It is important to be patient and kind to yourself after knee replacement surgery, keeping in mind that each person’s recovery timeline will differ depending on their health and activity levels before the surgery and their age. You can expect recovery to follow a stepwise progression, with variations in the timeline based on personal context.
You will have your first physical therapy session within 24 hours of the surgery and you should be able to stand and walk a few steps within the first few days. With the approval of your care team, you will be able to start doing low-impact activities with the use of assistive devices (like crutches) within the first month after surgery. You should be able to increase the frequency of low-impact activities and engage in movement such as swimming and walking for longer distances by the second month. If your recovery has gone well, you may be able to return to higher-impact physical activity such as jogging by the third month. Full recovery takes about six months.
Recovery from major surgery might be slow, but there are ways to ensure that it happens as quickly and effectively as possible.
Follow Your Care Team’s Instructions
One of the most important factors that will ensure your speedy recovery is following the instructions provided by your doctor. They will tell you how to care for your knee, including when to remove the bandage, how to clean the incision site, and when to start physical therapy.
You will also receive instructions from your physical therapist and other members of your care team. It is important to complete your exercises and take your medication according to the schedule provided. Remaining disciplined in your regime will give you the best possible outcome.
Take Care Of Your Overall Health
It might sound obvious, but taking care of your overall health by maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and regular exercise can help improve your overall health and speed up your recovery. Make sure to eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest, and stay physically active, as long as your doctor approves it. Also, ensure that you maintain your personal hygiene and mental health, in order to ensure that you feel your best in body and mind.
Pain and discomfort are common after knee replacement surgery, but managing them effectively can help speed up your recovery. Pain is subjective, meaning that it is important to listen to your body and to communicate with your care team. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help alleviate your pain, but you can also try non-medical pain management techniques such as ice packs and elevating your leg.
Start (And Maintain) Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is crucial for a successful recovery from knee replacement surgery. It involves specifically designed movements facilitated by a physical therapist. Your therapist will guide you through a personalized exercise program that will gradually increase in intensity over time. Physical therapy helps to improve mobility, strength, and flexibility of the knee joint. It is important to continue the exercises even when your knee feels much better, in order to ensure optimal recovery.
Engage In Regular Movement And Exercise
Movement is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your body. Physical therapy will provide you with specific exercises to complete and guidelines for conducting everyday tasks.
Walking is an effective way to improve circulation, which prevents complications such as blood clots and keeps your joints limber. You will likely be able to walk soon after the surgery with the use of an assistive device such as a walker and you should be able to walk on your own four to eight weeks after surgery.
Low-impact activity, such as swimming, might also be an effective way to improve circulation.
Optimise Your Environment
It's important to optimize your living space before undergoing surgery to facilitate a smooth and comfortable recovery process after knee replacement surgery. Practically, it is a good idea to ensure that your sleeping area is comfortable and accessible. Use a supportive mattress and prepare to elevate your leg with pillows to reduce swelling.
Remove tripping hazards, install grab bars and handrails in key areas of the house, and move commonly used items to waist level. This can help you move around with ease and avoid unnecessary strain on your knee. You may also consider using assistive devices, such as a shower chair or toilet seat riser, and preparing meals in advance to minimize the amount of time spent standing or cooking during your recovery period. The aim is to create a safe and comfortable living space that will aid in your recovery from knee replacement surgery.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery takes time, and it's important to be patient and not rush the process. Your doctor will provide you with a recovery plan and timeline, based on your particular circumstances. Consistency and discipline are important in following your recovery plan, but it is equally important not to overstrain your knee in an attempt to speed up recovery. Always consult with your care team before embarking on a new exercise programme.
How To Optimise Your Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery?
Recovering from knee replacement surgery requires a lot of patience, discipline, and hard work. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by your care team, maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage pain effectively, and consistently engage in physical therapy and low-impact activities. Optimizing your living space before the surgery can also make the recovery process smoother and more comfortable.
Remember that everyone's recovery timeline will differ based on personal context, and it's important not to rush the process. By following these steps and being patient with yourself, you can ensure an optimal timeline for your recovery and get back to your daily activities as soon as possible.