Healing After Knee Surgery

Healing After Knee Surgery

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Knee Recovery After Surgery

A person may have knee surgery to treat pain in the joint due to an injury, such as torn cartilage or a torn ligament. It can also treat other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. In this article I am going to cover everything from types of knee surgery, recovery after knee surgery, knee exercise equipment, and healing foods after surgery.

Types of a Knee Surgery

Whenever an injury is too big that we can not rehab it “naturally”, we will go to a special treatment of a knee. There are different knee surgery types. Depending on knee injury, a person will have that kind of surgery that can help to resolve problems with knee injury.

There are many knee problems which are being solved during a surgery. These injuries with knee can be done by doing various kinds of operations:

  • trimming a torn meniscus
  • meniscus repair
  • lateral release
  • plica excision
  • meniscus transplant
  • ACL reconstruction
  • Microfracture
  • Patellar/Quadriceps Tendon Repair

These above are some types of surgical operations for knee injuries. But to make it easy for you to understand, we will divide knee surgeries in only 3 groups.

Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacement is the most common kind of knee surgery for arthritis. This kind of operation involves changing the whole knee joint. It is important to say that surgeons only undertake total knee replacement surgery when there is no other option anymore (joint is irreparable, other treatments do not alleviate the pain etc).

During the surgical operation, surgeon will remove the joint and replace it with one made of metal, plastic or ceramic. Since there is more than 600,000 total knee replacements in one year in USA, we can say that it is routine operation and you don’t need to be worry about it too much.

Partial Knee Replacement

In a knee replacement operation, the surgeon removes damaged parts of the knee joint and replaces them with new parts made of materials such as metal, ceramic or plastic. Contrary to the name of the procedure, the surgeon does not replace the entire knee joint.

Knee replacements can be expected to last at least 15 years; some last 20 years or longer. Because knee replacements do not last forever, age is a factor in deciding between surgery and other pain management alternatives.

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical technique that can diagnose and treat problems in the knee joint. During the procedure, your surgeon will make a very small incision and insert a tiny camera — called an arthroscope — into your knee. This allows them to view the inside of the joint on a screen. The surgeon can then investigate a problem with the knee and, if necessary, correct the issue using small instruments within the arthroscope.

Arthroscopy diagnosis several knee problems, such as a torn meniscus or a misaligned patella (kneecap). It can also repair the ligaments of the joint. There are limited risks to the procedure and the outlook is good for most patients. Your recovery time and prognosis will depend on the severity of the knee problem and the complexity of the required procedure.

Recovery Time From Knee Surgery

Surgery Recovery Time

After your knee surgery, you will probably stay in hospital for few days. You’ll have a large dressing on your knee to protect your wound. Various drains will siphon off blood from the operation site to prevent it collecting inside the wound.

After surgery

The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible. If you’ve had minimally invasive surgery, you may be able to walk on the same day as your operation. Generally, you’ll be helped to stand within 12-24 hours after your operation.

In the beginning, you should walk with a frame or crutches. This will prevent any damage you can potentially make to your knee just after the surgery. Most people are available to walk alone with sticks 1 week after surgical operation. However, it depends on from person to person.

Physical therapy is a very important part of the healing process and is essential if you plan to reduce your knee replacement recovery time. Usually, patients are encouraged to begin physiotherapy just a day after knee surgery. While you are in hospital, your physical therapist will show you all exercise for strengthening your knee muscles when you leave hospital.

When you come home

Usually, you should come home within a 3-5 days after an operation. Of course, patients who has partial knee replacement will leave hospital sooner. If you are very fit, surgeon may suggest enhanced recovery program where you are discharged from 1 to 3 days after surgery.

The exercises your physiotherapist gives you are an important part of your recovery. It’s essential you continue with them once you’re at home. Your rehabilitation will be monitored by a physiotherapist.

How long to be fully recovered?

To be fully recovered from knee surgery it will take some tome. Of course, it depends on of type of knee surgery you had. Usually, after 6 weeks period you will be able to walk alone without frame or crutches. However, it may take up to 3 months for pain and swelling to settle down.

