Discharge Instructions: Total Knee Replacement

Walk 4 – 5 times a day, increasing distance each time. Walking is your most important exercise! (Remember your rest periods in bed with leg elevation.

Bend and straighten your knee “a thousand times a day”. It is extremely important to work on your knee motion.

Do not sit for long periods of time (no more than 30 minutes at a time, 4-5 times per day).

When not ambulating, you should be lying down with legs elevated to prevent swelling, doing exercises to prevent DVT.

Continue bed rest with leg elevation for 2 hours twice a day, as long as there is swelling of the leg.

DO NOT place pillows behind your knee. Rather, place pillows under your ankle for elevation.

General Precautions

If you feel very weak and/or unsteady, continue using a walker, crutches or a cane.Whenever you stand or sit, make sure you hold onto the bed or chair.

Never hold onto the walker to stand up or sit down.

Use a cane as soon as possible, holding it in the hand opposite the operated knee.

Continue using a cane for all walking as long as there is a limp.

When going up stairs, lead with the unoperated leg, and when coming down, lead with your operated leg.

If you are afraid of going up and down stairs, you may use a sitting position to go up and down.

Limit your stair climbing to only when necessary. Do not use stair climbing as an exercise.


You may go for short rides or to a restaurant 7-10 days after discharge from the hospital.

No extended car trips for 5 weeks.

You may drive approximately 2-3 weeks after discharge if you have good control of your leg, if your family is not afraid of driving with you and if you do not have any other medical conditions that may prevent you from driving (check with your family physician).

Before driving in open traffic, test your driving skills in a large empty parking lot.

Blood Clot Prevention

Walking frequently, not sitting for long periods of time, elevation of your legs, and performing “ankle pumps” are all ways to prevent the formation of blood clots.

You have been prescribed medication to help prevent blood clots. You should continue this medication as directed.


While lying on your back, slide your operative heel toward you and extend.

Push your operative knee down to the mattress so that the back of your knee touches. Hold, Release, Repeat.

Sitting in a chair, draw your operative foot underneath you, keeping your foot flat.

Continue to flex both feet up and down at the ankles (“ankle pumps”).


Staples/sutures should be removed 2 weeks after surgery by the visiting nurse or rehab facility staff.

Call your Doctor to make an appointment for a 4-week post-op check-up. Ask for X-rays to be taken at this visit.

Call your Doctor if there are any unusual symptoms such as severe pain, fever, chills, wound drainage, etc.