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 Getting Back to Normal

Man working in Yard

If your surgery and recovery has gone well, you should be able to do most of your everyday activities after about three months. Here are some things to keep in mind, and some tips to help you get back to normal as quickly and safely as possible.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about what you can expect as part of your recovery and getting back to normal.


Woman smiling at wheel of carDo not drive until your surgeon tells you that you are ready. This will likely be around six to eight weeks after your surgery. If you choose to drive against your doctor’s recommendation, you will not be covered by your car insurance.

There are a number of factors that impact your ability to drive, such as the use of prescription pain medicine, the precautions your surgeon requires you to follow, and feeling stiff or in pain. These factors can lead to slower reaction times and can affect your concentration when driving.

You will be allowed to travel as a passenger for short distances, as long as you feel comfortable. Hip replacement patients should minimize travel in car even as a passanger. Remember to move your leg often and do ankle pumping exercises while riding in a car! To view the steps and a video clip on how to get in and out of a car after your joint replacement surgery, see Getting In and Out of a Car.

Return to Work

When can I go back to work?

Businesswoman talking on phoneWhen you can return to work depends on what types of tasks you need to perform at your job as well as the physical layout of your work environment. Most patients take six to eight weeks off after joint replacement surgery. If you have had hip replacement surgery, you may need to change your work environment to deal with the movement restrictions on your hip. Ask your surgeon when it is a good time to return to work!


When can I travel?

You should wait until you have met with your surgeon two to six weeks after your surgery before you travel by air. Your surgeon will tell you if you are ready to fly.

Watching arrivals at airportWhen you are ready to travel by air, make sure to plan ahead to give yourself some extra time. Your new hip or knee joint may set off metal detectors at airport security. You can ask your surgeon for a card that shows that you have had recent hip or knee surgery, otherwise you may be asked to show your surgical scar.

For flights longer than one and a half hours try to get an aisle seat so that you may  get up and walk around during the flight. When you are on the plane, do foot-pumping exercises every half hour to keep the blood moving and help reduce the risk of blood clots.  You may be advised to wear compression stockings to further reduce the risk.

Staying Active (Sports and Leisure)

What sports and leisure activities can I resume, and when?

When you can start to resume your sports and leisure activities depends on your physical condition and the difficulty of the activity. When in doubt, ask your doctor!

Activities you may resume right away:

Family stroll Walking– Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask your doctor about walking outside during winter months to make sure that you don’t slip and hurt your new knee or hip.


Senior woman swimming Swimming - You may be able to swim or do exercises in the pool if your incision has healed, and if you have access to a pool with a handrail and stair entry, before the end of the six week recovery period. Only do the flutter kick. Please ensure you wear proper non-slip footwear.

Activities you may resume after six weeks or sooner:

Woman on stationary bike Indoor Cycling (on a stationary bike).



Activities you may resume after three months or sooner:

  • Gardening
  • Outdoor cycling
  • Curling
  • Golfing

Ask your surgeon about these activities after three months: 

Man with tennis racket
  • Cross country skiing
  • Bowling
  • Tennis
  • Weight lifting (lower body)

Ask your surgeon about these activities after six months: 

Yoga class
  • Horseback riding
  • Yoga
  • Alpine skiing


High-risk activities that are NEVER permitted:

  • Jogging or running
  • Squash or racquetball

These lists only include some of the more common sport and leisure activities. Please ask your surgeon if you are interested in resuming an activity that isn’t listed. 

Sexual Activities

Wife kissing husband on cheekMost patients are able to resume safe and enjoyable sexual activities after joint replacement surgery. In fact, many patients who suffered from stiffness and pain during sex before surgery find that they have less pain and more mobility after surgery.

However, it is generally recommended to wait about six weeks after surgery before resuming sexual intercourse. This gives your incision and muscles time to properly heal.

What sexual positions are safe and comfortable for me?

When choosing sexual position, let pain be your guide. Pick positions that feel the most comfortable and pain-free.

For knee surgery patients, positions where you are lying on your back may be the most comfortable to start with.

For hip surgery patients, be sure to avoid anything that forces you to move or rotate your hips too much. Think about the safety precautions your health care team has told you to take – if they don’t work with your normal positions, you may need to try different positions until you are fully recovered.

Dental Work

Senior getting dental checkupIt is important to let your dentist know about your joint replacement surgery. Bacteria from an infection in your mouth can travel through the bloodstream to your new joint and cause an infection.

We recommend that you have any dental (e.g. cleaning or fillings) or gum work done before your joint replacement surgery.

NOTE: For up to two years after your joint replacement, you may need antibiotics before dental work or other surgeries. Talk to your surgeon to find out what works for you.