Complete recovery guide after total knee replacement


Knee replacement surgery is otherwise known as knee arthroplasty. It involves scraping away the diseased cartilage around the knee, thigh bone, knee cap and other affected areas. An artificial joint of metal alloys, advanced plastics and polymers is placed. If you are someone who has recently undergone this or if you are about to, read on to learn about the recovery of total knee replacement surgery here

How to shower after knee surgery
Bathing after knee surgery can be complicated. But if you follow these steps given by your doctor, it is as easy as it sounds. Showering is advisable during the initial days of recovery, as the surgical wound would have just started to heal.

Most of the surgeries have waterproof dressing. To be sure, ask your doctor or nurse about it, so you can be extra cautious while you are showering. It does not mean you can submerge your leg in water if it is waterproof. Hence, cover your incision with plastic wrap or rubber so it stays dry while taking a shower. If the operated area is covered with sutures, staples or stitches, do not wet those 48 hours before your surgery. Ask for your doctor’s advice and introduce light showers on the stitches.

Recovery after total knee replacement week by week
After a successful surgery, you might be given pain killers to ease the pain and a blood transfusion if the red blood cells are less. The recovery phase of knee replacement surgery begins once you receive training from a physiotherapist at the hospital. It differs for each person. The recovery also depends on how complex and advanced the surgery is. However, here is a common guide to help you glide through this stage.

Improving mobility
You will be assisted with crutches and a therapist to walk slowly before you are discharged. When you return home, you will be able to move frequently and quickly, with less pain. Most knee surgeries are minimally invasive these days. Hence, by week three, you can expect an improvement in your mobility and range of motion.

Stretching and exercises
The degrees of your knee’s flexion improve after every week. This flexion is calculated by how far you can turn your knees without discomfort. The physiotherapist will help you bend between 70 and 90 degrees during the first week. You will also regain strength and flexibility if you regularly catch up with the training sessions. You need not worry about the flexion degree, as the focus here is to help you get back on track with reduced after-effects of the surgery. You can sit on a chair, get out of the car among many things, if you are in tune with your training schedule.

Sticking to the old routine
By following a structured rule of recovery, your operated knee will show amazing healing and difference. By weeks 4 to 6, you can expect to resume your work like before. Your surgeon will also reduce the dosage of the pain medications you have been taking so far.

Extending mobility
Do not worry if you have light scars, bruises and swelling even after 90 days of the surgery. It may take at least one year to recover completely. Although, by three months, you will be able to walk long distances, lift things that weigh less and travel short distances in a car or flight.

Using CPM machine
A CPM is called a continuous passive machine. Patients convalescing after joint surgeries use this CPM machine extensively. The CPM reduces the pain and the duration of the hospital stay. People reeling after knee replacement benefit from CPM’s automatic control that moves the muscles. Doctors recommend this for a better recovery after six weeks of the surgery.

Warning signs of infection
All patients go through a post-operation stage, where they are kept under observation. They might be affected by fever, swelling and other conditions. This, however, lasts for a few hours or days only. Note these signs for your future reference.

Post-operative fever is highly common in most patients. It is the body’s way of fighting injury and inflammation in the damaged area. It goes beyond 102 F, but there is no need for worry. Under constant monitoring, it reduces in two days.

Body pain
Pain can be localised or a patient can experience it all over the body. It is again common to suffer from pains, as the muscles might have become poor, after the shock from the operation. There might also be other reasons like misalignment of the implant, implant rejection or infection. So, to be safe, inform your doctor about this and get treated at an earlier stage.

Nasal congestion
There is a chance of being affected by pneumonia or nasal congestion after the surgery. Inhale and exhale slowly, in rhythmic patterns to avoid these conditions.

Everyone who goes through surgeries experiences fatigue. It vanishes after a sound sleep.

Recovery at home after knee replacement
You can bounce back from the knee surgery, one step at a time, by following these steps.

  • Walking on a level surface – Post the operation, you need to be more careful while walking. Walking on inclined planes needs effort and puts more pressure on your knees. Hence, you are advised to initially walk on a level and smooth surface without help.
  • Climbing stairs – After gaining some courage and strength, try climbing two steps at a time on a staircase that is not steep.
  • Ice packs – Ice reduces the swelling in your operated area. Hence, help your knee with ice packs every day till it shrinks.
  • Comfortable sleepwear – Do not wear any tight clothes that stick to your knees. Sleep on a cushion mattress with soft pillows for comfort.
  • Use a walker or stretcher – To maintain your balance while walking, use a stretcher or walker.
  • Changing bandages and dressing – Get your affected area cleaned as per your doctor’s or nurse’s advice. Always wear fresh bandages to avoid infections.

Exercises to follow after total knee replacement surgery
We already stated how stretches and other exercises lead to a quick recovery. Here are a few activities that you can try at home.

Ankle pumps
Lie on your back and point your ankles upwards. Now, slowly pull the ankle of your surgical leg up and down. Repeat it ten times.

Quad sets
Sit on the floor and stretch your legs. Place a towel or your hand under the operated knee. Tighten the thighs and stay in that position for 20 counts. You can do two sets of this exercise.

Glute squeezes
Lie on your back or sit down, stretching your legs. Tighten your butt muscles for a minute and release them. If you are sitting during exercise, do not arch your back too low. Do the glute squeezes for 12- counts every day.

Knee bending on a chair
Sit on a chair and rest your foot lightly on the floor. Bend forward till your knee bends to an angle. Maintain posture till your legs feel sore. Repeat three sets daily.

The joint replacement team at Sancheti Hospital is one of the most talented and highly innovative surgeons. Their minimally invasive joint replacement procedures have been successful, with no post-op complications. So, if you are considering doing a knee replacement, reach out to the team at Sancheti Hospital.

People also ask

How long does a knee replacement last?
Successful knee replacements last for more than 15 years.

How to live with a replaced knee?
People can lead their lives like before, but with extra caution to the operated knee. Do not put much pressure on it.

What is the success rate of knee replacement?
The expected success rate of knee replacement is from 90 to 95%.

Which are the most painful days after knee replacement surgery?
The initial 30 days after the operation can be extremely painful, and the pain ceases from 6 months to one year.

What helps knee replacements heal faster?
Be in contact with your physiotherapist and perform all the activities that they ask you to. Try to be active, and this heals your knee faster.

When can I drive?
On your doctor’s advice, you can start driving 2-6 weeks after the surgery.

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