Total Joint Replacement and Recovery

Total Joint Replacement and Recovery

A Total Hip Replacement (THA) and/or Total Knee Replacement (TKA) involves the removal of the affected ball and socket joint, with a new joint inserted to replace the old one. Maintaining strength and functionality before surgery is crucial, and understanding the recovery process afterward is equally important.

Rehabilitation post-total joint replacement, whether conducted in a clinic or monitored consistently at home, is proven to be beneficial (L. Snell et al., 2018). Many patients find it advantageous to complete the initial 4-8 weeks of rehabilitation under the direct guidance of a therapist. As progress is made, transitioning to a home program with fewer in-person sessions becomes suitable for most individuals. Regardless of the chosen rehabilitation approach, it is a vital component for ensuring success after the joint replacement procedure.

What to Expect Post-Surgery

0 – 2 weeks

Recovering from the surgery. Most patients remain off work during this period. More physical occupations could take 3-4 months to return to work.

Immediately after surgery, patients experience relief from joint pain, but rehabilitation is recommended to continue the healing and recovery process. Sessions with a certified athletic therapist, physiotherapist, or kinesiologist should be prioritized during the initial months. Emphasis is on pain management, regaining range of motion, and normalizing gait with walking aids.

2-6 weeks

Continued focus on pain management and range of motion. Gradual introduction of strength training following total joint guidelines.

6 weeks – 3 months

Progression of strength training tailored to individual needs. Gradual integration of increased activities.

A full-body approach is emphasized, recognizing the importance of core and upper body strength in improving lower body function. Exercise progression is individualized, considering tolerance and healing timelines. 

Stationary bikes may be introduced, and swimming or water walking can be considered if the wound is well healed and the surgeon has provided clearance.

3 – 6 months

Patients may begin returning to activities such as golfing. Strength improvement, mobility maintenance, and enhancing function for daily activities are ongoing priorities.

This is the stage some patients may return to chipping and putting in golf and progressively build up to a full game. This is one of the most common recreational activities our patients have a goal to return to.


6 -12 months

Continued focus on building strength gains made with a therapist or independently. Integration of strength gains into functional activities like longer walks, cross-country skiing, and hiking.

In General:

In general:

  • Kneeling on the affected knee is allowed for several minutes, however may still have some discomfort. 
  • To extend the lifespan of your new joint we encourage patients to avoid higher impact activities. These may include running, aggressive sports with fast directional changes or risk of falls.


A joint replacement is not the implant of a new healthy hip or knee. Your artificial joint will come with some limitations to its functionality. However, for most patients the relief from pain allows them to do most activities they would like to get back to.


Please note: The pace of recovery is often affected by a patient’s physical condition going into surgery. This is why we recommend putting emphasis on strength training prior to surgery. We can support you in building a program that keeps you moving below your level of aggravation.


Overall goals of rehabilitation/strength program:

  • Increased mobility and function
  • Progress beyond absence of joint pain
  • Progress strength and stability
  • Participate in more activities with your new stable joint
  • Manage and improve any ongoing pain


Return to Activity


Return to work is dependent on each individual, their job and how they progress. This is something to be discussed with your surgeon as this can vary. Most people can expect to return to work sooner if they have a less physically demanding career. A gradual return to work should be planned regardless. 


Return to activity will depend on the level of activity as well. Most patients return to activities after approximately 6 months.


  1. Snell et al. (2018), PubMed.