Four To Six Weeks After Surgery
After about a month, your knee strength will improve. Plus, youll feel more comfortable as your knee pain and swelling decreases.
Depending on the type of knee replacement you had and how your recovery has been going, you may rely less or not at all on certain assistive devices.
During this phase of physical therapy, your physical therapist might introduce more low-impact activities like swimming, cycling or longer walks. The goal will be to improve your endurance so youre able to get back to typical daily activities.
At this phase, you will also work toward bending your knee to 120 degrees, begin climbing stairs and be able to return to light household activities and chores.
What Was Done To My Knee During My Total Knee Replacement Surgery
- A knee replacement surgery is performed under Spinal/general anesthesia.
- Once the anesthesia is administered, the orthopedic surgeon from BLK-Max Hospital will make an incision and remove the damaged surfaces of the knee joint. This could involve cartilage or bone that has undergone degeneration due to disease or injury. These will be replaced with a knee prosthesis made from high-grade polymers or metal alloys.
- The prosthetic knee is attached to the bone and cemented with surgical-grade cement.
- The incision is then closed and a drain may be placed to remove excess fluid.
Dont Forget The Scar Cream
Use scar cream and an aloe based lotion often. I always applied it first thing in the morning as well as before and after my 3 exercise sessions.
It is inexpensive and ensures the scar is hydrated, making it more comfortable to bend especially during the range of motion exercises. At my age, I wasnt as worried about the cosmetic appearance of the scar, but if you are concerned, apply the scar cream often.
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Refuse The Urge To Be Sedentary
Besides prescribed exercise routines, your therapist will want you to take walks. Make yourself get out of the recliner and outside for at least 3 walks a day once your therapist gives you the go ahead.
If your caregiver or a friend or family member will walk with you, their encouragement and conversation make taking walks easier. Do ankle pumps and ankle rolls even when you are sitting down.
Should You Have Both Knees Replaced At The Same Time
When your knees are stiff, painful, and cant perform their job anymore due to arthritis, a complex fracture, or an injury that wont heal, you may need knee replacement surgery. If both knees are shot, you face a dilemma: Should you replace them at the same time and get the whole thing over with, or deal with one surgery at a time?
At Texas Orthopaedic Associates LLP with locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Plano, Texas, areas our expert orthopedists only recommend knee surgery when other, less-invasive options have failed. Knee replacement surgery removes damaged tissue, resurfaces the joint bones, and then separates the bones with a spacer so your knee can move freely and without pain again.
If you need to replace both knees, you can choose for either a simultaneous bilateral knee replacement or a staged bilateral knee replacement . To choose between simultaneous or staged surgeries, ask yourself the following questions:
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When Can I Get Back To My Usual Activities
The timing for getting back to typical activities varies from person to person. The one thing that doesnt vary is the need for physical therapy to help get you there.
Heres a high-level look of the progress you can expect to see in the first three months of recovery with regular physical therapy:
- One month after surgery: Youll probably start doing low-impact, daily activities like driving, returning to work, household chores and regular errands.
- Two months after surgery: Around the seven-week mark, you can likely start enjoying low-impact physical activities again. Many of my patients love getting active by swimming, biking and taking longer walks at this point in their recovery.
- Three months after surgery: You may be able to return to high-impact physical activity like running, skiing or other activities you enjoy. Youll need to start slow and be gentle with yourself, but youll be able to work up to the level of activity you were used to.
All that said, its important to follow your post-op surgery instructions including regular follow-ups with your surgeon. Theyll let you know what youre ready for during your follow-up visits and coordinate recommendations with your physical therapist.
If youre not sure an activity will be safe on your new knee, dont hesitate to ask your surgeon or physical therapist.
Total Knee Replacement Facts
- Patients with severe destruction of the knee joint associated with progressive pain and impaired function may be candidates for total knee replacement.
- Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for knee replacement operation in the U.S.
- Risks of total knee replacement surgery have been identified.
- Physical therapy is an essential part of rehabilitation after total knee replacement.
- Patients with artificial joints are recommended to take antibiotics before, during, and after any elective invasive procedures .
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Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery
For the majority of people knee replacements are very successful. There is a lot of evidence from research showing that patients have less pain and are much more mobile after surgery and this often greatly improves their quality of life. Outcomes are getting better too, as more research is carried out on what the best operation is and how to reduce the risk of complications.
