Tips To Speed Your Recovery After Knee Replacement Surgery
Nearly half of American adults will develop knee arthritis at some point during their lives. Pain, stiffness, and limited mobility are often the result of knee arthritis. Knee replacement surgery can relieve pain and restore function when your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury. The average recovery time from knee replacement surgery is approximately six months, but it can take roughly 12 months to fully return to physically demanding activities. Though the recovery process can be long, there are steps you can take to heal well and enhance your recovery speed.
Previous Ligament Reconstruction Surgery Higher Risk For Complications After Knee Replacement
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have published findings in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research which they suggest that patients who had previous multi-ligament reconstruction surgery were at high risk for:
- knee replacement complications,
- constrained knee replacement designs ,
- and a higher risk of major complications, including reoperation and infection.
Contact Orthobethesda To Learn More
If you believe that you are a candidate for total knee replacement, we invite you to reach out to us online to schedule an appointment at OrthoBethesda.
- 1635 N. George Mason Drive #180 Arlington, VA
- Ph 567-4706
- 4420 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100 Arlington, VA
- Ph 419-3002
- 10215 Fernwood Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
- Ph 530-1010
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Looking After Your New Knee
- continue to take any prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to help manage any pain and swelling
- use your walking aids but aim to gradually decrease the amount you rely on them as your leg feels stronger
- keep up your exercises to help prevent stiffness, but do not force your knee
- do not sit with your legs crossed for the first 6 weeks after your operation
- do not put a pillow underneath your knee when sleeping as this can result in a permanently bent knee
- avoid twisting at your knee
- wear supportive shoes outdoors
- do not kneel on your operated knee until your surgeon says you can
- raise your leg when sitting and apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel for 20 minutes every 3 or 4 hours to reduce any swelling
Page last reviewed: 02 August 2019 Next review due: 02 August 2022
In This Video Our Patient Jeannette Had Issues With Spinal Stenosis And Problems Post Knee Replacement
- Jeannette starts discussing the knee replacement complications at 2:30 into the video. Jeannette is 81 years old.
Jeannette describes a foot tingling problem. She cannot sit down and relax at the end of the day, it is uncomfortable for her to put her feet up or down because it is tingling. She had a nerve conduction study that shows an injury to her peroneal nerve.
The peroneal nerve branches out from the sciatic nerve. As it provides sensation to the front and sides of the legs and to the top of the feet, damage to this nerve would result in burning and tingling or numbness sensation in these areas. Further damage to this nerve would also cause loss of control in the muscles in the leg that help you point your toes upward. This can lead to walking problems and possibly foot drop, the inability to lift the front of the foot or ankle. Knee and hip replacement are leading culprits in the cause of peroneal nerve injury.
In Jeannettes case, she had two knee replacement surgeries in that knee. After the first knee replacement surgery, the implant started to protrude away from the limb. The knee replacement became loose. The second surgery to fix the first one occurred in 2015.
- It was determined after examination that Jeannettes knee ligaments were loose. Her knee was hypermobile and unstable. This was causing pressure on her peroneal nerve. Knee ligament damage and weakness is also a complication of knee replacement surgery and is discussed further below.
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Thoughts On 2 Months After Tkr Surgery
This article is amazing and Im so grateful I came across it. Im on day 8 after my TKR and have experienced everything from day 1 as you have described it. I am tired tonight and going to read more tomorrow but just wanted to say thank you.
My main battle and task which I find is getting me down is my range of motion. I cant move my operated knee out of the bed without the aid of a strap I feel like I will never be able to do this again without an aid at the moment.Can you help with this?
Hi and thanks for reading. I hope you can use my articles as a resource during your recovery. I only have my experience to pull from but I always welcome input from others, like you, who are going through knee replacement recovery. At day 8 your range of motion will still be limited due to swelling . Dont let it deter you from your exercises and dont forget to ice! I hope you have a speedy and successful recovery just as I have.
After 2 years, I get tingling and needle pain occasionally. My problem was the morphine and codeine made me sick and dizzy. I had only tylenol for pain. I had a longer recovery. Took me at least 3 months before I could think about rehab. and/or exercise.
I use my other foot to hook up ,at the ankle, the surgical leg to get in and out of bed. I too wish the therapists could have prepared me for this part of the recovery.
Excellent method. I did the same!
Thank-you Ken Stang , writing this as it helped me a lot.
