Yes! After your operated knee has healed and after 8-12 months of rehabilitation, you should be able to kneel.
Here are three common reasons why a person may not or feel like they may not, be able to kneel.
1. Range of motion (ROM):
ROM is a measure of how much you are able to bend or extend a joint. The ROM of your knee before surgery is one of the biggest contributing factors to the ROM of your knee after surgery.[ 1] Generally, you need a ROM of at least 90 degrees in your knee to sit comfortably in a chair. According to a study looking at 100 replaced knees, 64 patients were able to kneel with little to no discomfort if they were able to bend their knee more than 90 degrees.[ 2]
Even a year after knee replacement it is normal to experience pain or discomfort in your knee, especially when moving it beyond a comfortable range. This is one of biggest factors preventing people from kneeling after they have had knee replacement surgery.[ 3]
It has been shown that people who have had a knee replacement often do not think they can kneel when they actually can. In a study involving 122 patients, only 36% said they could kneel while 63% of the patients said they could not kneel. When the actual kneeling ability of the patients was measured, 74% of them were able to kneel on the ground without any negative effects. The reasons for the difference in what patients thought they could do and what they actually could do was mostly based on the fear that kneeling would be painful or harmful.[ 4]
If you are experiencing discomfort or are worried about the effects of kneeling, please speak to your healthcare provider about your situation.
By completing your rehabilitation exercises every day you will be increasing the ROM of your knee and reducing your likelihood of experiencing pain while keeping yourself on track to being able to kneel again!
[ 2]: Palmer, S. H., Servant, C. T., Maguire, J., Parish, E. N., & Cross, M. J. (2002). Ability to kneel after total knee replacement. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. British Volume, 84(2), 220-222. 10.1302/0301-620X.84B2.12568
[ 3]: White, L., Stockwell, T., Hartnell, N., Hennessy, M., & Mullan, J. (2016). Factors preventing kneeling in a group of pre-educated patients post total knee arthroplasty. Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology : Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 17(4), 333–338.
[ 4]: Hassaballa, M. A., Porteous, A. J., & Newman, J. H. (2004). Observed kneeling ability after total, unicompartmental and patellofemoral knee arthroplasty: Perception versus reality. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 12(2), 136-139.