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How soon can I get back to normal activities after my knee replacement?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Most people get back to their normal activities soon after knee replacement surgery. For the first few weeks at home, you'll need to be careful with your new knee to avoid dislocating it. After that, you can gradually begin normal activities again. Most people can go back to work after six to eight weeks, and most are fully recovered from their knee replacement surgery after three to six months. 
Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Ask your doctor and physical therapist how soon you can return to specific activities and what preparation will help you achieve those goals:

Driving. If your left knee was replaced and your car is an automatic, you may be able to drive as soon as you are not taking opioid medication and feel up to it. If the right knee was operated on, a wait of six to eight weeks is typical. If pain previously hampered your ability to brake quickly, your reaction time may improve greatly after you have healed.

Work. You'll probably be able to return to a desk job after six to eight weeks; a job requiring lots of standing, walking, or lifting may take twice as long. Avoid heavy lifting, which places significant stress on your implant.

Sex. Wait until the incisions and tissues in the front of the knee heal (about six weeks). If you usually put weight on your knees during sex, you may want to try a position that involves lying on your back or side or even sitting.

Sports. By eight weeks after surgery, you may be able to resume activities such as golfing, bowling, ballroom dancing, biking, swimming, or scuba diving. Some sports will never be advisable with a replacement knee. The prosthesis simply won't hold up to the jumping, twisting, or repeated jarring of running, soccer, basketball, volleyball, or contact sports. However, you may be able to engage in a sport that occasionally requires a brief run, such as gentle doubles tennis. Ask your doctor whether a return to your favorite sport is realistic; if so, your physical therapist can help tailor your rehab program to prepare you for the safest return possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.