Driving after Knee Replacement

Driving after Knee Replacement
Driving after Knee Replacement

A common question from patients after knee replacement is “When can I drive again?” Most patients are eager to regain the ability to drive, and get out of the house to enjoy their everyday activities, or simply get back to work and out of the house.

Driving restrictions after joint replacement is a temporary precaution necessary for the safety of each patient and their loved ones. Here are a few guidelines as to how soon after a total knee replacement surgery you can expect to get behind the wheel:

  • Do not drive while still on narcotic medication. Narcotic pain medication can negatively affect your mental alertness and reaction time.
  • With a left total knee replacement, you may be able to drive an automatic transmission vehicle in as little as two weeks once off the medication, if approved by your provider.
  • Driving is not recommended for a right total knee replacement for at least four weeks or longer. The green light to drive depends on how soon you regain your pre-surgical reflexes and muscle strength.

Take extra precautions when approaching a green light, as your breaking speed may be altered for several weeks after the surgery. Pain in the knee during or after driving can mean that you need more time to recover. Talk with your surgeon if you are experiencing pain while driving.

Driving with a new knee will be different, and readjusting the seat and steering wheel to new positions should be considered. Patients can practice getting in and out of a car during physical therapy. The therapist can show you proper ways to get in and out of your car without flexing the joint or bumping the knee.

Most patients can get back to driving between 2–6 weeks after surgery. However, each person’s recovery is different, so check with your surgeon before getting behind the wheel again.

AUTHOR: Natham Hammel, MD is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement in Southern California, serving the Greater San Diego area.

  •  The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University - Home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College
  • The Naval Medical Center
  • University of Miami Hospital

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Recovering at home means leaving the hospital setting and getting to recuperate in the comfort of your home. You will progress better in a familiar home environment where you are more likely to receive good care and a good night’s sleep.

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  • I had a hip replacement surgery done last September, 2017. The results have been excellent. All pain in right hip and leg is gone. It hasn't been a full year and I feel like I'm fully recovered. Very, very satisfied...

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