6 Reasons Why Your Knee Surgery Recovery Time Is Taking Longer

If you have undergone knee surgery within the past few weeks or months, then you are already well-acquainted with how slow the recovery process can be.  The truth is, naturally, some people just bounce back quickly and recover in no time, while others take a lot longer. That’s just a fact of life. However, if you find that your knee surgery recovery time is taking longer than expected—or even taking longer than anticipated by your surgeon, then there might be something you are doing (or not doing) that is making your recovery longer than it should. Keep reading for 6 common reasons.
 

Reason # 1 – You are trying to walk or get around too much, too quickly

 
One of the biggest set-backs for knee surgery recovery is trying to walk or generally move around before your body is ready for that type of motion and weight bearing. Even if your physician has given you the go-ahead to put some weight on your knee, you shouldn’t start walking around the house all day, going up and down stairs, or engaging in too much walking and movement right off the bat. The key is to start with small achievements and work your way up; if you push your knees too much, too soon, then your recovery could be seriously set back. And don’t think that just because you are using an assistive walking device such as a walker or cane that you can excessively walk around your house or go out for errands: you still need to be resting your legs in order to improve your chances for recovery, and you still need to be conscious about how much you’re walking in order to keep it to a reasonable minimum.  If you are not giving yourself at least 30 minutes of rest every couple of hours (and even more than that in the first weeks), then you are asking for trouble.
 

Reason # 2 – You are not icing your knee properly

 
It can be annoying or even uncomfortable to ice your knee after surgery for the amount of time that your physician has recommended. However, there is a reason why you are supposed to ice your knee frequently post-surgery: icing helps keep down the swelling, it reduces inflammation and provides additional pain relief to the area of your body where the surgery occurred. If you aren’t icing your knee properly, your knee will likely be more inflamed and thus prone to a slower recovery as a whole.
 

SimplyJnJ Knee Ice Wrap With Compression - Promo

 

Reason # 3 – You aren’t elevating your leg high enough—or long enough

 
Icing, which we just covered, and elevation are crucial steps in the R.I.C.E methodology that is often recommended after an injury or surgery.  Lack of elevation is another all-too-common reason which has caused many people recovering from surgery to find that it’s taking much longer than expected. Regular leg elevation is essential for knee surgery recovery, so if you aren’t elevating your leg for a set amount of time each day—or you happen to not be elevating your leg high enough—then you are not doing yourself any favors. In regards to height, you need to be elevating your leg at a height that is above your heart; make sure that you are elevating your leg at the heel, not the knee. As a general rule, you should elevate your legs about for about 30 minutes straight every 2 hours. And yes, this may seem like a hassle, but if you don’t elevate your legs enough, your knees will become inflamed and this will greatly slow down your recovery process.
 

Reason # 4 – You are babying your knee when it comes to bending

 
You don’t want to push your knee too much, but you also don’t want to baby it after the surgery either. Finding the right balance between babying and pushing is difficult, but it’s essential to understand what your limitations are and then “baby” your knee based on those limitations. One of the aspects of recovery that doesn’t need babying is bending your knee. You are likely hesitant and may be a little scared to bend your knee after knee surgery, but doing bending knee exercises is essential for building your knee’s range of movement and overall strength. Don’t push your knee or try to hyper-extend it the first time around, but small bends here and there and gradual bending exercises are much better for your recover than avoiding bending your knee for weeks. (Important Note – Always consult your physician, and hopefully post-surgery physical therapist, for the right exercises to do after your situation. Another thing, make sure you actually do what they recommend!)
 
