Total Knee Replacement Recovery Process

When you have the knee replacement, the surgery is done and now the recovery begins. This is a crucial time to restore the mobility and strength in order to get to enjoying life. We have laid out the process after the surgery and some expectations (and milestones) to help guide you through the process.

The Beginning:

The process starts after a few hours after the surgery. Yes… a few hours. It’s super important to get the knee moving after surgery to help with circulation and function. A physical therapist will help in getting you moving from the bed and make sure you can get in and out of bed safely and start putting weight on the new knee. They will give you all the assistance you need to be safe as this will be the first-time putting weight on the leg. You will be given a set of exercises to help with not only getting the knee moving but start engaging the knee muscles but also exercises to help with preventing blood clots (which is very important to know, and you will be educated on this before the surgery and after). The nurses will assist in changing out any bandages when needed.

Your physical therapist will be able to answer any questions you may have. And we encourage you to ask any questions you may have to help better understand the initial recovery symptoms and for reassurance.

Your stay will be dependent on a few different factors. It can be a very short stint such as less than 1 day and can be upwards to a few days. The most important factors are the healing of the knee and the ability to walk safely. Therefore, it will be crucial to get moving even if it seems very difficult and you don’t feel like it. Use it as motivation to get back to your home.


Here are milestones to reach prior to leaving the hospital:

  • Bend your knee to a minimum of 90 degrees
  • Dress and bathe on your own
  • Maneuver safely with your assistive device
  • Get in and out of bed by yourself
  • Be able to do steps safely by yourself (even if it’s 1 step at a time)
  • Have the next phase of physical therapy lined up for coming to your house or go to a clinic
  • Lastly have your home exercises that you should absolutely do until you see another physical therapist.

Week 4 to 8…

Now you are getting into the real rehab of the program. This is an important time to restore full ROM and strength. By now you will be in a clinic (out-patient physical therapy) a few times a week to promote more bending of the knee and strength. Even though you will be seen a few times a week, you will need to continue doing your exercises daily (sometimes 2 times/day) to get the most out of the recovery.

By the sixth week after surgery, you should be able to:

  • Continue your exercise and rehab getting more mobility and strength
  • Notice a decrease in inflammation and swelling (there will still be some)
  • Move around with an assistive device for safety but you might not even need …but it depends on you.
  • Walk with only minimal issues and improve stairs where you can start doing them normally 1 after the other instead of 1 step at a time.

Week 9 to 12…

Here you will notice being able to do a lot of the normal things around the house such as cooking, cleaning, doing stairs easily, squatting down, and feeling minimal pain. You will be getting close to normal with mobility and strength helping you get back to your normal lifestyle. But this is important to maximize your potential. It may seem like you are in the clear and you will be able to stop your exercises and treatments.

But let me ask you… “After all this hard work, pain, and determination, are you ready to settle for it’s good enough? Are you happy to be 50-80% of normal? Or do you want to be better than that?

Your healthcare team will tell you it will take 6 months to a year for recover. Therefore, you have 3-9 more months to reach your maximal potential. You’ve come this far… keep up the hard work.

Here are a few exercises that are functional and will help to maximize your potential:

  • Toe and heel raises (alternating standing on your tip-toes, and then back onto your heels)
  • Squats
  • Step-ups/stairs
  • Straight leg raises on your back and side
  • Walking outside
  • Bicycling with a stationary bike

You are so close to reaching your maximum potential. Keep up the great work. Resume your normal activities and if you have any issues please let your physical therapist know so they can be specific on your exercises and help you overcome and difficulties standing in the way of you being 100% normal.

After about a year, you should be back to 100 percent. It’s important to keep in touch with your therapist and have periodical check-ups to make sure everything is still running smoothly. If you find that you’re having unexpected trouble with your knee at any point, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. If you have any other questions regarding the recovery process of a knee replacement, feel free to check out to reach out to us.

What You Should Know About Plantar Fasciitis

Have you ever woken up and stepped out of bed only to wish you hadn’t because of heel pain? It’s not just the impending dread of a Monday morning at work for some of us. Every day, millions of people begin the day in pain and the culprit is plantar fasciitis.

