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Regaining Mobility After Knee Surgery

on tennis court

The following are some ways to help incorporate movement after you've had knee replacement surgery. Discuss these techniques with your orthopedist before attempting them. Your physical therapist may modify some of these techniques depending on your particular situation (e.g., age, weight, and procedure). Only do the techniques that are recommended by your surgeon and/or therapist.

Lying down

To help promote flexibility in your knee while lying down, place a rolled-up bath towel under your ankle. As your knee straightens, you may feel a gentle stretch in your thigh area.

Sitting up

For the first few times, your physician or therapist may move and hold your leg. Soon you will sit at the edge of the bed with your foot resting on a small stool without assistance. You may be asked to stretch your recovering leg and rest it on a chair.

Standing with support

For a while, your physician or therapist may help you stand. A safety belt may be placed around your waist to support you in case you feel dizzy. A splint may also be placed around your recovering leg to keep it from moving and protect your knee as you stand.

Using a walker

Once you can stand, you'll probably use a walker to help you keep your balance. Initially, you will be told to place only a small amount of weight on your recovering leg as you walk. As your knee becomes stronger, your doctor will tell you when you can increase the amount of weight placed on your recovering leg.

Walking with crutches

Once your knee and leg muscles are strong enough, your physician or physical therapist may recommend crutches instead of a walker. Your therapist will give you guidelines on how far and how long you may walk.