6 Reasons Why Your Knee Surgery Recovery Is Taking Longer Than Expected - 2nd
 

Reason # 5 – You are focusing on easy exercises and avoiding hard exercises

 
While we’re on the topic of exercise (because it’s so important) – one of the most common reasons why people’s knee surgery recovery isn’t going fast enough is their reliance on easy exercises and by contrast, their avoidance of those harder post-op exercises. It’s only natural to feel timid or even a little afraid of the more difficult post-surgery exercises for your knee. They can be uncomfortable and tense, and you may be worried about hurting your knee after the surgery. But avoiding the prescribed harder exercises for your knee in favor of easy exercises that don’t challenge your knee to improve is a serious mistake. Your knee needs to gradually regain strength, range of movement and other essential functions after the surgery. You can only do this by practicing the regular hard exercises as explained by your physician and/or physical therapist.
 

Reason # 6 – You are not using the right type of walking assistive device

 
You need to be using some type of assistive walking device after your knee surgery. Why? Because it is very important that you keep your body’s full weight from pressuring your knee for a few weeks to a few months depending on the severity of your surgery.  Ideally, you need to be using devices which allow you to completely (or nearly completely) keep the weight off your knees. In the first few weeks after your recovery, this means using a walker (if possible) or crutches to get around your home or anywhere you need to go. If you are using the wrong type of assistive walking device early on, a cane for example (which doesn’t allow you to keep your weight off completed),  then you are not helping your knee surgery recovery time. 
 

Conclusion

 
Recovering from knee surgery is not always easy, but as you can see from the information we posted today, there are ways to make your recovery just a little bit faster. Have a look at our ice knee wrap with compression before you leave. We’re positive that it can help. Good luck, and if you have some words of wisdom for our readers on your recovery journey, we’d love to hear them! Just leave a comment below.
 
BTW – If you know someone who is about to undergo knee surgery, please have them look at one of our other related posts: Tips on How To Prepare For Knee Surgery
 
Disclaimer – As we mentioned before, we are not doctors here at SimplyJnJ. The information on knee surgery recovery time was gathered from various sources and people who have undergone surgery and was posted for information purposes only.

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15 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Your Knee Surgery Recovery Time Is Taking Longer”

  1. I’m guilty of not pushing myself when it comes to the harder exercises and doing my physio in general. So scared to hurt myself more.

    1. Hi Rebecca – You are definitely not alone! I’ve seen many people skip out on the rehab exercises (myself included in the past) or have a hard time trusting their physiotherapist when it comes time to pushing it to the next level. But it’s so important to do it anyways. Just make sure you do your research and find a reputable physiotherapist. Your body will thank you in the long run.

  2. I had my TKR in nov 18 and now it is June.I am able to walk comfortably bit i feel stiffnes in front of my knee all the time even doing the ex by holding the chair and lifting my leg from back it feels somthing is holding my front prtion of the knee which i feel recovering slowly .Is it the procesd of recovery though i can bend easily use Indian toilet for few seconds .pl guide .
    Thankyou

    1. Hi Meena – Thanks for leaving a comment. I was reading an article the other day that was talking about knee stiffness after TKR. Have a look, it might interest you: https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/arthrofibrosis

      I can’t say for sure that’s what you have. The only way for sure is to go back to your doctor and get them to check it out. Hopefully all you need is some specific physiotherapy exercises to relieve some of the stiffness.

      I hope this helps.

      Dan

  3. I didn’t realize icing was such an important factor to remember in the recovery process. My wife is getting a knee surgery in a few days and we want to limit the mistakes we make. She needs to recover quickly so she can get her life back on track.

    1. Hi Trevor – Thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, it’s definitely crucial and one step that a lot of people tend to skip for some reason. I hope that everything goes well with your wife’s surgery and that she has a quick recovery. Take care.

  4. 13 weeks after surgery and still struggling greatly to bend straight my knee , had been having physio twice a week , this has stopped due to lock down.Physio informed me that I was unlucky small percentage of people have the difficulty I am experiencing.feel lost not sure am not doing enough or to much

    1. Hi Julie – I’m really sorry for the late reply, and I’m sorry that you are going through a rough time. Have you tried getting in touch with your physiotherapist to see if he/she could do online video therapy sessions? Apparently a lot of them have been doing that to help out their patients during this time. If not, maybe you can find out that does.

