Enquiries: 01305 251150

Updated 2 August 2023

It is important that you get up and on your feet as much as you can after your surgery and complete the exercises you have been given as this will help aid your recovery and reduce the chance of complications. 

If you have had a knee replacement you should pace your activity and steadily increase your walking distance as you recover. 

If you have any questions or concerns once you have been discharged home, you can contact the Occupational Therapy Department on 01305 255241.

Activity after knee surgery

After your operation, you will be encouraged to get up and walk. It is important to walk on a regular basis and to steadily increase the distance as you recover. It is normal to be allowed to put full weight through your operated leg.

As soon as possible try and walk placing one foot past the other in a normal walking pattern. You can progress to using one crutch or a stick held on the opposite side to your operated leg as soon as you feel safe and comfortable to do so. If you are uncomfortable or if you limp when walking, continue to use your walking aids. You are likely to need to use elbow crutches outdoors for about four weeks.

Completing the below exercises will help aid your recovery, improve movement in the knee joint and develop the strength of the muscles around it. These exercises should be completed three to four times a day, repeating each exercise up to ten times.

Initially the exercises may feel difficult due to pain and weakness, so it is important that you take pain medication regularly. It is normal to feel a stretch around the operation site when exercising. 

In lying or sitting position, bend and straighten your ankles briskly.

Repeat 10 times regularly during the day. This reduces swelling and the risk of blood clots.

Lying on your back with legs straight and toes pointing to ceiling.

Bend your ankles and push your knees down firmly against the bed. Hold for five seconds and relax Repeat 10 times.

Lying on your back with legs straight. Lift your leg 15cm (6inches) off the bed keeping your knee straight Hold for three seconds and slowly lower your leg. As you get stronger, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Sitting or lying with your leg out in front of you, put your heel on a block / rolled up towel so there is no support beneath your knee. Let the knee stretch in this position. Start with a short time building up to five minutes. 

Lie on the bed with the knee resting on a rolled towel or sit in the chair.

Straighten the knee from the bent position. Repeat 10 times.

Sit or lie with your legs straight.

Slide your heel up towards your bottom allowing your knee to bend. Repeat 10 times.

It is advised that you continue these exercises daily for at least three months after your surgery to build up muscle strength around the knee.

Rest is as important as your exercises in healing and managing pain and swelling. Alongside your exercises, ensure you have a period of rest daily. This should be a period of approximately 30 minutes lying down, at least for the first three-four weeks after your operation. Elevate your leg (ensure you keep the knee straight) to help reduce swelling. Do not sleep or rest with a pillow underneath you knee.

You should be able to return to driving when you are able to walk a good distance and complete an emergency stop. This should be within two to three weeks of the surgery. If you need to go on a long journey, plan in regular stops to rest and stretch.

Returning to 'normal'
Most people are ready to return to work at six-eight weeks after their operation. You can resume most physical activities as soon as you feel comfortable and confident. You can swim once your wound has healed, starting straight leg kicking and avoid breaststroke initially. Exercise bikes and treadmills can be used once knee movement allows, returning to outside cycling once comfortable.

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