Walk As Soon As Possible
Recovery from joint replacement surgery isnt always easy, but getting back on your feet as soon as the doctor says its okay can help you recover. Walking helps prevent complications like blood clots, improves circulation, and keeps your joints limber. You dont have to wait until you return home after surgery. Most patients can start walking while still in the hospital. Walking helps deliver important nutrients to your knee to help you heal and recover. You can expect to use a walker for the first couple of weeks. Most patients can walk on their own roughly four to eight weeks after knee replacement.
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How Your New Knee Is Different
Improvement of knee motion is a goal of total knee replacement, but restoration of full motion is uncommon. The motion of your knee replacement after surgery can be predicted by the range of motion you have in your knee before surgery. Most patients can expect to be able to almost fully straighten the replaced knee and to bend the knee sufficiently to climb stairs and get in and out of a car. Kneeling is sometimes uncomfortable, but it is not harmful.
Most people feel some numbness in the skin around your incision. You also may feel some stiffness, particularly with excessive bending activities.
Most people also feel or hear some clicking of the metal and plastic with knee bending or walking. This is a normal. These differences often diminish with time and most patients find them to be tolerable when compared with the pain and limited function they experienced prior to surgery.
Your new knee may activate metal detectors required for security in airports and some buildings. Tell the security agent about your knee replacement if the alarm is activated.
How Can I Ease Arthritis Pain
If you are looking for ways to reduce arthritis pain or maintain your knee surgery results, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate pain. While there is no true cure for arthritis, there are many things you can do to help reduce arthritis pain. Some of those things include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
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I Continue With Physical Therapy
I started offsite therapy three days a week on the third-week post surgery. The first week I was introduced to new exercises including the stationary bike and the Total Gym.
It was easy going at first. I started out on the stationary bike as a warm-up for 5 minutes before moving to the Total Gym for 5 minutes of leg presses.
After those exercises, I would get a short massage and work on my range of motion exercises.
At 2 months, I am warming up with 10 minutes on a stationary bike . The load has increased on the Total Gym with more leg presses.
I am doing wall squats, stretches using bands, and an exercise ball for ankle slides. At least once a week the therapist measures my range of motion.
All of my offsite therapy sessions end in 10 minutes of icing. I continue to ice my knee at home after any activity.
Will I Have Severe Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery
Pain is to be expected after the initial knee replacement, but it should not be severe. The first few days after surgery should include the highest level of pain, but your doctor will send you home with pain medication adequate for your pain level.
Most people fully recover from knee replacement surgery in about six months. There may be a small amount of pain and soreness for the duration of the healing process, but this is normal. If you find yourself in severe pain after knee replacement surgery, call your doctor. You could be experiencing complications that require additional treatment.
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With Nowhere Else To Go Doctors Suggest Another Knee Replacement
- Study: Early diagnosis is very important for the treatment of intractable pain following total knee replacement. A reoperation conducted without identification of a specific reason carries a high risk of failure.
- With nowhere else to go, doctors suggest another knee replacement.
- Second knee replacement operation with a high rate of failure.
Problem: Fixing Pain After Total Knee Replacement May Include Amputation
Three in 1000 patients will need to have their leg amputated.
The causes of the amputation were:
- infection around the implant ,
- soft-tissue deficiency surrounding the implant ,
- severe bone loss ,
- fracture around the implant ,
- circulatory damage .
In 80% of the cases, there were more than 2 of these factors for amputation.
In research from April 2017, doctors writing in the European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology wrote:
Treatment for prosthetic knee replacement is becoming more common. Infection is an arthroplasty-related complication leading to prolonged hospitalization, multiple surgical procedures, permanent loss of the implant, impaired function, impaired quality of life, and even amputation of the limb.
The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for amputation in the periprosthetic infected knee through a case-control study, analyzing patients treated from January 2012 to November 2016 in a hospital with a high incidence of this diagnosis. We included 183 patients with periprosthetic knee infection 23 required amputation as definitive management .
They found that patients with:
- Increased surgical time > 120 min,
- diabetes mellitus had an increased risk of amputation.
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What Should I Expect
Its important to note that everyone has different pain level tolerances, and no two cases are the same because our knees are complex joints. Knees are the second-largest joints in the body, after the hip joints. As such, a knee replacement is a complicated surgery that involves balancing ligaments, cutting into the bones of the knee joint, and replacing parts of the knee joint with artificial parts. The manipulation of the knee joint to place the parts leads to the pain after the procedure. Postoperative pain after knee replacement surgery is related to the healing, stretching, bending, and rotating that the knee must do after surgery.