      Also, see below for a great support group on Facebook that I recommend to a lot of people. Just regular folks having a tough time with the recovery process after knee surgery.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/kneesurgerysupport

  5. I just had meniscus and acl repair done last week and I have no one to help me at home. The friend I had that was supposed to help told me I needed to learn to do things on my own, which is just plain cruel. I tried then to get home health care but I’m being ignored by everyone I reach out to. So, I’m alone and I have to take care of myself and my cat. I’m on my feet all day everyday. I have little choice. It’s either that or let my apt go to hell and me and my cat starve to death. Also, I live on the third floor of an apt building and have to go up and down the stairs every single day. I’m in so much pain that I hyperventilate sometimes. I’m past the point of receiving pain meds and I also have severe bruising and swelling. I feel like I am in hell and I regret having this surgery. If this doesn’t get better soon I don’t know what will happen to me. I can’t take care of my knee and also not have any help. Hobbling to the bus to get to the pharmacy. Hobbling to the closest convenience store for food. And being alone 24 hours a day for so much time. I feel like I’m in prison. Except it’s prison with severe pain. What can I do to keep from making recovery take longer? How am I supposed to survive this alone? Why is this happening to me??

    1. Hi Kate – I’m sorry for not responding sooner… been traveling the last 2 days. I’m really sorry to hear that you are in pain and that you have to deal with this alone. It can’t be easy. One thing that might help is to talk to other people online about what you are going through. Here are some great forums on-line:

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/kneesurgerysupport
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/jointreplacementsupport

      If you aren’t comfortable talking to them, you can just read their stories. I think it will help.

      Also, to avoid making the recovery longer, make sure you are keeping the swelling down by icing it and that you are following the recovery plan they gave you, especially the exercises, at the right time. It’s crucial.

      I hope this helps.

      Take care.

      Dan

    2. Omg I can’t imagine not having help the first 3 weeks. I’ve had back fusion, hip replacement, which btw was so easy, and 2 total knee replacements. I’m 57. I feel so bad that you’re alone. Find some chat groups. My first knee was different from my second which I had 8 weeks apart. So I’m not healed all the way but wanted to just get it over with. So here’s some hope. After 2 to 3 weeks you start noticing really fast healing. It’s literally over night. Pt is so important. They will push you past what you would do alone. I’m here if ya need to chat !

  6. I had knee surgery a year ago there was some improvement but pain became chronic and disruptive especially during the night loss of sleep decreased my quality of life had to have knee revision surgery one month ago am still having pain with knee bend to straighten again especially at night in bed I must move my knee while asleep what is happening

    1. Hi – I’m sorry to hear that you are having a rough time. It’s possible that your knee moves a lot at night. Have you thought about getting a knee surgery pillow? (Something like this: https://amzn.to/3b5el9D). It may help stabilize your knee. Also, if you are having difficulties with bending/straightening your knee, then I would follow-up with a physiotherapist to give you the right exercises and treatment to get the mobility back.

      I hope this helps.

      Dan

  7. I had my surgery over 9 weeks ago and I am so much pain. Doctors are trying to get me off of pain pills. But how can that happen when your in pain. Sleeping is an issue also. 2 hours a night. Then naps In my chair. Was doing therapy 3 times a week for the first 4 weeks then insurance changed all that and only allowed 5 more sessions after that. I bought 8 sessions for water therapy on my own which is helpful but probably not enough. Hurts so bad to bend the knee the way its suppose to. I ice it alot walk alittel.but don’t know what else to do.

    1. Hi Pam – I’m really sorry to hear that you are in so much pain. Try talking to your physical therapist to see if they can give you a program that you can continue at home, after the sessions are done. More and more people are signing up for aqua therapy these days because it’s a great way to move around, with a lot less pressure on the joints. It should help.

      If you are struggling to get through it, I highly recommend that you follow some of the Facebook forums I posted in this comment section. It’s a lot of people that are in a similar situation as you are and it may help to talk to others to see what they are doing to manage the pain.

      I hope this helps.

      Dan

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