Recovering from knee replacement surgery: Progress?

I received my new knee on June 12. Was sent to a nursing home on the 16th, came home yesterday, the 24th. My husband has been taking care of me, which is a blessing. I’m finally able to go anywhere on each floor of the house without a walker. I do have to grab things for balance (balance has always been a problem; the last thing I want is to fall on my new knee).

Is this normal for knee replacement, or is my progress slowed down for being old (72) and very diabetic?

How much time until I’m ready to have the other knee replaced?

My inlaws got new knees in their 80s and I seem to recall they recovered quite quickly. My sister, on the other hand, is 53 and it’s been a year since her knee was replaced and she’s still in constant pain and has limited mobility. To be fair, tho, she has some kind of weird problem with her leg apart from the knee, and there also seems to be a neurological problem.

My point is - who knows?? The fact that you’re walking around is a really good sign - frankly, it sounds to me link you’re really doing well. Good luck in your recovery!

I would definitely recommend using a cane at this stage rather than grabbing onto things around the house for support, preferably a four-footed one.

I’ve had both my knees replaced. The first was three years ago at the end of this August. The second was three months later. Both times they had me up walking with a cane the same day as my operation and I went into a care center the next day and was there for two weeks. Then once home I went to see a certified physical therapist three times a week for several weeks, then twice a week for several weeks. Probably four or five months of therapy in all for both knees. I don’t remember exactly how long I used a cane, but I used one for as long as I felt unsteadiness might be a problem. I stopped using one around the house before I stopped using one when out and about, both because of the distances involved and the dangers presented by being in close proximity to other people.

I assume you’re doing exercises. They can be uncomfortable and quite a pain but you have to do them if you want full movement in your legs. Coming out of the care center two weeks after my first operation my leg wouldn’t fully extend and my surgeon was quite pissed (at the care center). He had me start a regimen that included sitting in a chair with my foot in another chair and placing books on top of my knee. That was not fun, believe me. Nor were most of the other exercises. But it’s critical that you do them, and trust me you’ll eventually be very sorry if you don’t.

It’s typically said that it takes about a year to fully recover from knee replacements and get back to normal, and in one sense I found that to be true. After a year or so I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted without trouble. But improvement still seemed to continue in small, almost imperceptible ways for a long time after that. Even now I sense improvement vs. six months or a year ago. Fewer slight twinges of mild pain or discomfort, increased strength and stability, and a more natural feel when kneeling on firm or hard surfaces. I was encouraged to kneel fairly early on by my surgeon but I didn’t like it. It wasn’t painful but it just felt odd and wrong. Now it’s okay and that’s a recent development.

I have to be honest and state that I’ve questioned the wisdom of having them both done so close together. I developed anemia in the wake of my surgeries and only recently have crossed over into having a normal level of red blood cells, but I’m at the very bottom of the normal range and still don’t have my old energy level back. I don’t know if having both surgeries close together played a role in that or not but I’ve always suspected that I may not have given my body enough time to recover sufficiently from the first operation before undergoing the second. (I was 66 and 67 respectively at the time of my surgeries.)

Also, for the rest of your life you’ll have to be on the lookout for systemic infections in your body. If bacteria reaches your knee replacements it can grow unchecked and result in your having to have your replacements taken out, the infected tissue cut out and healed, and then new replacements installed, a terrifically unpleasant two or three month process. It can also result in the loss of one or both legs. So make sure to get antibiotics before you get your teeth cleaned, in the event of any deep cuts, or should you develop any systemic bacterial infections. If you have any other questions feel free to PM me.

Thanks so much, guys. Starving Artist: Have you done water therapy? I’ve done it from January until surgery, and plan to resume next week. It’s nice to work out without pain.

Were you prescribed a knee CPM? A friend who used one had a quick recovery.

No, sorry, I’m entirely unaware of water therapy. It would definitely be nice to be able to do the exercises without discomfort so long as the therapy is as effective. But on that count I have no idea.