The cause of this physical impairment is varied in nature. Any number of individual causes or a combination of these can contribute to the condition. Over time, the tissue, or fascia, that helps connect the tissue of muscle and ligaments to the underside of the foot begin to become inflamed or break down altogether. Typically beginning in the heel and following the band of tissue along the sole of the foot to the toes, the symptoms can begin gradually, and through time, overuse, and other contributing factors can become worse over time and even become a chronic disability.

Some of the causes of Plantar Fasciitis include:

  • Long hours standing on your feet
  • Ill-fitting or non-supportive footwear
  • Types of activity, such as running, standing, walking on hard surfaces
  • Women are more susceptible than men
  • Obesity
  • Genetic factors such as flat feet or degenerative disorders affecting the fascia

What is happening?

Symptoms are typically noted after periods in inactivity, such as first waking up in the morning, or even just being off your feet for a long time. The pain is sharp and stabbing, and until the tissues are warmed up and limber, are very noticeable and even debilitating. Because most of us live lifestyles which demand us to be on our feet, pain such as this is often treated in such a way that mask the symptoms, thus enabling us to function, yet in the process continuing to allow the tissue to become damaged further.

Small tears in the fascia become harder for the body to repair, and continued activity on the feet, exacerbate the damage. In the beginning, the pain might be ignored, treated with painkillers, or left up to speculation as to whether this is just something that “happens when you get older,” but the truth is that plantar fasciitis can happen to anyone, at nearly any age. It is an injury that can be prevented, treated, and controlled. Unfortunately, once the damage has begun, without adequate treatment and some adjustments to your lifestyle, it will continue to get worse.

What can I do?

Visit your doctor or physical therapist and get a diagnosis. Chronic pain in the feet may be symptoms of a variety of serious conditions (including diabetes–which can be very serious if left untreated). In order to get the best treatment for you, a diagnosis is the best place to start.

Take a look at what you do in your daily life:

  • Have you undergone any lifestyle changes?
  • Have you been increasing your activity or changing the kinds of exercise you normally do?
  • Have you changed the kinds of shoes you usually wear?
  • Have you gained weight?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Have you experienced an injury that has caused changes in the way you walk?
  • What kinds of surfaces are you walking on and for how many hours per day?
  • Are you stretching properly before and after exercise?
  • Is there any history of plantar fasciitis in your family?
  • When do you feel the pain the most acutely? Does it come and go?
  • Be sure to discuss all of these things with a professional, as any information in relation to pain is important.

What can they do to help?

Physical therapy, an anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen can be administered, or even footwear which provides better support. Inserts can control the damage done from overuse and give the foot the support that it needs to heal on its own. Types of stretching which directly affect this area in a therapeutic way can also be used, as can splints, changes in the kinds of activity you do on your feet, and even weight loss can be used to maintain and control the condition.

Medication such as steroid injections can be used for pain relief, however this may create future problems as they could further weaken the area in the long run. Surgery can also be considered in extreme cases.

At home, following your recovery regimen in conjunction with icing the area, proper stretching techniques, better footwear, and simply allowing your body to heal on its own are also what needs to happen to prevent the condition from getting worse. Monitoring your weight will also minimize the impact on your feet, since the full force of your body falls on such a small surface area with every step you take.

No one should dread their first steps they take in the morning, at least not from simply getting up and out of bed. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and ignoring that pain is like ignoring the advice of your dearest and closest friend. In the short-term, you face pain and discomfort, but in the long-term you might be facing a life-changing disability that will become extremely expensive to treat, if it isn’t too late to be treated at all.

Contact us to learn more about plantar fasciitis and what you can do to live a pain-free, happy, and healthy life. With just a few tweaks to your lifestyle and some proactive treatment early on, this is something you can beat early on. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you until it’s too late.

Walk back into your life with confidence. All you need to do is take the first step.

Top 10 Exercises Before and After TKR

Having a total knee replacement can be overwhelming. Not only are you dealing with the constant pain from the knee, but the preparation can be challenging and stressful. That’s not even including the worry about the recovery. But what if there’s something you can do before the surgery to feel better before the surgery and make the recovery afterwards better? When you are physically fit going in for the surgery, it helps speed up the recovery… makes you feel better, move better, and get the most out of the surgery to get back to a normal lifestyle.

