After Knee Replacement Surgery

With appropriate follow-up care, knee replacements can last for 10–20 years. Continued healthy functioning of your knee replacement depends on your willingness to follow the instructions of your health care providers.

High impact activities such as running and jumping should be avoided. For general fitness, lower impact activities such as walking, swimming, golfing, dancing, and bicycling are recommended. Regular exercise is important to keep the muscles around the knee replacement strong. Patients should talk with their doctor or surgeon about an appropriate exercise routine. Kneeling may not be comfortable, but it is not necessarily harmful.

The risk for infection continues throughout life in patients who have undergone knee replacement. Patients should be sure to inform all of health care providers, including dental care providers, that the have a prosthetic knee. Preventive (prophylactic) antibiotics are often necessary before undergoing certain medical and dental procedures.

Prosthetic knee joints often include metal parts that may set off detectors in airports and courthouses. Your doctor may give you a card that states that you have a knee replacement, but this card will not get you through security without an additional inspection. Allow extra time to get through security (e.g., when traveling).

Continue to take extra care to avoid falls. Always hold handrails when using stairs. Go slowly and steadily and pay attention to every step you take. Talk with your doctor if you think you may need assistive aids in your home. A yearly exam with an orthopedic surgeon is recommended for monitoring the condition of knee replacements.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 11 Jan 2010

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015