After Knee Replacement
Knee replacement is a surgery performed to replace parts of a diseased knee joint with an artificial prosthesis. The goal of knee replacement is to eliminate pain and return you to your normal activities.
After knee replacement surgery, once the anesthesia wears off, you will start to experience some pain, for which your doctor will prescribe medication.
Rehabilitation begins very shortly after surgery, where a physical therapist will help you stand up and walk using crutches or a walker. Adhering to the goals of the rehabilitation program is important to help you recover and resume your normal activities. You will be guided to perform strengthening exercises daily and learn to get in and out of bed, and use a bedside commode. When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be encouraged to walk short distances with an assistive device, climb a few stairs, dress, bathe and perform other basic functions by yourself.
On reaching home, have a family member or caregiver assist you with your activities for a few weeks. Taking care of someone following knee replacement surgery requires compassion, awareness and patience. Basic points to follow by your caregiver:
Helping with basic movement and functions as well as emotional support
Having a clear understanding of your medication and ensuring they are administered in a timely manner
Keeping emergency numbers ready
Assisting you with household chores, paperwork and traveling to keep your appointments
Helping and motivating you to perform your rehabilitation exercises
Ensuring that furniture is rearranged so as not to interfere with your movement and cause falls.
To avoid bending or reaching out, items that you use frequently can be placed easily within reach.
Certain instructions that your doctor will brief you about are:
- You may shower when you get home, but avoid soaking in a bathtub for the first six weeks.
- Keep the wound clean and dry.
- Some amount of swelling is normal after knee replacement and may last for a few months. It can be controlled by icing and elevating your leg for 30 to 60 minutes every day.
Your physical therapy program will gradually include new and more difficult exercises as you improve in strength and flexibility. Your physical therapy program will gradually include new and more difficult exercises as you improve in strength and flexibility. To reduce stress, use the opposite knee to lead when climbing stairs and the replaced knee to lead when descending (up with the good, down with the bad). You will be able to drive a few weeks after surgery when you have sufficient pain control, improved strength and can easily enter and exit a car. Walking and exercising at least 2-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes is recommended for a faster recovery.
You and your care giver must be aware of the signs of infection. Contact your doctor if you notice any abnormal wound changes or should you have persistent fever or any wound drainage, or other signs of infection.