Here are the Top 10 exercises to do before a knee replacement surgery to maximize your recovery…

  1. Heel Slides
    Knee bending and straightening is essential after the surgery for all activities. Start by lying on your back with both legs straight out. Then bend your bad knee and slide heel on the surface back to your butt as far as it can go. Hold for a couple seconds then slide your heel away. Try 10 times.
  2. Back leg raises
    Strong front leg muscles are very important for walking after the surgery. Start by lying on your back with your good knee bent and your bad leg straight out. Then lift your bad leg up keeping your leg as straight as possible. Hold for a couple seconds then lower back down. Try 10 times.
  3. Side leg raises
    Strong side hip muscles help with balancing and walking for safety after the surgery. Start by lying on the opposite side of the bad knee. Then lift your bad leg up keeping your leg as straight as possible. Hold for a couple seconds then lower back down. Try 10 times.
  4. Clam Shells
    Hip mobility is important for moving around in bed and cars after the surgery. Start by lying down on your back with both legs bent. Pull your knees away from each other and hold for 5 seconds. Then pull your knees inward towards each other. Try 10 times.
  5. Pillow Squeezes
    Strong inner thigh muscles help stabilize the leg with walking and standing for safety. Start lying on your back with both knees bent. Place a pillow in between the knees. Then press your knees into the pillow and hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 times.
  6. Seated Kicks
    Strong thigh muscles are the most important muscles to get back to normal after the surgery. Start by sitting in a chair. Then kick your bad leg out as straight as possible. Hold for 5 seconds then lower back down. Try 10 times.
  7. Seated Hamstring Stretch
    Muscle flexibility helps with decreasing knee pain after the surgery. Start sitting in a chair. Place the bad leg out straight then bend forward and try to touch the foot. Hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 times.
  8. Standing Marches
    Hip bending and knee bending will help decrease the tightness in the knee after the surgery. Start by standing near a counter surface. For balance, place 1 hand on the counter, then lift you bad knee up like you are in the marching band. Hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 times.
  9. Standing Abduction
    Strong outside hip muscles are important for balancing and walking after the surgery. Start by standing near a counter surface. For balance, place 1 hand on the counter, then kick your bad leg out to the side keeping it straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 times.
  10. Standing Butt Kicks
    Knee flexibility while standing helps with doing stairs after the surgery. Start by standing near a counter surface. For balance, place 1 hand on the counter, then bend your bad knee and try to kick your butt. Hold for 5 seconds. Try 10 times.

Tips For Relieving Knee Pain

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from aching or painful knees? You are not alone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 1 in 2 people may develop painful knee osteoarthritis by age 85. In addition, if you struggle with weight, research shows that 2 in 3 people may develop painful knee arthritis in their lifetime.

The knee is an incredible joint, having to sustain 6 times your body weight in force, while moving through a large range of motion. The knee joint is inherently unstable, held together by a mass of ligaments, tendons and muscles. The knee also takes a beating during your lifetime. It is estimated that you will walk an estimated 200 million steps, therefore it is easy to see why your knees sustain a lot of wear and tear over the years.  

How to Keep Your Knees Healthy

There are a variety of factors that can cause knee pain, but it is important to focus on preventing knee pain from occurring and what can be done to keep your knees healthy.

Here are useful tips to keep your knees working in tiptop condition:

  • Move – Getting up from a sitting position and put weight on your legs. It may be as simple as walking around the room, walk around your house, or go for a long walk around the neighborhood. Either way, the more you sit the less the knee has to work and the good ‘ole phrase… “If you don’t use it, you lose it” will affect your knees.
  • Stretch daily –Daily stretching maintains good flexibility in your muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee. This allows the knee to continue with its normal mobility specifically bending and straightening.
  • Strengthen your legs – Since the knee is a very functional joint, it requires good muscle support and strength. This provides the stability needed to squat, walk and do stairs. Studies show that strengthening the quadriceps muscle is very important in preventing knee pain and knee osteoarthritis.*
  • Get a tune up from your physical therapist – Your knee needs to move forward and backwards with some twisting motion. Our physical therapists are medical experts in evaluating these special types of motions called accessory movements. By evaluating and treating your knee on a regular basis, our physical therapists can keep your knees moving as they should.
  • Use ice or heat – Typically, ice is used after a flare-up of inflammation, injury or pain. If the pain is new, try ice. Heat is used more for chronic swelling in the knee with the purpose of increasing circulation. If you have had it for a few weeks, months, years… try heat.
  • Watch your weight – The more weight you carry, the more pressure goes on the knee. When squatting down you can increase the pressure on your knee by 3 times. Over time, and it doesn’t take that long (a few months) the knees start to wear down just like anything else with more weight than normal. Therefore, the closer to your ideal weight, the happier your knees can be.

