Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery
Although every patient recovers differently, here are some of the things you may expect in the days, weeks, and months following knee replacement surgery.
Immediately following surgery
- Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team, nurses, and physical therapists will closely monitor your recovery progress.
- Most knee replacement patients are encouraged to walk with assistance, such as a cane, walker, or crutches, on a level surface and climb up and down two or three stairs within one to four days after surgery or before discharge from the hospital.
- Once you’ve been moved to a regular hospital room, the physical therapist will recommend certain exercises for your replaced knee.
- Initially, activity will cause discomfort, so Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team may recommend pain medication prior to physical therapy. Gradually, your pain medication will be reduced, the IV will be removed, your diet will progress to solids, and you will become increasingly mobile.
- Your physical therapist will talk with you about how to continue your progress after your hospital stay. They will also go over exercises to help improve your mobility.
- An occupational therapist may show you how to best perform daily activities, such as putting on socks, reaching for household items, and bathing.
- A case manager will discuss plans for your return home to help ensure you have all the necessary support for your recovery.
Once you get home
- In the weeks following surgery, certain limitations are placed on every patient’s activities. Using a cane or walker may be necessary for several weeks.
- Call Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team to report or discuss any concerns.
- Ask Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team about how to care for the wound.
- Ask Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team about any unusual symptoms that you should look out for after surgery. This may include, but is not limited to, pain in your leg unrelated to your incision, persistent fever, severe swelling, or drainage from the wound.
- Movement is essential to a healthy recovery. Once light activity becomes possible, it’s important to incorporate healthy exercise into your recovery program.
- Recommended activities include gradually increased walking and light household activities, such as climbing stairs. Work with your physical therapist to determine what’s right for you.
Life after total knee replacement
- After the initial recovery from surgery, most people can resume normal routine activities within the first 3 to 6 weeks of their total knee replacement. When fully recovered, the majority of individuals who have joint replacement surgery experience a reduction in joint pain and an improvement in their ability to participate in daily activities.
- It’s important to know that knee replacement surgery will not allow you to do more than you could before joint problems developed. Also, athletic activities that place excessive stress on the replaced joint, such as basketball, distance running, contact sports or frequent jumping, should be avoided. Dr. Chandrasekaran’s team will work with you to determine the most appropriate level of activity for you.