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Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid After Knee Replacement Surgery

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Knee replacement surgery is a major surgery, but it can be a life-changing one for people who suffer from severe knee pain and arthritis. However, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after surgery to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid after knee replacement surgery.

Knee Replacement
Knee Replacement

Top 5 Mistakes After Knee Replacement

  • Not Taking Proper Medication

Pain and inflammation are common after knee replacement surgery. Your doctor will prescribe medication to help you manage these symptoms. It is important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you are feeling better. Stopping your medication too soon can lead to pain and stiffness, which can delay your recovery.

  • Embracing a Sedentary Lifestyle

It is tempting to rest and avoid activity after knee replacement surgery. However, it is important to start moving as soon as possible. This will help to prevent stiffness and improve your range of motion. Your physical therapist will give you specific exercises to do. Start slowly and gradually increase your activity level.

  • Overexerting Yourself and Doing Too Much Too Soon

It is also important to avoid overexerting yourself after knee replacement surgery. This can put too much stress on your new knee and lead to complications. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need them. Don’t try to do too much too soon.

Although it’s important to keep moving, there’s a limit to this too. While your knee joint needs regular movement to prevent stiffness, it also needs rest to heal. After major surgery like a knee replacement, your body uses a lot of extra energy for wound healing and you may feel very tired.

Here are some activities you’ll need to phase back into after a knee replacement:

Driving after a knee replacement

It can be tempting to go back to driving as soon as physically possible, especially if you don’t live with someone else who can drive you. However, surgeons usually advise a period of post-surgery rest before driving – often 6 weeks.

It’s essential to follow this advice to the letter – for one thing, your car insurance is unlikely to be valid if you drive against your surgeon’s advice. Another concern is safety – for yourself, other passengers and other people on the road.

While you may feel fine to drive, symptoms can vary dramatically over a few hours in the weeks following a knee replacement. If you irritate your knee while driving alone, you may find yourself stranded.

Going back to work

If you have a physical job, it’s safe to say you’ll be taking some significant time off work. The amount of time off work required varies for each person and surgery. Your knee surgeon can advise you on how long you’ll likely need to take off work.

If you have a desk job, you should be able to go back to work sooner than someone whose job is very active. However, it’s still important to make sure you’re ready before returning. Consider transport to work, getting around your workplace and pain management.

More than ever, people have the option of working from home. If you can work from home, you may be able to start working again sooner than people who need to go into the office. But even then, you will likely need a recovery period before working full-time.

Sitting for long hours at a desk can cause your knee to stiffen up and become painful. You are likely to be more tired than normal, and pain medication can affect your ability to focus.

Engaging in high-risk activities

If you’re feeling great after your knee replacement, you may be tempted to throw yourself back into your usual life. But in the weeks immediately following a knee replacement, certain activities are not a good idea.

Heavy lifting activities, such as carrying big bags of soil across the garden, can put too much pressure on your new knee in the early stages of recovery. This could irritate the knee joint, cause more pain and swelling, and slow your recovery.

Twisting movements with your foot planted (such as shovelling snow) could irritate your new knee as well. Any activities that come with a risk of falling, such as going out for a bike ride, are discouraged in the early days following a knee replacement as well. If you want to get moving, try a static bike instead which has much lower injury risks.

  • Not Following Your Physical Therapy Plan

Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery. It helps to improve your range of motion, strength, and flexibility. It is important to follow your physical therapist’s plan carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to ask your therapist.

  • Not paying attention to red flags

Red flags are signs to watch out for that may indicate a problem with your new knee. Your surgeon or healthcare team will make you aware of these before you go home.

Pain – what’s normal and what’s not?

Pain is to be expected following a knee replacement [4]. However, your knee pain should be manageable with painkillers – if your pain is severe or unbearable, contact your doctor for advice. Here are some other signs that you should reach out to your doctor or healthcare team for advice:

  • Sudden pain after a pain-free period – If your pain suddenly flares up after a pain-free period, it could be a sign that something’s wrong. Part of the new joint or the tissues around it could have become damaged, even if you’re not sure how it happened.
  • Instability – If your knee starts giving way (or feeling like it’s going to give way), this could mean your new joint isn’t aligned as it should be [5]. You may also feel pain alongside instability. If you’re struggling with instability following knee surgery, we can use diagnostic imaging to ensure everything is as it should be.
  • Increasing pain in the days after surgery – Sometimes, your pain levels may increase temporarily as you start to do more. But if your pain is getting consistently worse in the days following surgery, it’s time to reach out for advice.
  • Increased pain, swelling and heat in your knee – Pain, swelling and heat are expected in the days following surgery. However, if they suddenly increase, it could be a sign of a joint infection.
  • Pain, swelling and heat in your calf – If your calf suddenly becomes painful to touch, red and hot, it could be a sign of a blood clot. Contact your doctor for advice as soon as possible.
  • Not Eating a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health and well-being. It is especially important after knee replacement surgery. A healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. You should also drink plenty of fluids.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can improve your chances of a successful recovery after knee replacement surgery. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and work with your physical therapist to develop a personalized recovery plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to recover from knee replacement surgery?

The recovery time varies from person to person, but it typically takes 3-6 months to fully recover from knee replacement surgery.

2. What are the risks of knee replacement surgery?

The risks of knee replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, and nerve damage. However, these risks are relatively rare.

3. What can I do to prevent complications after knee replacement surgery?

There are a few things you can do to prevent complications after knee replacement surgery, such as:

  • Taking your medication as prescribed
  • Following your physical therapist’s plan
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting enough rest
  • Avoiding activities that put too much stress on your knee

4. What are the benefits of knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery can significantly improve your quality of life. It can relieve pain, improve your range of motion, and make it easier to participate in activities you enjoy.

5. How much does knee replacement surgery cost?

The cost of knee replacement surgery varies depending on the type of surgery, your location, and your insurance coverage. However, it is typically a costly procedure.

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