Recovering from a knee injury can be challenging for anyone. The hassle of getting around and keeping weight off the knee is not exactly easy. Many people find themselves hopping around the home, using crutches, or even relying on the temporary help of a wheelchair to prevent pain and allow the knee to heal. There are many ways to stay off the knee while walking around your home or work. You can even exercise around an injured knee. But what about driving?

Driving is an essential part of modern life. As an adult, you likely drive yourself to and from work and to take care of your own errands. But when you’ve got a knee injury, getting around becomes a whole new challenge. Is it safe to drive with your knee injury? Is it possible? And if it is safe and possible, how can you best drive with a knee injury to avoid pain and increase road safety? That is exactly what we’re here to talk about today.

Driving with a Knee Injury

Driving with a knee injury can be possible. It depends on the extent and nature of the injury, and which knee is injured. If your left knee is injured, you will need to treat it gingerly in the driver’s seat but may be able to safely immobilize it as you drive with your right foot. However, if your right knee is injured, you will need to decide carefully whether it’s safe and/or possible to drive.

Remember, driving involves a great deal of precision footwork, which is often achieved by flexing the knee as the ankle handles the fine motor control. You will need to be able to comfortably position your foot over both the gas and brake pedals and provide sufficient pressure (at responsive speeds) for safe driving. There are many knee injuries that don’t stop you from driving, but there’s also a serious risk if you try to drive when your knee isn’t ready.

It’s important to properly assess your knee’s capabilities and then take the necessary steps to enable driving while injured if you decide it is safe to drive.

Test Out Your Driving Position

When deciding whether you can drive with the knee, the first step is to test out your driving position. Without putting your car in gear, simply sit in the driver’s seat and see how your knee feels in the proper driving position. Place your left foot on the rise designated for it and your right foot in the center of the gas pedal. Consider where your leg would need to be to comfortably reach both the gas and brake pedals and to alternate between while applying pressure. With the car off, it’s safe to test pressing each pedal to see if this action causes pain or discomfort to your knee.

If even sitting in the driving position is uncomfortable to you, then you probably should not drive until the knee injury is further healed. This is true of left-knee injuries as well. Assume that pain in the left leg when sitting idle will distract you even if your right leg is good to work the pedals. However, if this position and pedal-pressing feels alright, then you might be able to drive during recovery after all. Provided your drives aren’t so long that you become stiff or sore.

Decide if It’s Safe for You to Drive

Now is the time to make your judgment call. Decide whether you think it’s safe to drive before proceeding any further. If there are signs that you should not drive, take the smart decision and make alternate transportation plans. It may be tedious to ask for a ride or an alternate driver, but it’s better than putting yourself at risk with a bum driving leg.

If you decide it’s safe to drive, take a roll around the block or local neighborhood to give yourself a test mile or two, just in case. If you’re still comfortable, then it’s likely safe to proceed with your driving-while-injured plans.

Adjust the Seat to Allow for Leg Extension

Once you’ve decided to drive, it’s time to make some adjustments. Consider how you might change the seat position, for example, to provide more comfort to your recovering leg. You might roll the seat back further than usual so your legs can stretch out. Pair this with pulling the steering wheel out further as well for better reach. Many driver’s seats also have directional tilt forward and back, along with up and down controls to help you get the optimal driving position for your body.

During knee injury recovery, these adjustments may help you create a more comfortable position for your leg so that you can drive more safely without the distraction of pain or aching in the knee as you operate the pedals.