However about 8 people out of 100 are unhappy with their knee replacement 2-17 years later. If they have had to have their knee replaced a second time , they are twice as likely to be unhappy with the outcome.
How Long Does A Knee Replacement Last
Patients can extend the life of their knee replacements by complying with their physical therapy routines and avoiding high-impact activities, such as jumping or jogging. High impact activities cause friction between the man-made components of the replacement knee, causing wear and tear.
Revision Knee Replacement SurgeryIf the initial knee replacement components need to be replaced for any reason, a second surgery called a revision total knee replacement may be needed. Wear-and-tear on components, component loosening, infection, and knee joint instability are the most common possible causes for needing revision surgery. Other reasons include knee stiffness and bone fractures.
Patients should talk to their doctors about when is the best time to schedule knee replacement surgery.
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Use Hiking Poles In The First Few Month
You will need to use a walker immediately after TKR. In a few days, you will transition to hiking poles or a cane.
I recommend walking poles and it is important to have them on hand. The poles will help you maintain balance when you begin walking again and they will also take some weight off of the knee and hip.
Exercise Limitations After A Knee Replacement
Can you walk too much after knee replacement surgery? Like any activity, moderation is key. While walking is generally a highly recommended post-surgery activity, your excitement to get moving should be balanced with a respect for your healing body.
What is an optimal amount of walking after knee replacement surgery? Most physical therapists recommend walking as much as you find comfortable. Start with small, manageable steps over short distances and use an assistive device whenever needed. Gradually work your way up until you can walk longer distances without discomfort. Doing too much exercise can lead to pain and swelling, hindering your recovery.
Some other tips on what to do and what not to do after knee replacement surgery include:
- Avoid running or jumping until your knee is fully healed.
- Perform exercises in water or go swimming.
- Avoid high-impact sports involving quickly changing directions.
- Try cycling once you can walk without assistance recumbent bikes are a great option.
- Avoid walking on rough, uneven surfaces right after surgery use a treadmill instead.
- Ease into strength training.
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Take Care Of Yourself
It can be difficult to care for someone else if you arent taking the time to care for yourself. Make sure to take breaks and do things you enjoy, such as hobbies, visiting friends, or scheduling some alone time.
Try going for a walk, reading a book, or meditating regularly to keep stress levels down. Dont be afraid to ask other friends or family members for help, especially if you feel overworked or overwhelmed.
Care After The Operation
Please give some thought as to how you will be looked after once you have had the operation, well in advance. Most people like to be independent, but you are going to need support with day-to-day activities for a while. If you have an able-bodied partner, this might fall to them, but otherwise you may need a friend or relative to come to stay with you for a while. Some people may arrange to stay in a care home until they have their mobility and independence back.
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Provide Motivation For Rehab And Exercises
Adhering to a rehab plan is critical. For many people, this means walking for 30 minutes two or three times per day. Doctors may also recommend exercising for an extra 20 to 30 minutes two or three times per day.
The person may find that walking or exercising is painful. This is normal. If they express a desire to discontinue with their rehabilitation plan, remind them that what theyre feeling is common and that rehab will help speed up their recovery.
Helping them chart their efforts, results, and progress may help keep them motivated. Exercising and walking with them may also help keep them on track.
What Is Recovery From Partial Knee Replacement Like
Following surgery, most patients undergoing partial knee replacement can expect to spend one to two nights in the hospital. At HSS, most patients are able to walk with assistance, or independently, on the same day as their surgery. Typically, the patient is given a cane within a week of surgery to allow for increased independence and begins outpatient rehabilitation. Patients are often finished taking prescription pain medication within four weeks post-surgery.
Partial knee replacement usually involves minimal blood loss and is associated with a low rate of complications most patients can expect to be back to their daily activities within three to six weeks. Many patients find that after undergoing physical rehabilitation, they are able to return to sports such as golf, within six to ten weeks.
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What You Can Do
Recovering from total knee replacement surgery can be challenging, especially without the help of friends and family members.
For many people, the first few days at home are the most difficult. The person youre caring for is likely to be tired and in pain. They may be frustrated or scared because its difficult for them to get around and do things on their own.