Tomorrow is 6 weeks since my surgery, and I’ve progressed better than I had thought. I’m still having trouble with two things. The first is getting out of the car (from the driver’s side). I wish my ankle could rotate 180 degrees. The second thing is, predictably, going up and down stairs… single-stepping rather than double. It’s difficult and very painful, but I’m doing it. Of course down is harder than up.

This past Monday, I went food shopping for the first time since my surgery. The store is quite large, and I went up and down every single aisle. I remember how my knee used to hurt going through half the store. This time there was no pain whatsoever. I used the shopping cart as a walker, and it went just fine.

I wish I’d had this surgery years ago.

The knee surgeon says my new xrays look great. He said my new knees should last 15-20 years, but something else will kill me before then. :eek:

I’ve just got out of hospital and was browsing for a cushion for my sore bottom. One of the items I noticed on the “independent living” site (a site with all sorts of aids for people) was a “swivel cushion” where you could swivel yourself out of the car (I’m a bit one leg at a time getting out of my car, I didn’t have joint replacement surgery, but one of my legs is a “bit bung” from being operated on.) I don’t know whether this would be suitable and you need to speak to your doctors/occupational therapist about this sort of thing. Sometimes we need to persist with the difficult things to get back our full mobility, strength and function. It’s good to have the update and hear that you are progressing and free of pain from your previously-bung knee.

Glad to hear your recovery is going so well. To be frank I was a bit concerned that you weren’t getting enough or the right kind of exercise to facilitate a full and complete recovery and I’m glad to see that your recovery is going so well.

As far as getting out from the driver’s side, I’d suggest that unless you’ve already tried it you tilt the wheel all the way up, move the seat back as far as it’ll go, lift your legs enough to allow your foot to clear the door sill and attempt to swivel your entire body so as to allow you to lower both feet onto the ground simultaneously. I was able to both get into and out of my car with very little trouble by using this technique, despite my size 13 shoes.

Isn’t it fun to be at the age where doctors start telling you that certain parts of your body will almost certainly outlast you. I heard something similar about my teeth. I went to see a dental surgeon about getting a couple of implants and while discussing my x-rays the doctor said “You have long roots and your teeth overall are strong and in good shape. They’ll probably outlast you.” I laughed and told him that I was glad to hear that, I’d been worried I might have to get dentures at some point over the next 40 years. At any rate, I’m sure it’s a comfort to know that your new knees will be able to carry on for some time without you. :wink:

My dad had a knee replaced. My best advice is do the exercises faithfully, even if it hurts.

IANADoctor or a physical therapist, but I would do the water therapy in addition to the other exercises, not instead of. It’s gonna hurt, but I suspect it is like my lower back - you can hurt from the exercises and get mobile, or hurt from not doing the exercises and not be mobile.

Best to you on your recovery.


My mom had her knee replaced a few years ago, at age 80 and she says the same thing. In addition, she had talked to her friends ahead of time, and they suggested that she do exercised BEFORE the surgery. Her surgeon agreed, saying that having stronger muscles going into the surgery makes recovery faster. So you might want take the exercises that you’ve been given, and repeat them for the knee you will be having replaced in the future.


I’m in my late 50s. About 8 years back, my chronic low-level knee pain degraded to a constant, fairly severe pain, for no obvious reason. I did PT (made it worse), presxcription NSAIDs (helped), and then the doc did a series of joint fluid injections that made a big difference. Bionic knees might still be in my future but not right now. At the same time, a friend who was just a year or two older (early 50s) had one done, then a few months later had the other - and was thrilled with the results. I told my own orthopedist about this, saying “She’s kicking herself - or would be if she could - for not getting it done sooner!”.

Left Knee - March 2016
Right Knee - March 2018

Still working on rehab for the right knee as it does take about a year to get it to 100%. I’d say that now it is at 70% and though I still deal with some muscle nerve issues and pain (I can sure tell when it’s going to rain) it’s light years better than what I had before the last surgery.

I sit most of the day at a desk and I can really tel;l when I haven’t given my knees enough exercise.

Keep at it. Sometimes it feels like you’ve hit a plateau but give it a week and you can usually notice that you are stronger.