The most important part in preventing knee pain is keeping your legs flexible and strong. If you are concerned about how your knees feel when you try to walk, bend and run, then give Hess Physical Therapy a call today. Our experts have years of experience evaluating the proper mechanics of the knee and restoring them, for a pain-free future.

*Quadriceps weakness and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Achilles Tendonitis: Top 5 Facts to Know from Symptoms to Prevention

If you’ve ever had Achilles Tendonitis, then you know how painful it is in the heel of your foot. An inflammatory injury, it’s due to overuse and abnormal stress on your tendon. As maybe a dancer or runner, you know how common Achilles Tendonitis is, because many in this field (particularly ballet dancers or long distance runners) suffer from it often.

Achilles tendon stress can occur from more than just ballet dancers and long distance runners stressing their feet. Those in sports also suffer from this over time. Any activity that involves landing hard on the heel every day is going to cause this condition eventually.

Others suffer from it due to natural abnormalities. Problems like bowlegs or abnormal heel bones can cause the problem.

Here’s five facts going into more detail about Achilles Tendonitis if you’re suffering from it now.

1. Symptoms Begin as a Mild Ache

Some might assume this condition causes severe heel pain from the beginning. As with other tendon injuries, it’s going to start mild and gradually become worse.

It’s no different with Achilles Tendonitis since it usually starts as a mild ache above your heel, or in the back of your leg. This typically occurs after you run or play aggressive sports.

Gradually, the pain becomes worse if you run every day. Even stair-climbing can worsen the pain. Tenderness and stiffness may occur as well, and you may initially write this off as just a muscle issue after warming up your muscles.

2. Your Achilles Tendon Weakens With Age

It’s natural for your Achilles tendon to start wearing out as you age. You’re more susceptible to injury if you start dancing after age 50, or start doing running and other sports late in life.

You’ll need to take breaks because you could cause serious injury. If the pain becomes severe, see a physical therapist immediately.

3. Physical Therapists Can Find Physical Signs of Achilles Tendonitis

When you see your physical therapist, they’ll inspect your foot for physical signs of this condition. Plenty of physical symptoms exist, with the most common being swelling around the back of your heel.

Other signs include bony spurs at the lower part of your tendon, or the inability to flex your foot normally.

4. Many Non-Surgical Treatments Exist

Having surgery for Achilles Tendonitis is usually a last resort in extremely serious situations. Fortunately, numerous non-surgical treatments are available that usually help the problem.

The most common for mild cases is purely rest, as well as ice placed on your heel. Those who push themselves to the limit are the ones who end up injuring their heel tendon. In this case, merely resting for a while (or doing low-impact workouts) helps considerably.

5. Prevention Should Focus on Footwear and Proper Training

In order to prevent Achilles Tendonitis, focus on the footwear you’re wearing and whether it provides firm arch support. Even cushioning in the heel aids in preventing serious injury.

Beyond footwear, eliminate hill running for a while if you still run daily. Stretching your Achilles tendon and calf muscles before exercise also prevents any relapses. Merely strengthening your calf muscles goes a long way in reinforcing the stress you place on your tendon during dancing or any physical training.

To your healthy foot, Ian Helsel PT, DPT

5 Simple Stretches for the Treatment and Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis

If you feel a sharp/stabbing pain at the bottom of your foot towards your heel when you walk from your bed to the bathroom in the morning, you might have plantar fasciitis. Mayo Clinic defines it as inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is “a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.”

There is not one particular issue or activity that causes this condition, but your risk of plantar fasciitis increases if you are overweight, between the ages of 40 and 60, participate in long-distance running or ballet dancing, or spend the majority of your time standing on hard surfaces. Although the pain is often the worst in the morning or after exercise, allowing you to spend most of your day with no pain, if the condition gets worse it could end up affecting the way you walk. Since the entire body is connected, changes in gait and posture can lead to chronic pain or injury in other parts of your body including your knees, hips, and low back.