This is when youre most needed. Its important to be patient with your loved one as you adapt to your new role. Here are 10 things you can do to help make this transition smooth.
Preparing the home ahead of time can help ensure a smooth recovery. You may wish to set up a recovery room on the first floor. This room should house anything you may need, including:
- pillows for elevating the lower leg
- a bedside commode or urinal if the bathroom isnt accessible
- a bed that isnt too high or low off the ground
- ice packs for the knee
- a telephone, or cellphone and a charger, to call for help
- easily accessible, identifiable, and neatly arranged medications
- a walker or crutches
- lights or lamps with easy controls
- clean, dry linens
Be sure to stock up on food and make sure useful items are easily accessible. Remove items from the floor that could cause a fall.
Standing, sitting, and moving from room to room may be difficult for the person youre caring for. You may need to help them get around and complete daily tasks. This may mean preparing meals or helping with personal hygiene.
What To Expect During Recovery
Many patients considering a total knee replacement want to know how long walking again will take. Fortunately, walking with an assisted device such as a walker, cane, or crutches will begin within 24 hours of surgery. If all goes well, patients are discharged home within 2-3 days after surgery. Physical therapy can be completed at an outpatient clinic or at home. Full rehabilitation will take approximately 8 weeks.
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Who Should Consider Total Knee Replacement Surgery
It is usually reasonable to try a number of non-operative interventions before considering knee replacement surgery of any type. Prior to surgery an orthopedic surgeon may offer medications knee injections or exercises. A surgeon may talk to patients about activity modification weight loss or use of a cane.
The decision to undergo the total knee replacement is a âquality of lifeâ choice. Patients typically have the procedure when they find themselves avoiding activities that they used to enjoy because of knee pain. When basic activities of daily lifeâlike walking shopping or reasonable recreational pastimesâare inhibited or prevented by the knee pain it may be reasonable to consider the surgery.
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Plan Activities That You Can Do During Recovery
Plan some sedentary activities that you can accomplish while recovering. Puzzles, video games, and TV can occupy your recovery time.
However, you may want to make better use of your time. You may have a hobby or a project or two that you have been wanting to do such as sorting old photographs, writing letters, knitting, reading or drawing to name a few.
Have materials nearby and ready so that they are easy to access once you feel like doing something.
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How Long Does Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery Take
When patients and their orthopedic surgeons agree that knee replacement surgery is a good option, one of the first questions or concerns usually is how long will the recovery process take? The simple answer would be about 13 weeks to recover. This timeline is dependant on a lot of factors such as type of procedure, limiting complications, and being consistent with their doctor and physical therapy visits.
Patients typically have a good understanding of the benefits of having a knee replaced, but they also appreciate knowing what is required to reach those benefits. A knee replacement, otherwise known as knee arthroplasty, is one of the most successful surgeries performed throughout the world. If you want to be a part of the 90% of people with a well-functioning knee, 15 years post-surgery, understanding each part of the recovery process can help you with that goal.
Balanced Physical Therapy has combined real-world experience with proven clinical research from around the internet to help you better understand each part of the recovery process, specific timelines for recovery, and why each element is essential.
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
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How Successful Is Surgery
Orthopedic surgeons have strict criteria to follow when deciding if a partial knee replacement is suitable to ensure they work and Physical Therapists are specially trained to help you make the best knee replacement recovery possible.
Studies looking at partial knee replacement recovery have shown that after:
- 10 years: approx 98% of partial knee replacements are still working
- 20 years: approx 92% are still working – 7% higher than Total Knee Replacements
Occasionally the fittings may come loose or arthritis may develop in the other side of the knee in which case a total knee replacementwill be performed. For more information see the risks and problems page.
How Long Should You Do Exercises After Knee Replacement
Most orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists recommend exercising for at least 20 to 30 minutes daily, whether its walking or stretching. As you progress through your recovery timeline and your knee gains strength, you can try walking or stretching for 20 to 30 minutes at a time multiple times a day.
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Knee Replacement Recovery: Weeks 4 To 6
Knee pain and function greatly improve during the first few weeks after knee replacement surgery. Significant improvements continue during weeks 4 through 6. By week 6, the majority of patients are off pain medications and have resumed their day-to-day routines.
To achieve this post-surgical success, knee replacement patients continue physical therapy, pain management, and avoidance of risky behaviors.