Recovering from hip and/or knee replacement surgery

Recovering from hip and/or knee replacement surgery

You have done all you can to improve your health and maximize your outcome and the day has finally arrived.  You check into the hospital, meet the anesthesiologist, discuss the different options for anesthetic, and away you go to the operating room.  The operation generally takes an hour or two, depending on your particular circumstances.  After surgery, you will be in the recovery room for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how quickly you recover from the anesthetic.  In most circumstances, you will be getting up and moving around the day of surgery.  It is important not to lie around in bed because you want to decrease your risk of getting blood clots in your legs.  Under the supervision of a therapist and your nursing team, you will get up and begin walking.  Each day you will follow a prescribed therapy regimen until you are ready to go home.  This can vary from 1 to 3 days in most circumstances.  The more you do, moving around, taking charge of your recovery, the better off you will be in the long run.  With hip replacements, there are sometimes precautions that need to be followed.  With knee replacement, patients often find this is more challenging due to the fact not only are you getting up and walking around, you are having to work on range of motion to re-establish the function of your knee joint.  But this is not a time when you can sit back passively and expect others to make you better.  You are in charge of your recovery, and following your team’s orders, you will make the most of the opportunity presented to you.  Multimodal pain management makes it possible for you to be up moving around with only a minor degree of discomfort.  There will be pain, and that is to be expected after any type of surgery.  No matter how small are the incisions, there is still discomfort to be expected, but it is usually well controlled by pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory medication.  It is important you do as much as you can to improve your outcome over the first few months after surgery.  You have to be patient, as the total recovery after hip or knee replacement often takes a year, though the majority of your recognizable improvement will be in the first few months.  Your surgeon will do their best to give you a joint that functions well, but it is up to the patient to be an active participant in the recovery. 

Having done this for many years, I am continually impressed with the diligence of most of our patients in getting up and getting going after surgery.  So, get out there, get exercising, get rehabbing, and make the most of your joint replacement procedure.�
— William P. Barrett, MD

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office


  1. Charles K. Meierdiercks

    Dr. Barrett, may I say at the outset how much I appreciated your blog;as a potential client for a hip replacement, and trying to take responsibility for my health care, your blog shed some well needed light on my questions. So often the health care providers seem to be members of a club that has secret handshakes and language, and prices for service are not,shown similar to restaurants price-less listing of the dinners items.
    My Doctor acknowledges that I have osteoarthritis of hip and maybe knee and mentioned surgery without suggesting it. I have asked him to permit me to go to a physical therapist to help analyze the problem and perhaps ease it a bit, but I would also like some names of Doctors who I could consult with. I live in Olympia and have Regency and medicare.
    Thank you for the good work that you do.
    Aloha, Charles K Meierdiercks,Ph.D.