Total Knee Replacement: Tips for Recovery

Dec 11, 2012
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For millions of Americans, knee pain can be a debilitating condition. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons report more than half a million total knee replacement surgeries each year, and this number is unlikely to go down any time soon.

If you are a candidate for surgery or you are about to go under the knife, consider following these tips to get back to your usual self as soon as possible after the surgery.

Be Ready to Work

Total knee replacement success depends on getting your body back in motion quickly after the surgery. Even if you are used to a sedentary lifestyle because of knee pain, don’t expect to be resigned to television marathons immediately after your operation. Within 24 hours, a physical therapist should visit to help you stand, walk, sit, and use a continuous passive motion machine (CPM). You may need to rely on assistance (like a cane), but this is typically temporary. Moving and stretching your new knee so soon after the surgery prevents scar tissue formation and stiffness.

Following the advice of a physical therapist—and getting active quickly!—is crucial to your recovery. Most facilities will not allow you to go home until you can climb stairs and walk up and down the hall. In addition, many hospitals want to make sure you can get to and use the toilet and bed without assistance. The faster you get up and about, the sooner you can go home!

Commit to Rehabilitation

Following a total knee replacement, many people have to adjust to an entirely new lifestyle. Committing to regular physical activity that conforms to the advice of your physical therapist is essential. Returning to a sedentary life after surgery can harm the healing process and prevent your knee from achieving its full potential. By exercising and obeying the guidelines for rehab, you could potentially be more active with your new knee than you were even before you started experiencing pain.

Gradually build up your exercise regimen by walking and returning to everyday activities, such as carrying laundry baskets. With time and persistence, the pain should go away, and you will feel stronger and more flexible. By 6 weeks post-surgery, the swelling and inflammation from your operation should be decreasing; by week 12, you should be almost completely “back to normal”—able to dance, ride a bike, and walk around the neighborhood without assistance. The more effort you put into your rehabilitation after a total knee replacement, the sooner you will see results and feel the improvement.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A healthy weight can reduce the risk of post-surgical infection and can even make it easier to begin rehabilitation after surgery. Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can be just as important for reducing your knee pain, aiding your recovery, and relieving the stress on your joints.

Take advantage of your knee replacement surgery as an excuse to get healthy. Find an activity during the rehab period that is enjoyable and helps you burn some calories. Although you may never achieve a natural degree of bending or equal comfort kneeling, keeping a healthy frame can make it easier to get the most comfort and use out of your new knee.

Living with a Total Knee Replacement

If you have undergone total knee replacement, you should be able to achieve an active lifestyle after a standard few months of rehab. The more effort you put into caring for your new knee and recovering its strength and motion abilities, the more active you can expect your life with a replaced knee to be. Don’t think of a total knee replacement as a limitation; instead, think of it as a new lease on a life filled with physical activity and good health!

Author: Katie BrindAmour

  • Knee Replacement

    Although knee replacement surgeon and Physical therapist are essential for ultimate recovery of the patient, patient themselves plays most important role in recovery.

  • Abigail F Shipley

    Knee replacement surgery is most commonly performed in people with advanced osteoarthritis. It should be considered when conservative treatments have been exhausted. Physical therapy has been shown to improve function and may delay or prevent the need for knee replacement

  • knee pain

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  • Bob Lujano

    Thank you for sharing this information. Any posted information can benefit so many.

  • Catherine Felix

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