Planning for a successful surgery recovery can seem daunting but don’t fret! Here is what to expect after knee replacement surgery and three tips for a successful recovery.
Knee replacement surgery can be scary, but it’s come a long way thanks to medical advancement in recent years, and it’s not as big of a challenge as it once was. The important thing is that you know what to expect after knee replacement surgery and that you do the best you can to take care of yourself in ways that will help your recovery along. Check out what you need to know about the time following your knee replacement surgery and how you can ensure that your recovery is successful.
The First Few Days
It’s important to know what to expect after knee replacement surgery to ensure a smooth knee surgery recovery. Recovery from your surgery starts right away while you’re still in the hospital. You’ll have a visit with a physical therapist early on to acquaint you with the assistive devices you’ll need to be using, like a walker, crutches, or a cane, and help you stand up and walk for the first time following surgery. The physical therapist or a nurse should also help you navigate using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing.
Over the days between your surgery and your discharge, you’ll continue to work on standing and walking, daily living skills, and knee flexion and extension. You could stay in the hospital for as little as two or three days or longer, depending on your progress. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you spend some time on inpatient rehabilitation before you return home.
The First Few Weeks
As you transition back to living at home, you should see your pain level reduce and your ability to move around increase. You might be using a CPM machine to move your joint gently. Your physical therapist will give you an exercise routine that you’ll need to follow.
Your knee will regain its ability to bend and flex, but it may continue to be painful and difficult to do so because of the post-surgical swelling. However, if you continue to follow your exercise plan and the directions of your doctor and physical therapist, your new knee will continue to grow stronger. By the end of the first two or three weeks, you may have progressed from a walker or crutches to a cane or to no assistive device at all, and you should be handling all of your personal care by yourself at this time.
Six Weeks In
Around now, you’ll have started to become more independent. You should be experiencing less inflammation as well as less pain. That’s good because this is the time that you should be using to increase the strength and flexibility of your knee.
Your physical therapist’s plan for you at this stage of your recovery should involve exercises to gain greater range of motion, longer walks, and to wean yourself off of any assistive devices that you didn’t need before the surgery. You should be able to tackle basic household tasks that you handled before, like cleaning and cooking, and you may even be able to go back to work if you have a more sedentary job. However, if your job is more physical, you won’t be ready to return until around the three-month mark.
You may be able to drive around this time if you get your doctor’s OK. As for traveling, you’ll be at increased risk for blood clots during the first six weeks, so you should avoid the extended sitting that goes on during travel. But after that, if your doctor clears you, you can begin to take trips again.
Three Months In
You’ll probably continue doing physical therapy until around the three-month mark. You might be getting tired of physical therapy at this point, but it’s important to commit to it. The more invested you are in your therapy, the more likely you are to have a full recovery and return to as active a lifestyle as you had prior to the surgery.
At this point, your physical therapist might have you doing more difficult exercises, such as hip abductions, leg balances, and stationary bicycling, among others. You should be feeling a lot less pain if any, and much less stiffness as well. You should be able to walk longer distances and participate in other activities like swimming and bicycling. However, you still should stay away from high-impact activities like running, basketball, football, hiking, skiing, and aerobics. These can damage your knee.
After Three Months
It can be six months to a year before you are fully recovered from knee replacement surgery, so don’t think that just because you’ve come to the end of therapy, you’re done healing. But if you follow your physical therapist’s and doctor’s advice and continue to exercise and take care of your knee, you’ll continue to get stronger and more pain-free with time.
The Top 3 Tips That Will Help Your Recovery Succeed
Recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You can’t completely control it, of course, but the things that you can do can affect how quickly recovery goes and how successful it is. So, take a look at some of the tips that will help your recovery succeed.
- Prepare in advance. If you haven’t had your surgery yet, you have time to get ready. Prepare a list of questions for your doctor so that you don’t forget to ask at your appointment. Ask about complications, recovery time, and any specific concerns about how any existing conditions you may have will be affected by surgery.
- Get your home ready. When you return home, you won’t be moving around as well, so get your home ready before you return. Make sure that you have clear floor space, downstairs access to everything you’ll need, a sturdy chair, and someone to help take care of you for at least a little while.
- Listen to your medical team. People choose the best medical professionals they can access, so why not listen to them? Follow your doctor’s advice and the instructions of your physical therapist. Of course, it’s important to give them all of the information they need to give you good instructions – for example, don’t downplay pain or difficulty moving when you talk to them – but then follow their plan because they design it for you to get better.
The staff at Pearl Recovery Retreat can help you and your medical team plan a recovery that will be right for you.