Returning Home Guide

Getting Into Your Car

  • Sit down on the edge of the car seat
  • Swing one leg over into the car, then the other
  • Pivot in seat to face forward, buckle seat belt

Getting Out Of the Car

  • Reverse the above process, but be sure to bend and straighten your operative knee first before you get out of the car as it can get stiff during your ride home

Opening A Door

  • When door swings away: Walk up as close to the door as possible, while holding onto your walker/cane with one hand, open the door fully and then walk through
  • When door swings toward you: Stand to the side of the door, open the door then walk through

Home Environment - Sitting/Seating Preferences

  • It will be easier for you to sit and stand if you use a chair/sofa with a high seat and ones that are not too "cushy"
  • Use seating that have armrests until you gain back your full strength
  • Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting. Cover slippery surfaces with carpets that are firmly anchored to the floor or that have non-skid back
  • Be aware of all floor hazards such as pets, small objects, electrical cords or uneven surfaces
  • Provide good lighting throughout. Install nightlights in the bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways
  • Keep extension cords and telephone cords out of pathways. DO NOT run wires under rugs; this is a fire hazard
  • DO NOT lift heavy objects for the first three months, and then only with your surgeon's permission
  • DO NOT wear open-toe slippers or shoes without backs. They do not provide adequate support and can lead to slips and falls
  • Stop and think. Use good judgment


  • In general, you can shower approximately 3 days after surgery if the wound is dry. Limit the amount of time water is exposed to the incision site. Pat the incision dry when finished
  • Do not immerse the incision in a tub or Jacuzzi for at least 3-4 weeks after surgery

Daily Activities

  • Remember, you just had major joint surgery. Your joint needs time to heal and has to be eased back into daily activities
  • Slowly increase your daily activities to a level similar to your normal daily activity level
  • While there is no physical restriction related to your total knee replacement that would prohibit kneeling, many do not feel comfortable doing so. Speak with your doctor or therapist if you have difficulty kneeling

Normal Sensations/Sounds

  • Due to your surgery, you may notice that the skin around the incision site may feel numb but usually decreases over time
  • Your muscles might get sore after exercise or performing daily activities. This is a normal response and muscle soreness should not last more than an hour or so after exercise/activity. If it does last longer, do not start another bout of exercise or strenuous activity until the discomfort has gone away
  • Some persons experience a "clicking" sound when moving their leg, especially against gravity. As your knee replacement is made of metal and plastic, this is normal and should not be accompanied by any pain


  • When traveling, stop and change position hourly to prevent your joint from tightening
  • Your physician will tell you when you can travel in planes
    • Your total knee replacement has metal components that may cause the setting off of alarms at security checkpoints in airports and other public travel areas
    • Advise the authorities before you are screened that you have a total knee replacement. On airplanes, request a bulkhead seat so you have more room
    • Wear your support socks (TEDS) and do ankle pumping frequently
  • In general, persons with a total knee replacement can begin driving themselves at approximately 4-6 weeks after surgery providing:
    • They no longer are taking narcotic medication for pain
    • You have regained your strength and reflexes
    • Persons with a left total knee replacement tend to be able to start driving sooner as the right foot operates the pedals. Those who have a clutch may need to wait a longer time before returning to driving their car
    • We recommend testing your driving ability by driving in an open parking lot with a friend

Return To Work

  • Persons with more desk/administrative type jobs can return to work in a matter of a few weeks
  • Persons with more physically demanding jobs usually return to work in 3 to 6 months


  • Call your Doctor if you experience any of the following:
    • Marked increase in pain in your knee above normal discomfort experienced when exercising or walking
    • Increased swelling, warmth of the operated knee
    • Red, raised areas along incision line
    • Drainage from the incision site
    • Fever/Productive cough
    • If either of your calf regions become swollen, painful or tender to touch
  • Discuss with your Doctor /Dentist about the need to take antibiotics before you are having dental work or other invasive procedures for two years after total knee surgery


  • Kneeling Ability After Total Knee Replacement
    S.H. Palmer, C.T. Servant, J. Maguire, E.N. Parish, M.J. Cross
    The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 84B: 220-222, 2002

Patient Stories

  • "I don’t know why I put it off. It was the best thing I ever did."

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  • “They are a great team,” she says. “They won’t let anything go wrong.”

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  • “I was walking again almost immediately.”

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