In the weeks after total knee replacement surgery — also known as total knee arthroplasty (TKA) — you will likely be eager to get back behind the wheel. After all, no one really likes relying on friends, family members or public transportation. Driving will make it easier to get back to your regular work, social and recreational activities.
So when can you drive after total knee replacement?
Driving After Total Left Knee Replacement
If you are scheduled for a left knee arthroplasty, you may be able to drive again as soon as a week or two after surgery.
If your vehicle has standard transmission, you’ll need to wait longer — your left leg won’t be in any shape to operate the clutch for several more weeks. And even if you do drive an automatic, you’ll need to wait to drive until you’re no longer taking narcotic medication. Driving with narcotics in your system is not safe, as the drugs affect both your mental ability and your reaction time.
Driving After Total Right Knee Replacement
With a right knee replacement, driving isn’t usually recommended until at least four weeks after surgery. Depending on how your TKA recovery goes, you may need to wait six to eight weeks before driving.
As with a left knee arthroplasty, however, never get behind the wheel after right knee surgery if you are still on narcotic medication.
When Will it Be Safe for You to Drive?
The only person who can tell you exactly when you can drive again is your orthopedic surgeon. When you go for follow-up appointments after TKA surgery, you can ask how soon it will be before it is safe for you to drive.
In addition, if you’re using a walker or other assistive device, or if walking long distances is a challenge after knee arthroplasty, you may want to ask for a disabled parking placard.
Advice on Driving After Total Knee Replacement
When you get the green light from your orthopedic surgeon, drive with extra caution. Reaction times and braking forces can be diminished for several months following total knee arthroplasty, changing your ability to drive as you did before surgery.
If you experience any pain while driving or have difficulty braking, let someone else take the wheel. Your joint probably needs more time to heal.
Do you have more questions about recovering from total knee arthroplasty? Dr. Trevor H. Magee at Comprehensive Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, one of Utah’s leading experts in knee and hip replacement procedures, can provide expert advice on the right steps to take for a smoother, easier surgery recovery.
For more information, contact one of our convenient northern Utah offices and schedule a consultation for a total knee replacement with Dr. Magee today.