These facts are why it’s important to treat plantar fasciitis before it gets worse. Keep in mind that most people recover completely with proper rest, ice, and stretching, though it could take a few weeks or possibly months depending on the severity. While you can include over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce inflammation and discomfort, take care that you’re not relying on them and powering through your day or your workouts like normal. Your feet still need time to heal, even if the medication is covering the pain.

There are several simple exercises you can do to stretch and strengthen the foot to treat and prevent plantar fasciitis. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, and repeat it on each side two or three times.

Shin Stretch

While standing (perhaps using a wall for balance) or sitting, curl your toes so you can place the top of one foot on the ground and press gently to feel the stretch on the front of your leg.

Calf Stretch

From a standing position, stagger your feet so one foot is a big step behind the other. Check that your back toes are pointed forward, and press your back heel toward the floor. Bend your front knee or take a bigger step if you need to increase the stretch.

Toe Stretch

Kneel on the floor and curl your toes into the floor. Gently sit back on your heels so your weight is over your feet.

This stretch can be quite intense, so a gentler version is to sit on a chair with one leg crossed over the other so you can reach your foot. From there, flex your foot and use your hands to gently pull your toes toward your shin.

Towel Stretch

Sit in a chair, and wrap a towel around the arch of your foot. Gently pull the towel toward you.

While you’ve got the towel, place it flat on the floor under your foot. Curl your toes to pull the towel toward you, then use your toes to press it away from you again.

Tennis Ball Rolls

Place your foot on a tennis ball or foam roller and roll it back and forth from heel to toe. You can do this from a seated position, and when you’re ready to add more pressure, you can do it while standing with a wall for balance, if necessary.

If you’re not sure whether or not your foot pain is indicative of plantar fasciitis, come visit us! Our physical therapists will perform a thorough evaluation to rule out any other potential causes for the pain. We’d love to meet you and help you develop a conservative stretching and strengthening routine to recover from plantar fasciitis.

To your healthy foot,
Ian Helsel PT, DPT

Health Blog: 10 Exercises to Help You Regain Balance and Reduce Your Risk of Falling

According to the Center For Disease Control, one out of five falls will result in a serious injury such as a broken bone or a brain injury. It is important to understand ways to prevent falls to avoid injuries from occurring. Many avoid activity or change their activity level due to fear of falling. However, that might not be the best option either. The CDC also notes, keeping active is one way of keeping us stronger, which can also help us avoid falling. Exercising regularly is an important way to maintain strength, flexibility, and decrease risk of falling.

These 10 exercises, when done under the supervision of your physical therapist, can help you regain your balance and reduce your risk of falling.

  • Simple Leg Lift –
    Start with a kitchen chair setting in front of you. Steady yourself by holding onto the back of the chair, and raise one foot off the ground by bending your knee and bringing it up toward your waist. (It is preferable that you let go of the chair back so that you are balancing on your own without assistance, but if you’re unsure or unsteady, keep your hand on the chair.) Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then try closing your eyes and holding the position for 5-10 seconds. Now use the other leg and do the same exercise.
  • Weight Shifts –
    Stand with your feet hip-width apart. With your hands to your sides, or on your hips, lift one foot an inch or two off the floor and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Set it down and repeat with the opposite foot. If needed, you can also use a chair with this exercise to help give you added balance.
  • One-Legged Clock -
    Standing on one foot, extend your arms straight above your head, as though you are signaling 12 o’clock on a clock face. Leaving your right hand on the “12,” move your left hand to the three, six, and nine o’clock positions (pausing at each position). Return your left hand to the 12, and repeat the movements using your right hand. Now, switch feet and repeat. To increase your workout, do it with your eyes closed.
  • Tai Chi –
    Whether you sign up for a class, or follow along to online videos, Tai Chi has been shown to improve balance for its practitioners.
  • Yoga –
    Yoga has also been shown to improve the balance of those who practice it.
  • Heel-to-Toe Walk –
    This exercise is simple, yet effective. Walk 20 paces forward, heel-to-toe. If needed, do this within arm’s reach of a wall to help you with keeping your balance. After you go forward 20 paces, go backward 20 paces — toe-to-heel. Doing this on a regular basis can help you regain a sense of balance.
  • Squat -
    To do a squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Pretend you are sitting in an invisible dining chair. If needed, keep a chair behind you to help you get up and down. This exercise will help strengthen your leg muscles, which is crucial for the prevention of falls.
  • Back Leg Raises –
    You can hold on to a kitchen chair when doing these leg raises. Try not to lean forward or bend the knee of the leg you’re raising; just lift your leg as far off the ground as is comfortable for you, hold it for a couple of seconds, and let it back down. Do this for 10 reps, then do the same thing with the opposite leg. This helps to build lower back muscles as well as buttock muscles.
  • Side Leg Raises –
    Like with the Back Leg Raises, hold onto a kitchen chair. Then, standing on one foot, lift your other foot out to the side. Again, do this for 10 reps, then repeat with the opposite leg. This exercise not only helps strengthen your buttocks, but it also helps with your thigh muscles and your hip muscles.
  • Stability Ball –
    Learning to sit on a stability ball can help improve your core strength, as well as your balance.

