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Having a Knee Replacement

Getting around

This information will help you learn how to safely get around in a car when it’s safe to drive and travel.

Getting in and out of a vehicle

Your therapist will tell you how to get in and out of a vehicle, depending on the vehicle you’re travelling in. A higher vehicle may be easier to get in and out of (depending on your height). It also helps to:

  • Sit in the front seat if possible.
  • Have your driver park the car about 1 metre (3 feet) away from the curb.
  • Have the driver slide the passenger seat back as far as it will go.
  • Place a large plastic bag on the seat to make sliding into and out of the vehicle easier.
  • Put a pillow on the seat to make it higher if you need to.

To get in a car:

  1. Back up slowly and carefully with your crutches or walker until you can feel the edge of the car against the back of your legs.
  2. Hold the back of the seat and the car frame for support. Slide your operated leg forward slightly, bend both your knees, and lower yourself onto the seat. Be careful not to hit your head.
  3. Slide your buttocks toward the middle of the car. Pivot on your buttocks as you lift your legs one at a time into the car.

To get out of the car, reverse the steps by doing step 3, 2, then 1.

Credit: Images belong to the Bone and Joint Health ​Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services.

Driving

Your surgeon will tell you when it’s safe to start driving again. Most people can start to drive again 6 weeks after surgery.

To drive safely, your strength and reflexes need to be as good as before your knee surgery. If you’re in an accident, your insurance may not cover you if you’re not safe to drive.

Your healthcare team will give you information about transportation services in your area.

Travel

It’s best to wait 3 months after your surgery before you travel a long way by air or by car. This is because sitting for a long time (like when you travel) can put you at higher risk of blood clots.

When you travel by air, your new knee may set off the metal detectors at the airport. Before you go through the security check, tell the security agent you had a knee replacement and have metal parts in your knee.

Talk to your case manager about any travel you may need to do in the first 3 months after your knee surgery.

Going back to work

When you can go back to work after your surgery depends on:

  • how well and how quickly you heal
  • the kind of work you do

Your surgeon will tell you when you can go back to work.​​

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