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What's Going To Happen After My Knee Surgery?

patient leaving room

The first 24 hours after knee surgery

woman on crutches

Rehab begins as soon as you're back in your hospital room. Your rehabilitation program will help you regain strength, balance, and range of movement in your knee. This program will be designed specifically for you and may include a machine called a "continuous passive motion" machine that gently straightens and bends your knee to help reduce stiffness. Other exercises that promote blood flow to your legs include ankle pumps and pedaling your feet.

Getting up and around soon is important. In fact, you'll probably be asked to stand as quickly as 24 hours after surgery. If you had considerable pain before surgery, you most likely cut back on your activities, so your leg muscles may be weak. You’ll need to build up enough strength to control your new knee, and early activity encourages healing, too. Your doctor and physical therapist will give you specific instructions on wound care, pain control, diet, and exercise.

The rest of your hospital stay

Within the next 24 hours, you'll probably begin to walk a few steps with the help of a walker. You'll be discharged as soon as your surgeon determines that you have recovered sufficiently. You can expect to stay in the hospital for about three days after your surgery. You may or may not be transferred to a rehabilitation facility for a few more days, as determined by your surgeon. Your bandages and sutures will usually be removed before you leave the hospital.

At home, you'll need to continue your exercises. Your physical therapist will instruct you about proper home care and may continue to work with you.