Surgery & Recovery Timeline

The Road to Restored Motion

Making the decision to have surgery is a huge step in regaining your active lifestyle, but surgery is only part of the process. Your commitment to your rehabilitation will make all the difference in your recovery.

This timeline will give you an overview of the preparation, surgery and recovery period. It may seem overwhelming, but patients who are properly prepared and motivated to stick with their rehab program can return to their favourite activities sooner, with less pain and greater mobility.

Six to Eight Weeks Before Surgery

Recovery actually begins long before your surgery. Preparing your mind, body and home ahead of time will help you cope with the challenges of rehab.

In the weeks before surgery:

  • Make arrangements for someone to get you home from the hospital and help you with household tasks until you are able to do them on your own.
  • Choose a friend or family member as your primary contact to speak to the surgeon and send updates to your family and friends.
  • Try to stay as active as possible.

This is also a good time ask your surgeon about any risks and health factors that may affect your surgery and recovery:

  • Excess body weight can put too much stress on the knee joint. Your GP can recommend a weight loss and nutrition program.
  • Ask your GP or Physiotherapist for pre-op exercises to strengthen your upper body (for crutches) and muscles around the knee joint.
  • Ask which assistive walking device you should use during recovery (walker, crutches or cane). This will allow you to practice with it before your surgery.

One Week Before Surgery

Walking on crutches or with a walker may be difficult in the beginning. You’ll want to have everything you need close at hand, and move potential obstacles and hazards out of the way:

  • Remove loose rugs and electrical cords from the floor.
  • Install handrails in the shower or tub.
  • Place a bench or chair in your shower.
  • Use a toilet-seat riser with arms if you have a low toilet.
  • Climbing stairs will be difficult, so create a living area on one floor.
  • Consider buying a cordless phone for greater freedom and security.
  • Call your GP or surgeon if you come down with a fever, cold, toothache, rash, or any other illness in the week before surgery.

Day of Surgery

The anaesthesia team will meet with you to discuss the anaesthesia process, risks and options for each type of anaesthetic.

  • General anaesthesia: you will be completely unconscious during your surgery, but may experience side effects such as nausea.
  • Spinal or Epidural Anaesthesia: you will be awake for your surgery, but feel no pain.

Your surgery will last around 2-3 hours. Your therapy begins almost immediately. While in bed, you will be asked to move your legs and feet to aid circulation and lower your risk of blood clots.

During Your Hospital Stay

Your physical therapist will teach you how to get in and out of bed, in and out of a chair, and up and down stairs.

You will begin to perform exercises to build strength and increase motion in your restored knee. You will be trained in daily exercise, movement, personal care (using the toilet, bathing and dressing) and use of assistive devices to help you make a full recovery.

Six Weeks After Surgery

You may need to be on crutches or a walker for up to 6 weeks after your surgery to allow your knee to heal. Your physical therapist may give you a series of exercises to do at home.

If you are consistent with your physical therapy, you should be able to resume activities such as driving, shopping, housekeeping and sex (when you feel comfortable) after six weeks.

Twelve Weeks After Surgery

Approximately 12 weeks after surgery, you should be able to enjoy a variety of low-impact activities such as swimming and walking.