The following are some ways to incorporate movement after you have had knee
replacement surgery. Discuss these techniques with your physicians and
orthopedist before attempting them. Your therapist may modify some these
techniques depending upon your situation (i.e., age, weight, and procedure).
Only do the techniques that are recommended by your physician and/or
To help promote flexibility in your knee while lying down, place a rolled-up
bath towel under your ankle. As your knee straightens, you may feel a gentle
stretch in your thigh area.
For the first few times, your physician or therapist may move and hold your
leg. Soon you will sit at the edge of the bed with your foot resting on a
small stool without assistance. You may be asked to stretch your operated
leg and rest it on a chair.
Standing With Support
For a while your physician or therapist may help you stand. A safety belt
may be placed around your waist to support you just in case you feel dizzy.
A splint may also be placed around your operated leg to keep it from moving
and protect your knee as you stand.
Using a Walker
Once you can stand, you will probably use a walker to help you keep your
balance. Initially you will be told to place only a small amount of weight
on your operated leg as you walk. As your knee becomes stronger, your doctor
will tell you when you can increase the amount of weight placed on your
Step 1 With both hands lift and scoot the walker and place it a few
inches in front of you. Be certain all four legs of the walker are down
Step 2 Lean on the walker and let it help support your weight. Step
forward and through the walker with your operated leg. Be careful not to
wrap your leg around the legs of the walker.
Step 3 Hold on to the walker firmly with both hands, then step
forward placing your unoperated leg though the walker.
Walking with Crutches
Once your knee and leg muscles are strong enough, your physician or physical
therapist may recommend crutches instead of using a walker. Your therapist
will give you guidelines on how far and how long you may walk.
Step 1 With the crutches firmly in place, place pressure on your
hands, not on your armpits.
Step 2 Move the operated leg and both crutches forward at the same
Step 3 Looking up and straight ahead, first step through the
crutches with the operated leg followed by your unoperated leg.
Walking Up Stairs with Crutches
With your crutches upright on the floor and firmly planted for support, lift
your unoperated leg and place it on the step. Leaning forward on the
crutches, lift yourself up. Use the crutches and your unoperated leg to
support your weight. Now lift your operated leg up onto the step. You may
want to have someone help you the first few times until you become
comfortable with stairs.
Walking Down Stairs with Crutches
Place your crutches and your operated leg on the lower step. Use the
crutches for balance and lower yourself carefully down onto the step moving
the crutches as you move the operated leg. Again, you may wish to have
someone assist you the first few times you try this.
Once You Are at Home
It is very important that you follow your surgeon's instructions. The
following suggestions should be discussed with your surgeon before your
If you will be using a walker or crutches to assist with walking, ask your
doctor how much weight you may put on your operated leg.
Remember that you will probably tire more easily than usual. You may want
to plan a rest period of 30 to 60 minutes mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
It is safer and easier to get in and out of chairs using both arms and you
should avoid low or overstuffed furniture. To increase your comfort, use a
cushion or pillow to raise your body while seated.
An elevated toilet seat may reduce stress to your hips and knees as you
sit and stand.
A shelf placed in the shower at chest height may reduce having to bend to
retrieve items while in the shower.
A bathtub seat (bench) allows you to sit while bathing for increased
safety and comfort.
A long-handled bath sponge may be used to reach lower legs. Women can also
purchase razor extenders to shave their legs.
Avoid sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner. Use long-handled
feather dusters for dusting high and low items. Your doctor will tell you
when it is okay to sweep, mop, and vacuum.
You may ride in a car, but you must follow your doctor's instructions for
how to get in and out of the vehicle. You can raise the height of the car
seat with pillows to protect your hips and knees as well. Your doctor will
talk with you about when you can drive, typically within four to six weeks
after surgery. If you have a car with manual transmission, talk with your
doctor about driving limitations. Make sure you can brake the car without
discomfort before you attempt to drive in traffic.
Constipation is a common problem for patients following surgery. This is
usually due to your limited activity and any pain medications you may be
taking. Discuss your diet with your doctor. It should include fresh fruits
and vegetables as well as eight full glasses of liquid each day, unless
your doctor tells you otherwise.
Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for pain pills. Please
follow your doctor's instructions concerning these medications.
Some swelling around the incision is normal. You will find it more
comfortable to wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the incision. Ask
your doctor or other qualified health professional about appropriate wound