While these exercises can be a good starting point to help you improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling, your physical therapist may have additional exercises or variations that they can tailor specifically for you.

Balance Workshop

Learn to improve your balance and prevent falling in this interactive workshop. Plus avoid the single biggest #1 mistake balance sufferers make. Call Hess Physical Therapy at 412-771-1055 today to find out the details.

Health Blog: Is Your Balance Setting You Up for An Injury?

Our balance develops from the time we are an infant all the way through adulthood. In addition, our balance begins to decline or become suboptimal as we get older. Most people don’t know their balance is not optimal until they suffer a sports injury or trip and fall. No matter what your age, balance affects your ability to be active. It is what allows us to walk, run, go from sit to stand, or complete household chores.

Can you do this?

  1. Stand next to a counter or sink barefoot with your hand gently grasping the counter surface.
  2. Put one foot directly in front of the other, so that one heel is touching the opposite toes.
  3. Gently lift your hand up, but keep it close to the counter in case you need to grab it quickly. Try to hold this for 10 seconds (only do this if you feel safe or have someone nearby to help you).
  4. Now try it with you eyes closed.
  5. Do you wobble a lot or even lose your balance? Your balance needs work!

There are many reasons for our decline in balance:

  • Changes in our vestibular system
  • Changes in muscle mass, flexibility and strength
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Diminishing reflexes
  • Previous injuries to ankle, knee, hip or spinal joints

How balance affects sports performance

Balance is a key aspect to excel in sports. Many ankle, knee, hip and back injuries in running, basketball, tennis, and other sports are attributed to poorly performing balance. By incorporating simple balance exercises into your workout routine, you can set yourself up for success and prevent injuries, as well as enhance your sports performance.

How balance affects back pain

How you walk directly impacts your back and can actually be a big contributor to back pain. By improving balance, coordination and strength in your hips, pelvis and legs, your spine will be supported, reducing strain. This in turn, helps your back function normally without aggravation and inflammation. Balance activities are an important component of our SPINE Program for relieving back pain.

Preventing falls

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), over 2.5 million adults were treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency departments in 2013. In older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Most people don’t think about keeping their balance in shape, until it is too late and they fall, fracturing an arm, leg or injuring their back. The good news is that most falls can easily be prevented, simply by the regular exercising of your balance system.

What you can do

The first step in preventing an injury or fall is testing your balance and being honest with yourself that your balance needs work. Our physical therapists can make a big difference in improving your balance and quality of life. Call Hess Physical Therapy at 412-771-1055 today to learn more about our specialized and individualized programs; and, how you can get back to an active, pain free lifestyle!

Total Knee Replacement Recovery Process

When you need to have total knee replacement, the recovery period tends to lie heavily on your mind. It’s a critical part of getting you back on your feet and into your normal lifestyle again, as without it you will not heal properly. Whatever the reason you’ve had the surgery for, you can, at the very least, know what to expect from the recovery. Below we’ve put together a little timeline for the twelve weeks of rehabilitation, so that you can know what your goals are for your healing.

