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Advancements in surgical techniques have made knee replacements far less invasive than they were in the past. In fact, with outpatient knee replacements, you can even go home the same day as your surgery.

Not only do minimally invasive approaches mean less risk for complications, but they also offer faster recovery times. However, even though you’ll be back on your feet sooner, you’ll still have to use care to protect your new knee.

At Utah Orthopedics in Ogden, Utah, Thomas Calton, MD, uses minimally invasive techniques to perform knee replacements whenever possible. Here’s what you should expect when returning to activity after having a knee replacement.

Getting back on your feet

Believe it or not, you’ll be up and walking shortly after your surgery. But, you’ll need the help of crutches or a walker. These devices will prevent you from falling and damaging your new knee.

Over the first few days, you should expect to walk a little bit and even climb a few steps. It’s important to remain active during this time, but you shouldn’t push yourself too hard. To help support your recovery, you should do physical therapy exercises as prescribed.

Within a week, you should be able to walk for more than 10 minutes and bend your new knee 90 degrees. And, by Day 10, you should be able to fully straighten your knee. However, you may still need assistive devices, such as crutches, a walker, or a cane for a few more weeks.

Feeling “normal” again

People who have a knee replacement end up feeling far better than “normal.” For many people, this procedure gives them a pain-free lease on life.

When you reach the 4-6 week mark after your surgery, you should notice significant improvements, including more strength, more range of motion, and no swelling or inflammation. At this point, you’ll continue to increase your range of motion and knee strength.

Activities you’ll be able to resume at this point will include:

  • Cooking, cleaning, and other household tasks
  • Walking farther and relying on assistive devices less
  • Getting back to a desk job
  • Driving

At six weeks, you’ll also likely be able to travel again without the risk of getting blood clots.

Breaking a sweat

Within 7-12 weeks of your procedure, you should be ready to kick it up a notch with low-impact exercises, such as swimming, biking, golfing, and dancing. However, you should still avoid any activities that could damage your knee replacement, such as:

  • Aerobics
  • Running
  • High-intensity cycling
  • Basketball or football
  • Skiing or skating

In most cases, it can take up to three months before you can resume higher impact activities. To be safe, Dr. Calton will provide activity recommendations on a case-by-case basis, depending on your recovery and how you progress with your rehab. And, while you should be able to resume most activities after three months, it will likely take 6-12 months for your knee to heal completely.

Do you want to explore knee replacement surgery? To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Utah Orthopedics today.

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