and come up with a customized treatment plan to make sure you can return to YOUR LIFE. 

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