The “grace period” for DVT development after joint replacement surgery is 90 days, but why so far out if by then, the patient is walking?

Three months out from a knee or hip replacement surgery, a patient who has recovered well might be walking a few miles a day.

Despite that, the risk for a deep vein thrombosis is still present.

“Hard to say why one may get a DVT weeks after joint replacement surgery,” says Paul Lucas, MD, surgeon with the Vascular Center and director of the Vascular Laboratory at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

“Obviously, being sedentary is the main reason, but poor joint movement, lack of flexion ability….anything that may contribute to stasis [inertia] will be a risk….scar tissue, post-op inflammation/swelling within the knee space,” explains Dr. Lucas.

My father has had four joint replacement surgeries. For the fourth one, he was on Coumadin for only 10 days post-op.

Interestingly, the medical literature, in general, says that a patient is at increased risk for DVT up to 90 days after knee or hip replacement surgery.

DVT Risk Following Joint Replacement Varies from One Patient to the Next

Dr. Lucas says, “Some people have a hypercoagulable state [more prone to clotting] that they are not even aware of, and the insult of surgery triggers the DVT.

“Usually these people don’t get DVT unless another risk exposure presents, like surgery or a traumatic injury, etc.”

DVT Symptoms

  • Soreness, tenderness or cramp in the lower leg that is not relieved with rest.
  • Lower leg appears suddenly bigger or swollen.
  • Lower leg may be reddisn/pinkish.
  • It may be exceptionally warm to the touch.

Deep vein thrombosis. Scientific Animations, Creative Commons/BY-SA/Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Dr. Lucas leads a team of vascular surgeons and technologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseased blood vessels.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/Naeblys