Knee replacement surgery is an orthopaedic procedure that involves removing damaged parts of the knee joint and replacing them with artificial implants. The surgery is a major procedure and your body needs to heal for the surgery to be successful. The recovery process after knee replacement surgery is important for achieving optimal results and restoring mobility and function to the knee. Here are some tips for recovering after knee replacement surgery.
Follow Your Doctor's Instructions
It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully after knee replacement surgery. This includes taking any prescribed medications, attending follow-up appointments, and adhering to any physical therapy or exercise recommendations.
It can sometimes be difficult to maintain consistency in following your doctor’s instructions, but consistency is crucial in ensuring successful postoperative recovery. To help keep yourself motivated, start by setting achievable and measurable goals. Establish a routine that works the medication, physical therapy, and exercise into your daily life. It also helps to keep track of your progress.
Log Your Pain
Use a calendar to log your pain levels, range of motion, and activity levels. Do not hesitate to ask for help, whether it be from family, friends, or medical professionals. Ensure that you take care of your mental health as much as your physical health - your mindset will have a huge influence on your recovery journey. Allow yourself to celebrate small victories, and to remain optimistic about your progress.
Manage Pain and Swelling
Pain and swelling are common after knee replacement surgery. Your doctor may prescribe pain medications or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage discomfort. Applying ice to the knee, wearing compression stockings and elevating your leg can also help reduce swelling.
Avoid high-impact activities until your doctor clears you to resume them, and stay hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water per day. It is also important to communicate with your doctor about any pain or swelling you experience. They may recommend adjustments to your medications or additional treatments to alleviate your symptoms.
Move and Exercise Regularly
Exercise plays a crucial role in the recovery process after knee replacement surgery. Your physical therapist will provide you with specific exercises to perform at home. Following their instructions will ensure that you exercise safely and efficiently. Start with simple exercises and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as you regain strength and range of motion.
Early recovery stage exercises that focus on enhancing range of motion, such as heel slides and knee bends will aid in regaining flexibility in the knee joint. Muscle strengthening exercises, such as leg lifts and squats, can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint, reducing pain and providing support to the joint. Incorporate various workouts into your routine to keep your exercises engaging and challenging. Walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga are all great options.
Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. Take breaks and rest if you experience pain or swelling during or after exercise. During exercise, use assistive devices such as a cane or crutches to support your weight and reduce stress on the knee joint.
Remember to always consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine after knee replacement surgery. They can provide you with guidance and support to ensure you exercise safely and effectively.
Use Assistive Devices As Needed
Your doctor may recommend using assistive devices to help you move around safely and comfortably during the recovery period. There are various assistive devices to choose from. Your doctor or physical therapist will recommend the appropriate assistive device for your individual needs based on your level of mobility and stage of recovery. These devices can help reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent falls. Some common assistive devices used after knee replacement surgery include:
A walker is a strong weight-height frame with four legs. Sometimes the walker has wheels at the bottom, in front, in the back or on all four legs. A walker can provide support and stability when walking, especially in the early stages of recovery. Some walkers can also function as a seat, for the person to sit on should they get tired.
A cane is a long sturdy pole that a person can lean on to help take the weight off the affected knee and reduce the risk of falls. It is often used as a transition from a walker to walking unassisted.
A crutch is a modified pole, reaching up to the armpit. It usually has padding at the top where it supports the person’s weight under the armpit and hand-holds about midway down. Crutches are usually used in pairs, one for each arm. They are often used in the early stages of recovery to keep weight off the affected knee while walking and can help improve mobility.
A knee immobilizer is a brace that is worn around the knee to keep it in a fixed position. It is often used in the first few weeks after surgery to help protect the knee and promote healing.
Compression stockings are stretchy, tight-fitting stockings that can help prevent blood clots and reduce swelling in the leg.
Raised Toilet Seat
A raised toilet seat can make it easier to sit down and stand up after knee replacement surgery.
A shower chair can provide support and stability when showering, reducing the risk of falls.
Take Care Of Your Incision
Proper wound care is important for preventing infection and promoting healing after knee replacement surgery. Keep the incision clean and dry, and follow any instructions provided by your doctor for dressing changes or wound care. If you have any concerns or questions about caring for your incision, don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
Change Your Dressing
Your doctor may have you change the dressing on your incision regularly, especially in the first few weeks after surgery. Make sure to wash your hands before changing the dressing to prevent infection. Keep an eye on your incision for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs, contact your doctor immediately.
Avoid soaking your incision in water, such as in a bathtub or hot tub, until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. Wear loose-fitting clothing that won't rub against your incision and irritate it. Try to keep your incision out of the sun, as sun exposure can cause scarring. Be gentle with your incision, and avoid pulling or stretching the skin around it.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet is important after knee replacement surgery to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications. Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Incorporate foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as leafy greens, berries, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help promote healing and prevent constipation, a common side effect of pain medications. Your doctor may recommend taking supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, to support bone health. Overeating can lead to weight gain, which can put extra stress on your knee joint. Use smaller plates and be mindful of portion sizes. Processed foods are often high in salt and sugar, which can contribute to inflammation and weight gain.
Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals ahead of time can help ensure you have healthy options on hand and can prevent the temptation to reach for unhealthy snacks. It is important to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about any dietary restrictions or recommendations specific to your individual needs after knee replacement surgery.
The Best Way To Recover After Surgery: Discipline & Consistency
Recovering after knee replacement surgery is crucial for restoring mobility and function to the knee. Consistency, setting achievable goals, and celebrating small victories can help you stay motivated during your recovery journey.
Exercise and physical therapy are essential to regain strength and range of motion but always consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. Assistive devices, such as a cane or crutches, can provide support and stability when walking. Proper wound care is crucial for preventing infection and promoting healing. It is important to communicate with your doctor about any pain or swelling you experience and to take care of your mental health as much as your physical health.
It is important to remember that recovery time can vary from person to person and may take several months. Be patient with yourself and follow your doctor's recommendations to achieve the best possible outcome from your knee replacement surgery.