The Beginning:

Rehabilitation for knee replacement, unlike in some other surgeries, begins pretty much from the moment you wake up from surgery. Within the first twenty-four hours you will be back up on your feet with the help of your physical therapist. It’s actually crucial that you start using your new knee as soon as possible. You’ll be given a set of exercises that will build your muscles up and your therapist will help you through them every day. They’ll let you know how you’re supposed to get in and out of bed (you will be using an assistive device for the next few weeks, so as not to strain your surgery site too much) as well as move around. While you’ll be moving, you won’t be moving much, so you’ll have a nurse to help with changing bandages, dressing, bathing and using the toilet.

It’s the job of your physical therapist to make sure that you understand everything that you’re supposed to be doing to keep your knees responsibly active. You, though, need to be sure to ask questions if you’re not sure, and to keep up with the exercises. Yes, it may be incredibly uncomfortable to get up to use the bathroom, but it’s better in the long run to use a regular toilet than to stick with the bedpans, as strengthening the muscles in your legs is key to full recovery.


By the time of your discharge, you should be able to have increased your exercise and activity. You should also be able to shift to lower pain killer levels at this point. The time spent in the hospital varies from patient to patient, depending on their personal recovery level. Be sure to know what your physical therapist and doctor expect from you so you don’t feel as though you need to rush through your recovery.

Upon discharge, however, you should be able to :

  • Bend your knee to a minimum of 90 degrees
  • Dress and bathe on your own
  • Rely only minimally on your assistive device
  • Get in and out of bed with the least amount of help from assistive device
  • Walk up and down stairs using a walker or crutches
  • Know exactly what exercise and activities your therapist expects from you

Week 4 to 8…

So long as you’re keeping up with your exercise and rehab that your physical therapist has laid out for you, your recovery should be on track. You should, by this point, notice a rather large improvement to your knee and leg. You’ll be able to walk longer, and feel more independent. Talk with your doctor and therapist about returning to work and your usual activities. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to return to your job at the time, depending on your career, but you shouldn’t let that put you off of your recovery. Everyone’s recovery is different; some can start driving again as soon as four weeks after surgery, some take more than six. If you’re not sure you’re ready, than consult with your therapist or doctor.

By the sixth week after surgery, you should be able to:

  • Continue your exercise and rehab easily
  • Notice a decrease in inflammation and swelling
  • Return to everyday activities such as cooking, laundry, light cleaning
  • Walk up to half a mile, and climb stairs easily

Week 9 to 12…

Within these weeks you should notice that you’re returning to your normal lifestyle. You should be able to walk around unassisted for some time without any physical exertion or pain. Housekeeping, driving, shopping and other light work should be able to be commenced without any dire issues. Your therapist will, of course, be monitoring your recovery and should be modifying your rehab as needed. You may end up following some of the following exercise:

  • Toe and heel raises (alternating standing on your tip-toes, and then back onto your heels)
  • Partial knee bends while standing
  • Hip abductions
  • Standing on one leg at a time, for as long as possible
  • Step-ups
  • Bicycling with a stationary bike

Some people may feel as though this period is redundant. You feel fine, you can do almost as much as you could before, and you don’t have much pain. Why do you need to keep up with your rehab? If you want your knee to continue to service you in the long time, you won’t be giving up on your exercises. Those muscles are susceptible to easy degradation due to your recent surgery, and any prolonged lapse in your rehab can take you back weeks in progress.

Diligently following your rehab will have you up and about and returning to your previous lifestyle. You should feel little to no pain at this point, when engaging in normal activities (there are some that you should probably avoid for some time, which we will cover for a moment), as well as no loss in range of motion. It’s important to remember to keep in contact with your doctor and therapist, and follow their instructions to keep your knee in tip-top shape. High-impact sports such as running, aerobics, skilling, basketball and football should probably be avoided in order to keep from injuring your knee.

After about a year, you should be back to 100 percent. It’s important to keep in touch with your therapist, and have periodical check-ups to make sure everything is still running smoothly. If you find that you’re having unexpected trouble with your knee at any point, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. If you have any other questions regarding the recovery process of a knee replacement, feel free to check out to reach out to us.

