An estimated 800,000 knee replacements are conducted each year in the United States. Many people receive knee replacements for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and any other conditions that may hinder the ability to move comfortably during daily activities. This type of surgery can cause pain in the knees but also in related areas, like the shins. Those who undergo knee replacements often report having trouble getting into cars and driving. It may be uncomfortable or painful to do so and can take several weeks for patients to begin to feel comfortable operating their vehicles.
How can knee replacements affect driving?
Knee replacement surgery can leave you unable to operate a car or other machinery for weeks. Taking the prescribed amount of time to heal and rest your new knee before getting back into the car is essential. Some of the ways that your driving ability may be affected after surgery are listed below:.
- Negatively impacted reaction time — Getting a knee replacement can negatively impact your ability to react to environmental factors that may require braking or moving out of the way of other vehicles on the road. It can cause significant delays in reaction time, which is dangerous while driving.
- Negatively affected braking force — Knee replacement surgeries can negatively affect the amount of force applied to the brakes when braking your vehicle. This is also dangerous while driving on the road.
- Increased amounts of pain while driving — Many patients report experiencing increased pain while in their cars. It can become unpleasant and uncomfortable to sit in a confined space with the knees bent for the periods of time it requires to get from one destination to another.
- Difficulty entering or exiting a vehicle — Many patients also report experiencing difficulty entering or exiting their vehicles after knee replacement surgery. Increased pain can make it harder to climb in and out of the cramped seats in a vehicle.
What are some tips that can make driving after a knee replacement easier?
Despite the difficulties that may exist immediately after getting knee replacement surgery, with plenty of healing time and after taking active measures, you can potentially ease the pain or discomfort you might feel while driving. Below are some of the things you can do to make driving a little easier after a knee replacement.
- Plan out stops to rest and stretch — Rest stops can be a good source of relief for many knee replacement patients. If you’re planning on driving long distances, make sure to plan out places for you to get out and stretch your knee.
- Push your seat back a little further — Moving your seat back a little more than normal can help give your legs and knees some room to stretch out.
- Try not to rely on strong pain meds while driving — When you take pain medication to help you drive more comfortably, you put yourself at risk of injuring yourself in an accident and causing more serious complications to your knee. It’s best to try driving without pain medication if you can. Most strong pain medications also require that those taking the medication do not operate heavy machinery.
- See a physical therapist — Going to a physical therapist’s clinic can be extremely beneficial for knee replacement patients. Physical therapists are experts in rehabilitating patients who have undergone surgery and can help improve strength and mobility. They can help improve the range of motion by minimizing stiffness and even reducing pain and discomfort. Knee replacement patients can receive the personalized care they need to be able to confidently and comfortably get back on the roads. Physical therapy sessions are beneficial for those hoping for mobility regarding their knees and getting from destination to destination.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for driving after knee replacement
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address driving after knee replacement. Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.