Driving After A Total Knee Replacement

Hi everyone. After receiving some requests regarding driving after a total knee replacement (tkr), I thought a post here would be appropriate…

The standard literature us patients are given upon preparing for a tkr recommends not driving until at least 6 weeks after surgery. I had no choice but to do it sooner, however.

The reason being is that I needed to go to physical therapy and didn’t want to impose upon anyone for a  lift. Besides, I like to drive and wanted to experiment – as long as I didn’t harm myself.

Well, I can definitely see how six weeks is an appropriate time frame if the leg you use for the accelerator is the one that had a total knee replacement.

For instance, if your bionic knee is on your right leg, you’re going to have difficulty driving. There just won’t be enough flexibility to operate the accelerator, in my opinion.

However, my bionic knee is on my left leg. I could operate the accelerator with no problem. There were other problems (concerns) as mentioned below.

If my car was clutch-operated, there was no way I could have driven it within six weeks. Maybe after about 4-6 weeks, but even then there would have been extreme discomfort. Hey, driving a clutch might be another good recuperation exercise. 😉

My car has an automatic transmission. I had a problem,   with the following while driving after a total knee replacement. You may be the same:

  • Getting in and out of the car. Extreme caution had to be used to prevent any turning of the foot, hitting of the leg, and unnecessary bending of the leg.

  • Seat adjustment. I needed to put my seat back as far as I could to get in and out my vehicle properly. Nine months later, I still need to do this sometimes.

  • Sitting comfortably. This was painful. I needed to elevate my foot to alleviate some of the knee pain.

  • Time involved. It definitely is not a quick process.  The entire process is much slower than typical.

There were other areas that caused concern, but the above four were the most noticeable. No complaints, just stating facts. 🙂

Hope this helps others going through the same thing.

Find this tkr blog post about driving after a total knee replacement interesting? Kindly share…Thanks!

AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other physicality concerns.

This healthline.com and WEGO Health award-winning site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various physicalities for over 40+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.

19 thoughts on “Driving After A Total Knee Replacement”

  1. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and am finding It really helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to present one thing back and help others like you helped me.

  2. Thank you for another fantastic article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such an ideally presented way? I have a presentation next week, and I have been searching for such info.

  3. Well, this is downright ridiculous! Two weeks and a day after my (right knee) surgery I am able to easily get into the driver’s seat and effortlessly and swiftly move my foot from accelerator to brake. The pedals are so close and so short in travel that I never have to lift my heel. Don’t think that I ever did, even prior to the surgery. It’s all ankle action, and said ankle works fine. The car is a little Honda Fit.

    I can’t think of any rational reason to adhere to an ironclad four-week (or six-week) rule. Considering my wife’s busy schedule, it will sure simplify our life if I don’t need chauffeuring. So here goes…

  4. Glad you’re doing so well, John! That’s great to hear. And..it gives us a better understanding about how everyone is different, yet the same.

  5. Thank you! I’m having left tkr, and they’re telling me 3 months no driving. As the only driver in our family, that was almost enough to make me call off surgery. If I have to go to pt, I need to drive. I hope 4 weeks works for me.

  6. I started driving 6 weeks post TKR. Getting into the car was hard but pushing the seat all the way back was workable. I found my leg got super tired and moving leg from gas to brake was painful after driving for a bit. The fatigue of the leg was the worst.

  7. Has anyone who has said they drove quickly after TKR done so on the advice of their doctor? Sure you CAN drive and text, but should you? NO! Same with TKR. Did it ever occur to you that just st because you can doesn’t mean you should. Multiple doctors have told me minimum of 6 weeks if it is the right knee. I was able to drive 2+ weeks after my left knee. Do not be stupid.

  8. Anybody here have any info on driving after bilateral TKR? Car will be automatic small SUV, relatively high so it is easier to get in and out of.

  9. Had a right knee replacement nine months ago . Lately I have been having troubles ten minutes with my leg going dead . I have to stop and walk around . The problem is I cannot move my leg to the brake . I have to lift the leg with my hand . Anyone else having these concerns .

  10. On April 24, 2007 I had a left tkr. I did the post tkr exercises for 3 months prior to my surgery. When I came to after the anesthesia my dr said you can drive when you are not on narcotics, you have control of your knee and you can get into and out of the car. The first two were easy as I did not have pain so I did not need the pain meds. I had control of my left leg so that was easy. It took me 3 days to figure out how to get into the car. I practiced an hour a day for those 3 days. So the 4th day after surgery I was out and about in the car.
    On March 5, 2018 I will have my right knee done. I only have 2 and a half weeks before I get my surgery so I have just a very short time for pre op exercises. When I drive now I am practicing not moving my leg from the gas to the brake but use my ankles to move my foot from one pedal to the next. Hopefully I will be able to drive two weeks after surgery as we live in a rural area and it is 7 to 10 miles for a friend to come help take us back those 10 miles to go to pt or dr.

  11. Thanks for posting your tkr driving comment, Paul. I admire your practicing. 🙂 Certainly, others can benefit from your insight. Best of luck with your upcoming tkr. Keep in touch!

  12. It is March 15th and I drove 10 miles today to the grocery store. What I did was to start practicing prior to my tkr. When I came home from the hospital I got into the car to see if I could go from gas to break and back. It was funny my foot slipped off of each pedal faster than I could put my foot on it.

    On the 3rd day after my surgery I did it again and all went well. So I started the car and drove up and down the driveway. Not a good idea, it took me a lot of effort to use the brake so that was stopped. On day 10, I decided to try it all again. My leg strength is getting better and I was looking for good results. It went so well I wanted to road test my new knee.

    After a little practice in the driveway I hit the road. I drove a 2 mile route and drove it for 4 rounds. All went well. They say look for the kid and see if you can react. I asked my wife to yell kid when she was ready to so I can see how I would react. A couple miles later she yelled deer and I slammed on the breaks and she got an evil grin and said u passed.

  13. Good story, Paul. 🙂 Keep up the great work and stay in touch. I’m certain your insight can help others going through the same thing.
    Marie (aka Booktoots)

  14. I am scheduled for TKR soon for my left knee. I drive a cross-over Kia Rondo, which allows me to enter and leave my car seat by simply slipping onto the seat, without having to raise my body up to get onto the seat or raise my body up from getting up from a regular vehicles seat, putting more pressure on the knee, me thinks.
    Anyway after reading some comments about getting into a car I need to ask this:
    – When you push the carseat back to get into the vehicle are you driving it in the same position. Cuz if you are then I will never reach the pedals, due to a big belly – I am obese. My surgeon says he has done operations on people 450 lbs which I am not thank goodness. Anyway I have not found any information on just how the leg looks once you leave the hospital – just how much of a bend is there for folks? I live in a rural area and must drive when doc says ok. Thank you.

  15. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your tkr comment about driving. In my case, no I didn’t drive with the seat all the way back.
    I have written about a tkr leg immediately after surgery throughout my site. Take some time to peruse my site for more insight.
    In my case, I was not discharged from physical therapy until I could reach a 90-degree bend.
    Hope this helps..

  16. Hi Maureen,
    I also left you a private email response.
    Thanks for visiting my site and taking the time to leave your tkr driving comment. Good insight.
    I wonder why the difference? Does your doctor know whether you drive a stick or automatic? Did you have a tkr done on both legs? Just curious…Also, is that set in stone?
    Keep in touch and good luck!

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