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TKR: What Next? After a Total Knee Replacement

TKR, or total knee replacement, is now one of the most common major orthopedic surgeries. It is usually performed after all other options have been exhausted.

  • Replacing the entire knee joint with an artificial jointis a major surgical procedure done to replace a diseased knee joint with one made from various materials, including ceramics, plastics, and metals such as titanium, cobalt, and chromiums.
  • Your surgeon will carefully choose the right artificial joint that is best for your body.
  • An artificial knee is designed carefully to function just as a natural knee does, and so it maintains that hinge joint action. By adhering to your rehabilitation carefully, you can return to most of your activities in about three months.
  • Generally, it takes about an entire year to regain full strength and endurance around the knee joint.

Suppose you and your surgeon have decided that based on many, many factors, a total knee replacement is your best option for a full and rich life. In that case, it’s imperative that you follow their every recommendation for a successful recovery.

As a personal trainer, I have seen many individuals that do not follow their pre and post-surgical TKR guidelines, with disastrous results. I have also seen dedicated people that follow these guidelines to the letter; you wouldn’t even know they have had a knee replacement save their surgical scars!


One of the most important steps you can take towards a successful recovery actually occursbefore your knee surgery.

  • Typically, you will be given several months notice that you require surgery.
  • In addition to this time, it’s likely that your knee is causing you pain and dysfunction, so much so that you have brought this pain and dysfunction to your doctor’s attention.
  • Now is the time to get in the best shape of your life! 

By going into surgery at a high fitness level, you reduce your risk of many surgical complications, improve your recovery time, and improve your rehabilitation!


  • This will not be a holiday! Recovering for weeks in bed is a thing of the past. The pain is significant and can last for several weeks.
  • Plan to be standing with assistance within 24 hours after your surgery.
  • With the help of a nurse or occupational therapist, you will also be getting dressed, changing your own bandages, going to the washroom, and having a wash!
  • By the second day, you may even take short little walks with an aid. If everything goes smoothly, you will likely only spend a few days in the hospital. 

Once you are at home and on your own, you must follow your surgeon’s recommendations and those of your physiotherapist and occupational therapist. They have done hundreds if not thousands of total knee replacements, so do not take their words lightly.

  • Do not consider yourself unique or somehow exempt from their exercises.
  • If you are unsure how to complete an activity, ask them for clarification. 

When you attend your follow-up visits with your health care team, they will monitor your progress.

  • Remember, you are only cheating yourself and your future health if you skip out on your rehab activities, and your doctors will undoubtedly know.
  • Just think, if you follow your rehab schedule, in just twelve weeks after surgery, you could be back to running or riding your bike!
  • Each week of your rehabilitation will be broken down into milestones for you, so you will have many goals to achieve.
  • For example, in Week One, you will work at standing up on both legs with little to no help. In Week Eight, you might be working on standing on one leg at a time for as long as you can. It’s these small milestones that will build your knee function, strength, and endurance back to what it was pre-surgery.

With thoughtful and diligent preparation before surgery, a good mindset going into surgery, determination, strength, and commitment post-surgery, it is possible to have a fantastic outcome from a total knee replacement. 

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