After 1 year, you should be able to use your leg 100% as before. If you did knee joint replacement, this should happen for about 2 years after surgery.

IMPORTANT: Even after you are fully recovered, you need to be very carefully doing some of extreme movements with knees such as: skiing, mountain biking etc.

Knee Exercise Equipment and Supplements

For recovery of a knee surgery, and for knee exercises you may need some following equipment:
  • crutches are your number one or must have when recovering
  • knee support brace
  • knee glide
  • desk paddler
  • elastic stretch band
  • a raised toilet seat

Also, it is always good advice to intake some supplements like vitamins for health of the joints. These supplements should contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, Curcumin. Also, it is never bad option to buy some whey protein since it helps muscles to recover and to become stronger.

Check out our Knee Rehab: Equipment and Supplements post to find out more about equipment and where to buy them for the best price.

Best Knee Rehab Exercises

Knee Rehab Exercises

Here I am going to write you some best basic knee rehab exercises. However, speak to your physical therapist so he can determine exactly which kind of exercises do you need depending on your surgery type, body shape etc.

Warmup: Before doing the following exercises, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of low impact activity, like walking or riding a stationary bicycle.

Heel Cord Stretch (Stretching Exercise)

  • Stand facing a wall with your unaffected leg forward with a slight bend at the
    knee. Your affected leg is straight and behind you, with the heel flat and the
    toes pointed in slightly.
    Keep both heels flat on the floor and press your hips forward toward the wall.
    Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Standing Quadriceps Stretch (Stretching Exercise)

  • Hold on to the back of the chair or wall for a balance. Bend your knee and bring your heel up toward your buttock.
    Grasp your ankle with your hand and gently pull your heel closer to your body.
    Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
    Repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times.

Half Squats (Strengthening Exercise)

  • Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart. Your hands can rest on the front of your thighs or reach in front of you. If needed, hold on to the back of a chair or wall for balance.
    Keep your chest lifted and slowly lower your hips about 10 inches, as if you are sitting down into a chair.
    Plant your weight in your heels and hold the squat for 5 seconds.
    Push through your heels and bring your body back up to standing
    Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Hamstring Curls (Strengthening Exercise)

  • Hold onto the back of a chair or a wall for balance.
    Bend your affected knee and raise your heel toward the ceiling as far as possible without pain.
    Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat.
    Do 3 sets of 10 reps

Leg Extension (Strengthening Exercise)

  • Sit up straight on a chair or bench.
    Tighten your thigh muscles and slowly straighten and raise your affected leg as high as possible.
    Squeeze your thigh muscles and hold this position for 5 secs.
    Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

We’ve covered some basics exercises for your recovery after knee surgery. For a quicker recovery, you will have to train even higher (but carefully), with more exercises and more equipment which will help you achieve your goal – HEALTHY KNEE.

Check out this video to see some more knee exercises.

Healing Foods After Surgery

Healthy Food for Surgery Rehab

Of course, like everything in life, without quality food we will not accomplish our goals quickly. Don’t worry, you don’t need to 100% watch on your diet. I decided to write this because eating some quality food full with vitamins, so it can help your recovery after knee surgery more quick and better. So, eat as much as possible vegetables and fruits. With that you can not make mistake.


Check out our Knee Rehab: Equipment and Supplements post to find out more about equipment and where to buy them for the best price.

These are only our recommendations for your post surgery rehabilitation. You are not obligated to use all or any of them. We just recommend you things that we think may help you the best with your surgery recovery. 


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Stuart

    As one who has to accept that I may have to have surgery on my knee found this article to be not only fascinating but really helpful.  Discovering the differing types of problem which I may have certainly made me sit up and take notice.

    Thought that the inclusion of the recovery exercises was especially useful, and would be of great help to those recovering after surgery.

    All in all an excellent article, many thanks.


    1. Petar Dz.

      Thank you for reading our article mr. Stuart,

      we are always happy to add new articles that people want to hear about. Exercises are always important after surgery.

      Go to visit your doctor and check, maybe you can still avoid your surgery by exercising! We wish you luck.



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