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Life in Motion

Getting Back to Activities Following Joint Replacement

Joint Health

If you are considering joint replacement surgery, or if you have just undergone a procedure, you may be wondering when you will be able to get back to certain activities. Although it is important to stay active after your surgery, remember to take is slow and try not to do too much too soon.

Getting Back on Your Feet

Follow your doctors instructions about using a cane, walker, or crutches. Depending on the type of joint replacement you have undergone and the technique used by your doctor, full weight bearing may be allowed immediately or you may be advised to wait several days or weeks.

Expectations: During the first couple weeks, it is a good idea to take midday naps or have some midday down time in order to make it through the day without overdoing it. This is often needed to help prevent late day soreness. Icing and elevating during down time and at the end of the day will also help with swelling and soreness.

Remember that you just had major surgery, and while pain may be well controlled and minimal, it does not mean you are ready and cleared to return to previous activities. A gradual/graded return to activities is recommended. Your doctor will most likely recommend Physical Therapy where you will work on getting the motion, strength, stability and balance needed to return to activities.

Returning to certain activities such as driving may be restricted by pain medications prescribed after your surgery.

Returning to Work

When you are able to return to work is dependent on your general health and the activity level your job requires. If you are in good health and have a relatively sedentary job, you can typically expect to be out of work for 4-6 weeks. In a more physical job, you may need up to 3 months to recover.

Sports and Exercise

Your doctor will let you know when you are able to return to the activities you enjoy. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Walk as much as you would like, but remember that walking is no substitute for the exercises prescribed by your doctor and physical therapist.
  • Swimming is a great low-impact activity after joint replacement
  • In general, lower impact fitness activities such as golfing, bicycling, and light/doubles tennis, put less stress on your joints and are preferable over high-impact activities such as jogging, racquetball and skiing.

Learn more about joint replacement surgery.

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