From Pickleball to Airport Security: What to Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery

Posted on 
March 13, 2024

If you suffer from severe knee arthritis that doesn’t respond to non-operative treatments, you may be considering knee replacement surgery. The procedure is a good option for patients with daily pain and limitations, as it’s reliable at relieving pain and restoring function.

“Modern knee replacement is truly an amazing procedure,” says Dr. Joseph Maratt, knee replacement surgeon at Forté. “The performance of today’s implants is much closer to feeling like your own knee than the implants of the past.”

As you consider your next steps, you may be wondering what to expect from a new knee. Dr. Maratt answers some of the most common questions he receives about life after knee replacement surgery.

Will I be taller after knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery doesn’t change your height. At most, it can give you a few millimeters. For example, knee arthritis can cause a patient to develop a bowed leg. While knee replacement surgery can correct the bow, it’s unlikely to lead to any noticeable change in the length of your leg.

Will I be able to climb the stairs to my second-story bedroom?

Most patients do not have to change their sleeping arrangements! Whether you plan to have an outpatient surgery or stay overnight, our team will ensure you’re standing, walking and moving around a few hours after surgery. As part of this early recovery process, a physical therapist will help you learn to navigate stairs. You probably won’t want to climb up and down them 10 times a day, but if your goal is to come down in the morning and go up in the evening, you’ll be fine.

Will I be able to kneel on the floor after surgery?

It’s perfectly safe to kneel on the floor after knee replacement surgery. Will you like it? Not necessarily.

There is a desensitizing program I recommend to my patients. For example, you start by kneeling on a mattress for ten minutes a day for a week and then progress to a slightly firmer surface, such as a couch cushion. Over six weeks, you’ll work your way to kneeling on a yoga mat. The last step is to try to kneel on a hard surface, but most patients don’t like it. Most generally, you’ll be able to tolerate kneeling on soft surfaces.

Will I be able to play pickleball again?

Not to worry, you should be able to play pickleball around four months after surgery. We don’t recommend becoming an ultra-marathoner, but you can have a mostly unrestricted return to sports and activities. My best advice is to ease back into physical activity to help prevent a setback due to deconditioning.

Will my new implant set off airport security metal detectors?

Yes, your implant will set off airport security detectors, but you don’t need to worry about obtaining a card or note from your physician before traveling. Simply tell the TSA officer you had a knee replacement prior to your airport screening. Since the TSA has policies and procedures for devices such as pacemakers and implants, they will be able to adjust accordingly, and off you’ll go.

Is there an age limit to have knee replacement surgery? How old is too old?

There is no “too old” for knee replacement surgery. I’ve seen 85-year-old patients in the clinic who don’t have a single thing filled out on their form other than some knee pain. That person sometimes asks, “Should I have surgery now or wait until next year?” It can be tricky, but there’s no reason to wait other than avoiding the standard risks. So, I would say to have surgery when you feel as though you need it.

There also isn’t really a “too young.” I try to get my younger patients to maximize their non-operative options and make some acceptable lifestyle changes before turning to surgery. If you are in your late 40s or 50s, it’s fine, but you’ll probably have a revision at some point in your lifetime. I have done knee replacements on patients in their 20s and 30s, but thankfully, those cases are rare.

Schedule a Consultation

Our hip and knee replacement specialists, Dr. Kevin Condict, Dr. John Hur, Dr. Joseph Maratt and Dr. Lucian Warth perform hundreds of joint replacement surgeries each year using the latest technologies and techniques to get you the best results and fastest recovery. To schedule a consultation, visit or call 317.817.1200.

You can also read more from Dr. Maratt as he shares some of the benefits of computer-assisted knee replacement surgery.

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