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A knee replacement is a type of surgery that takes out the damaged knee joint and replaces it with parts made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. After surgery, you will use crutches or a walker. You will need someone to help you at home for a few days or weeks or until you have more energy and can move around better.
You may go home with a bandage and stitches, staples, skin glue, or tape strips. Your nurse will tell you how to care for your incision.
You may have some mild pain and swelling after surgery. Your doctor may give you medicine for the pain. Take your pain medicine regularly to feel comfortable. Expect to use less pain medicine every day. Stop your pain medicine as soon as you can meet your therapy goals without it. Learn more at Adult Pain: Treatment, Management, and Support.
You will keep doing the physiotherapy you started in the hospital. The better you do with your exercises, the sooner you will get your strength and movement back.
Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to work or other activities. This will depend on what type of work and activities you do.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
It’s important to do the following to help you recover and get home more quickly:
Let your healthcare team know if you have discomfort that lasts a long time after your surgery. They can offer ways to help you manage it.
You may notice a click in your operated knee or feel numb on the outside of your knee. Clicking and numbness are common for several months after surgery. They usually go away over time. Tell your healthcare team if the clicking hurts.
First 3 months after surgery
Good activities for the first 3 months after surgery are:
After 3 months
If you’re feeling ready 3 months after surgery, you might try some of the following activities you enjoy:
Activities to avoid
Talk to your surgeon about any sports or other activities that involve:
For more information on physiotherapy services in Alberta go to Physiotherapy Services.
Your surgeon will tell you when it’s safe to start driving again. Most people can start to drive again 6 weeks after surgery.
Many people have questions about having sex after a knee replacement. It’s usually safe to have sex about 4 to 6 weeks after your knee surgery. But you should wait until you feel ready and are comfortable. There are many other types of sexual activity that are safe for you and your partner to try. Let your partner take the more active role.
Dentist and other appointments
The next time you see a doctor or dentist, tell them that you had a knee replacement. You may need to take antibiotics before you have a medical or dental procedure.
Your nurse will talk to you about how to care for your incision at home:
Ice and elevation
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency department if you have:
Call your case manager if:
If you can’t reach your case manager or someone else on your healthcare team, call your family doctor or Health Link at 811.
Call your family doctor if:
Let your case manager know if you see your family doctor or go to the emergency department about anything related to your knee surgery.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=custom.ab_totalkneereplacement_ac.
Related to knee replacement
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: August 28, 2023
Author: Bone and Joint Health SCN, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.