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How Far Should Someone Walk After Knee Replacement Surgery?

By Rebecca Boardman ; Updated July 27, 2017

Knee replacement surgery is one of the largest, most complicated orthopedic surgeries you can have. It involves the removal of bone and the insertion of prosthetic devices. Muscle, tendon and sinew are rearranged and reattached. After the body recovers, many patients wonder how much of their old lives they can reclaim. They will be fearful that they may not be able to do normal activities. One of the most common concerns is how far to walk as recovery is taking place.

The Surgery

Begin by understanding the surgery. Major in all respects, knee replacement surgery involves removal of large sections of bone and insertion of prosthetic pieces into the body. The trauma is great, and the recovery is long. There will be month of physical therapy, and the muscles surrounding the knee will have to be rebuilt and retaught. It will take time, effort and patience even to walk down the hallway. Therefore, before you think of heading out on that first post-surgical hike, get with your doctor and make sure your rehab has prepared you for the basics.

Baby Steps

Pace yourself. Do not attempt to do more than the simplest walking in the months following your surgery. Pay close attention how your leg and your knee feels. Often, the first sign of trouble is fatigue. This is the precursor to pain. Pain means to stop at all cost and go no further. You have just been through trauma to have your knee replaced. Pain means damage is occurring, and you need to stop whatever you are doing to avoid more damage. So start small, and work slowly to increase your distance and your levels.

No Set Distance

Understand that there is no set distance for a patient to walk or not to walk, once he has made a full recovery from knee replacement surgery. The distance will vary from patient to patient, depending on variable such as age, fitness, pain tolerance, strength, etc. There is no set rule. The only rule to remember is that you do not want to damage the joint that has been replaced, and close attention to the fatigue of the leg is your key to making sure you do not cause it damage. Slowly increase your distance, without causing pain, to build your muscle strength and endurance. At all costs, avoid stressing your new knee and causing damage.

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