What to Expect after Knee Replacement Surgery
After a knee replacement, you may be anxious to return to the life you had before the pain and the surgery. While resuming your everyday activities will take time, being actively involved in the healing process can help ensure a faster and more successful recovery. Even if you are able to engage in your usual activities, there are some things you will want to avoid, such as high-impact exercises like jogging, since these types of repetitive movements may put unnecessary stress on your new knee. Before getting back into your regular routine, make sure you’re familiar with your newest body part so you know how to apply proper post-surgery care.
How to Take Care of Your Knee after Surgery
Knee replacement surgery is very common and can help improve your ability to get around independently. In recent years, the procedure has become even more advanced, making it an attractive option for those who want to restore function and seek relief from pain. Depending on the circumstances, most patients can expect to be on their feet within a day.
What you should do during your knee replacement recovery phase:
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide you with various knee strengthening exercises to encourage range of motion, while also reducing scar tissue. We can also help you adapt to using walking devices such as a walker or a cane while you work on regaining strength and flexibility. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to keep moving and continue to exercise according to your treatment plan.
- Prepare Your Home: Before having knee replacement surgery, have a family member or friend help you rearrange your furniture so that your environment is easier to maneuver and more conducive for getting around with a walking aid. For instance, rugs should be removed or fastened down, install a shower rail or chair and try to avoid using the stairs during your recovery.
- Wound Care: Keep your wound clean and dry by using a medical dressing to prevent infection. Remember to ask your doctor for specific care instructions like how often to change the dressing and how long to wait before it is safe to take a shower or bath. If your wound looks red or begins to drain, call your doctor immediately as this could signal an active infection. Some patients may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections from developing in the artificial joint. Take these as prescribed.
- Treating Swelling: It’s normal to experience moderate swelling in the first few days or weeks after your surgery. To reduce swelling, elevate your leg and apply an ice pack. You may also try wearing compression stockings to help reduce swelling but if you notice any new swelling, notify your doctor right away. Severe swelling may be a sign of a blood clot.
- Adjust Your Diet: After surgery, your doctor may recommend supplementing your diet with vitamins such as iron. Make sure to eat a well balanced diet, drink plenty of water and avoid drinking alcohol. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your weight so you don’t run the risk of putting more stress on your new joint.
If you are having knee replacement surgery, you may need help from a physical therapist during the recovery phase. At Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania, our licensed physical therapists can help you through a gentle series of exercises to help strengthen and mobilize your repaired knee. Depending on your existing health and your motivation to recover from surgery, we can design a program that is suitable to your particular needs. Additionally, our direct access therapists give you the opportunity to immediately access our therapy services, so you can get treated and recover even faster and more efficiently. Whether you continue your rehabilitation at home or at our center, it is important to follow the instructions from your care team and keep up with your exercises to ensure a successful recovery.