How Long After Knee Replacement Can You Drive?

Driving After Total Knee Replacement Surgery —

A big issue on the minds of my knee replacement patients is when can they drive again.  This is extremely important for those who either have no other driving options or are the only driver in their family. The truth about your TKR is you will return to driving rather quickly.

how long after knee replacement can you drive

Getting back to driving your car or truck returns independence to you and allows you to rely less on outside help moving forward.  But how long after total knee replacement can you drive again you ask?

You can return to driving between 3-6 weeks after knee replacement depending on your surgeon’s preferences.  If you had your right knee replaced you may want to wait a little longer seeing the right leg is involved in driving.  Only after you are fully off of any narcotic pain medication will your surgeon clear you for driving.

Driving After Right Knee Replacement

As mentioned before, those who have gotten their right knee replaced have a little more to think about in terms of returning to driving.  The action of picking your right leg or foot off the brake and accelerator pedals can be a bit awkward initially.  You may even notice some stiffness or mild discomfort in the knee when first returning to driving.

With a right TKR, you may want to wait in the 4-6 week range to return to driving to avoid any issues.  This is unless driving is something you absolutely need to get back to doing to help your family situation out.

If you are still in moderate to high pain in this 3-6 week range I suggest my patients against return to driving until all symptoms decrease to normal levels.  High pain levels in the knee would indicate you are still in the swelling and inflammation stage.  Driving would not be a safe activity to return to at this stage after knee replacement.

How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Return To Driving After Knee Replacement?

A suggestion to all of my knee replacement patients is to attempt their return to driving in a safe manner.  By this I mean don’t just get behind the wheel again and assume you are ready to drive normally once again.

The safest manner is to have someone else drive you to an open parking lot for example an empty school or church parking lot.  Once there, switch drivers and you can now practice normal driving tasks such as quick stops and simple braking and accelerating motions.

If you are able to do all of the normal movements associated with driving relatively pain free then you are ready to get back on the street again.  Start with short drives of under 5 minutes and work your way up to longer highway and distance driving afterwards.

Don’t forget, if you’re driving somewhere likely you will be getting out of the car and doing some task like walking or bending.  There’s a good chance you might be a little sore or stiff after so don’t assume you can just return to normal daily activities.

Truck Driving After Knee Replacement

Truck driving from an pure knee bending and movement standpoint is no different than getting back and driving a car.  The issue with returning to truck driving is the type of truck you are driving requires more physical exertion and effort to control.

driving truck after knee replacement

For pickup trucks and personal truck driving in town, there should not be any issue with regards to driving after knee replacement.  The issue with trucks would be the getting in and out and having to use a running board to step up and down.  For running boards you simply need to take the same up with the good leg, down with the bad leg strategy.

For 18 wheel and commercial trucks, controlling the vehicle may require some additional physical strength during turns and carrying heavier loads.  For this type of truck driving you may want to regain some additional knee strength before returning to full haul driving.  Waiting 3-4 months would be a best case strategy for return to full term long haul driving for work.

Again, getting into and out of 18 wheeler trucks will require a strategy as described above to make sure you don’t hurt your new knee.  Sitting prolonged in long haul trucks can also be a chore and you initially will not tolerate greater than 1-2 hours of driving at a time.

Can You Ride a Motorcycle After Knee Replacement?

More than likely you have searched this and are already riding your motorcycle because nothing is going to stop you from riding your bike again, right?  But the question is should you be riding your motorcycle after knee replacement and is it safe?

can i ride a motorcycle after knee replacement

The answer is yes, you can certainly ride your motorcycle again and generally most surgeons are fine with you doing so.  The thing you need to be aware of is that riding a motorcycle has many aspects that are generally not good for joints, especially the knee joint.

The first aspect is the general position of the leg and knees while sitting atop the bike.  While generally these are not extreme positions, if you have a low riding bike it can force you into knee flexion beyond 90 degrees.  Doing this too early can be painful on your new knee so I would suggest waiting 2-3 months until you try riding again.

The second part of the motorcycle is the vibration of the bike itself affecting your new knee.  If you search online you will find bike riders with artificial knees mentioning the vibration of the bike at times causing some discomfort.  Be aware of this and understand this could be an issue early on in your return to riding.

The final and most difficult aspect of riding your motorcycle again is the control required from your knee during standing as well and driving.  You need to have good strength in your surgical leg, I would suggest 90% of normal, to safely control your bike throughout the ride.

Returning to riding your motorcycle will come with time so be patient and make sure you don’t injure yourself in your rehab from surgery.

Final Thoughts on How Long After Knee Replacement Can You Drive

  • You Can Return To Driving A Car or Truck In The 3-6 Week Range After Knee Replacement Surgery
  • Right Knee Replacement Patients Should Wait An Additional Week or Two to Return to Driving
  • Return to Motorcycle Riding Should Wait 3 Months Until Proper Strength is Regained
About Jeffrey Roth MPT

Owner and operator of Roth Therapy Services in Pittsburgh, PA focusing on in home rehabilitation physical therapy services.


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