Why Do Some Patients Experience More Pain After A Knee Replacement Than Others
For a majority of people, a knee replacement can alleviate chronic knee problems, such as persistent pain and limited function. A relief from symptoms allows a return to a normal, active lifestyle. However, in some cases, patients may go on to experience prolonged knee pain following surgery. Find out more about knee replacement pain and what you can do to treat it.
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Genicular Nerve Block With Radiofrequency Ablation
Instead of more invasive surgical options, many patients turn to a genicular nerve block to treat and diagnose persistent knee pain. A genicular nerve block uses anesthetic injected into one or more of the genicular nerves to interrupt pain signals being sent to the brain.
Unfortunately, a genicular nerve blocks effects only last eight to 24 hours. Doctors use genicular nerve blocks to test the effectiveness of the procedure on a persons knee pain. Many patients who experience relief with genicular nerve blocks will then get radiofrequency ablation. When combined, these two procedures can offer pain relief that lasts anywhere from six months to a year.
A Realistic Assessment Of What We Can Do To Help With Your Pain After Knee Replacement
In our clinic, we try to provide information on helping people explore other treatment options before joint replacement. One of those options is simple dextrose Prolotherapy. This regenerative injection technique helps rebuild damaged ligaments and tendons.
When the patients have already had a joint replacement, we will do a physical examination of the knee to assess how we may be able to help.
- Prolotherapy fixes soft tissue, it cannot fix hardware failure,
- Prolotherapy works by stabilizes the knee by strengthening the natural muscle and bone attachments, ligaments, and tendons.
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Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery
You’ll usually be in hospital for 3 to 5 days, but recovery times can vary.
Once you’re able to be discharged, your hospital will give you advice about looking after your knee at home. You’ll need to use a frame or crutches at first and a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee.
Most people can stop using walking aids around 6 weeks after surgery, and start driving after 6 to 8 weeks.
Full recovery can take up to 2 years as scar tissue heals and your muscles are restored by exercise. A very small amount of people will continue to have some pain after 2 years.
Patients May Still Be Undergoing Knee Replacement For Degenerative Lumbar Spine And Hip Osteoarthritis
Patients may still be undergoing knee arthroplasty for degenerative lumbar spine and hip osteoarthritis. . . We suggest heightened awareness at pre-and post-operative assessment and thorough history and examination with the use of diagnostic injections to identify the cause of pain if there is doubt.
In other words, patients received a knee replacement when the cause of pain came from the hip and spine.
In the journal Modern Rheumatology, Japanese doctors wrote:
We suggest that rheumatologists be aware of hip disease masquerading as knee pain or low back pain.
In the case of chronic joint pain, a thorough examination is imperative in identifying the correct diagnosis. That sounds like common sense, but the sad truth is that the source of pain is often missed because of misinterpretation of MRI and other imaging scans. Please see our article on MRI accuracy.
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Revision Total Knee Replacement
According to what I have read, total knee replacement is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. In most cases it allow patients to live an active pain free life.
A knee replacement can fail for several reasons. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and lack of stability.
If your knee replacement fails or wears out your doctor may recommend that you have a second surgery called revision total knee replacement. In this procedure, your doctor will remove some or all of the parts from the original implants and replace them with new parts.
Just like your first surgery, the goal of revision surgery is to relieve pain and improve the function of your knee.
Revision surgery is longer and a more complex procedure.Most patients who have revision surgery experience good long-term outcomes.
Knee Replacement Recovery Tips
Here’s some top tips for four common questions about total knee replacement recovery time:
You can find the answers to loads more similar questions in the total knee replacement recovery questions section.
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Patients Had Knee Pain After A Knee Replacement Because After The Fact It Was Determined That Knee Replacement Was The Wrong Surgery The Knee Was Not The Problem And The Patient Was Inappropriately Rushed To Surgery
Are you getting a knee replacement because of undiagnosed back and hip pain? Above we spoke about doctors looking for knee pain that was actually coming from the spine, hip, ankle, and feet. The knee was perhaps not the problem and the patient was inappropriately rushed to surgery
Doctors warn that in the case of chronic knee pain, a thorough examination is imperative in identifying the correct diagnosis. That sounds like common sense, but the truth is that the source of pain is often missed and treatment then will present a significant challenge with less than desired results.
One study sought to understand why up to 20 percent of patients who undergo total knee replacement still have persistent pain and why secondary surgery rates are on the rise. Forty-five patients were studied. What the researchers found was somewhat shocking. The pain was not originating in the knee here is what they said: