Care After Knee or Hip Replacements: Precautions You Should Take

“Life after total joint replacement of a knee or hip can be great – if you follow your therapy to regain strength and balance and take some precautions,” says McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Barry Clark, DO. “The precautions are largely meant to avoid stressing your new joint until healing and recovery are well on their way.”

Before you leave the HOSPITAL you should be able to get out of bed, go to the bathroom, walk with a cane or walker and do the exercises prescribed for you. If you can’t do any of these on your own, tell your surgeon or therapist.

At home:

  • Carry hot liquids in a covered container, in case you stumble or lose your balance.
  • Slide objects on the kitchen counter rather than trying to lift them.
  • Remove tripping hazards, such as rugs and cords.
  • Use a reaching device for objects that are too high or too low.

After a Knee Replacement:

  • Bend your knee – but do it gently — and keep doing it.
  • DON’T sit without moving for more than 45-minutes.
  • When rising from a chair, slip to the front of the seat. Then, use the chair arms as leverage to rise to standing.
  • When getting dressed, put your pants or pantyhose first on the leg with the new knee.
  • On stairs: Going up, lead with the nonsurgical leg first. Going down, lead with the leg that was operated on. DON’T be afraid to take one step at a time, at least, for a while.
  • When sleeping, lie flat on your back. DON’T put a pillow between your knees. It’s important to keep the knee straight when at rest.


  • When lying or sitting, DON’T cross your legs over each other at the knees or ankles.
  • When lying down, DON’T turn your leg inward. Keep you toes pointed directly at the ceiling. Or, when sleeping, lay on the side that did NOT have surgery.
  • When you’re sleeping, put a pillow between your legs.
  • DON’T bend forward to reach your feet.
  • DON’T swivel on the ball of your foot.
  • AVOID bending so that the angle made by your body and leg is no sharper angle than an “L.”
  • AVOID sitting with your knees together and feet apart.

If you have any further questions, contact your Orthopedic Specialist or physical therapist. They’ve handled hundreds, even thousands, of cases and can answer your question.

Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.

Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, National Institutes of Health, Arthritis Society of Canada, National Health Service (UK), American Occupational Therapy Association