Using Your Walker after Total Joint Replacement

Using Your Walker after Total Joint Replacement

 

As you recover and heal from joint replacement surgery, your new joint needs to be protected while it is healing. You will use an assistive device, such as a walker or cane, to aid you with walking after surgery. Your doctor and your physical therapist will instruct you in how much weight to put on your operative leg after surgery.

 

Standing with a walker

  1. Slide your hips forward to the edge of the bed, chair, or toilet seat. Keep your operative leg outstretched and your good leg beneath you on the floor.
  2. Use your arms to push down on the edge of the bed, chair arms, or toilet seat, and lift yourself up.
    Standing up with a walker steps 1 and 2
  3. Shift your weight onto your good leg and move your hands to the hand grips of the walker. Bring your operative leg back as you fully straighten your good leg.
  4. Do not pull yourself up with the walker because you may fall backwards.

Make sure you are steady and balanced before taking a step.

Standing up with walker steps 3 and 4

 

Walking with a walker

  1. Lift the walker and place it at a comfortable distance in front of you with all of its legs on the floor. This distance is often equal to an arm’s length.
  2. Move your operative leg toward the walker first. Then take a step with your good leg, bringing it slightly ahead of the operative leg.
  3. Do not take big steps that place you too close to the walker. There should be space between you and the walker at all times. If you are too close, you may lose your balance.
  4. Hold your head up and look straight ahead. It is tempting to watch your feet, but more tiring, and you may run into something.
  5. Be sure to walk slowly.

Walking with a walker

 

Sitting with a walker

  1. Slowly back up to the chair, bed, or toilet until you feel it against the back of your legs.
  2. Let go of the walker and reach back for the chair arm, bed, or toilet seat, while sliding your operative leg forward.
  3. Slowly lower yourself onto the seat by leaning forward and keeping your operative leg outstretched in front of you. Go slowly, so you do not “plop” into the chair.

Sitting down with walker steps

 

Going up stairs with a walker

Always remember, when climbing stairs, start with your good leg going up, and start with your operative leg going down. Up with the good!  Down with the bad! When going up and down stairs with a walker, you also should have a sturdy handrail.

  1. Approach the stairs and place your feet about 6 inches from the first step.
  2. Fold the walker and place it in one hand. Place the other hand on the rail.
  3. Lift the folded walker and set it to the back of the step.
    Going up stairs starting
  4. Step up first with your good leg, and then bring up your operative leg.
  5. At the top of the stairs, unfold the walker and set it on the landing. Make sure that you hear the walker click into the locked position. Place both hands on the walker.
  6. Step up first with your good leg, and then bring up your operative leg.

Going up stairs with walker ending

 

Going down stairs with a walker

  1. Approach the stairs and place your walker about 2 inches from the top step.
  2. Fold the walker and place it in one hand. Place the other hand on the rail.
  3. Set the folded walker down and to the front edge of the step.
    Walking down stairs with walker
     
  4. Step down first with your operative leg, and then bring down your good leg.
  5. At the bottom of the stairs, unfold the walker and set it on the landing. Make sure you hear the walker click into the locked position.
  6. Place both hands on the walker. Step down first with your operative leg, and then with your good leg.

Going down stairs with walker last steps

 

Going up a curb with a walker - forward method

  1. Walk straight up to the curb. Put all 4 legs of the walker up on the curb.
  2. Push straight down on the walker when stepping up with your good leg.
  3. Then step up with your operative leg.

Going up curb with walker

 

Going up a curb with a walker -backward method

  1. Walk up to the curb and turn so your back is to the curb.
  2. Step up on the curb with your good leg. Then step up on the curb with your operative leg.
  3. Lift the walker and put all 4 legs up on the curb. Turn back around carefully.

GFoing up curb with walker backwards

 

Going down a curb with a walker

  1. Walk up to the edge of the curb. Put all 4 legs of the walker on the ground below.
  2. Step down first with your operative leg, and then bring down your good leg.

Never go down a curb backwards.

Going down a curb with walker

 

© 2017 – August 2, 2019, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or healthcare team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: health-info@osu.edu.