The Right Diet Makes All the Difference: What You Should Eat and Avoid While Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery

The first thought you have after undergoing such a life altering procedure like a total knee replacement is having a smooth sailing recovery. There are many successful strategies that work wonders in healing your body such as following your doctor’s orders and engaging in some knee strengthening exercises. But if you’re looking for another excellent way to have a major impact on your recovery, try turning to what you’re eating. Your body has much to repair from loss of important minerals to cells and tissues which means it needs the right nourishment now more than ever. By acknowledging which vitamins and minerals quickly and efficiently assist in getting your body back to normal, you will fly through your recovery.

To get started, check out these five most essential vitamins and minerals to add to your diet.


This mineral takes an important role in cell regrowth as well as keeping your immunity up so making sure you get your daily amount (about eleven grams for men and eight grams for women) will help make your recovery a breeze. With meat being the highest source, you’ll find at least 5 grams towards your daily goal in beef and oysters, 3 grams in turkey, pork, and veal, and although the levels are much lower, those living the vegetarian life will rejoice knowing nuts and seeds also contain the zinc they need.

Vitamin C.

Going beyond just an immunity boost, Vitamin C is a necessary part of forming cartilage and bone as well as repairing tendons, ligaments, and skin. Consuming your required 75mg-90mg is as simple as adding an array of fruits and vegetables to your meal plan. With food out there containing higher levels of Vitamin C than just your typical glass of orange juice, you can indulge in some great dishes like stuffed roasted red peppers and preparing a strawberry or papaya parfait.


It’s inevitable to lose blood during an operation and that blood loss is also accompanied by low levels of iron. Seeing how this mineral helps combat blood clotting along with avoiding anemia, in most cases your doctor will prescribe a supplement, but you could do more on your behalf by opting for iron-rich food such as spinach, fish, and even cashews.

Vitamin D

Strengthening your knee is a key factor that follows replacement surgery, so why not give your body a vitamin that amplifies bone density along with muscle and tissue regeneration? If you enjoy flounder or codfish, mushrooms, and love eggs for breakfast or mixed into your salad, you’ll find yourself obtaining the right amount of Vitamin D to get the job done.


One of the most important things to add to your diet plan is fiber-rich food. A major complication many people endure after surgery is constipation due to a side effect in their pain killers. To derail any risk of further discomfort, it’s in your best interest to make sure your body is taking in enough whole grain bread, rice, and cereal as well as fiber-packed fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots.

Being aware of the amazing benefits of consuming the right nutrients is only the first step though. It’s important you now acknowledge some foods to take caution with and avoid while you’re recovering from your knee replacement.

Vitamin K.

Although vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet, those that are a source of Vitamin K may contribute to blood clotting, which is already a risk factor after surgery. Make it your short-term goal to ditch broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, cabbage and any other food that contains this vitamin.


We mentioned earlier how constipation is a culprit in amplifying your pain level which ultimately can place additional stress on your recovering knee. As important as it is to eat food that will help you go, it’s just as important to avoid foods that contribute to constipation such as candy, cake, and other pastries. Furthermore, there’s no nutritional value in these items and with their ability to make you feel full faster, they more often than not take the place of the essential food your body needs to heal.


It isn’t always necessary to completely cut dairy products from your diet, however it can cause constipation for some people because of how difficult it becomes to digest after surgery. Focus on low-fat products like yogurt, skim milk, or cottage cheese and eat these in moderation until you establish whether or not your body can handle dairy, and if not, it’s wise to eliminate it for the time being.


Since you’re avoiding constipation, you might think having a cup of Joe when you roll out of bed or need a quick energy boost is a safe way to go, but drinks high in caffeine could make matters worse by causing diarrhea. Therefore, it’s best to avoid coffee, soda, and other caffeinated drinks for at least a couple of weeks after surgery.


Just in case this was questionable, you cannot kick back with a beer while you watch the game. Alcohol causes blood thinning which slows down the healing process as well as risks bleeding and bruising so avoid it entirely.

As always, before altering your diet, consult your doctor to make sure increasing your vitamin intake won’t affect any medication you might be on or to discuss if you need to go a different route such as taking supplements. But overall, adjusting what you eat and what you avoid is an excellent way to have a fast and successful recovery. For more advice on prepping for and healing after surgery, be sure to check out our blog!