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.
Think That Walking And Moving Around Is The Major Achievement
Patients mistakenly think that walking is a major achievement after surgery and that walking without a walker is even better. Other healthcare professionals can misguidedly feed into that misconception making the problem even worse. The truth is that getting up and moving around after surgery is encouraged but for the first two weeks you should be protecting the joint from full weight bearing forces by using the walker. This allows you to carry a percentage of your body weight through your arms instead of on your surgical knee.
During your knee replacement surgery, the ends of your long bones have been cut and a prothesis placed over the top. Bone that has been cut can be very painful, just ask someone who has had a small piece of bone taken from their iliac crest for use in a back;surgery. That bone removal site can ache for months.
If you walk around without any protection for your new knee you will likely inflame and aggravate the bones. This can cause a person to have a real problem controlling their pain. All things considered you dont want to be dealing with more pain than is already associated with the post surgical period. So use your walker.this means actually putting weight through your arms. A 4 wheeled walker is a horrible choice for this. Get the regular 2 wheeled walker and slow down a bit. Your knee will thank you and your recovery will go much faster.
Use Pain Medications With Care
Except in very rare cases, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons advises against using opioid medications for knee osteoarthritis. Opiate pain relievers, in addition to being addictive, are not proven to address knee pain over the long term any better than nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs .;;
Though safer than opioid drugs, NSAIDs arent for everyone, and Valaik advises caution in using them. Even over-the-counter drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen can have side effects, so check with your doctor, he says.
You can get an increase in blood pressure with NSAIDs. Larger studies have linked some of these pain relievers with a small increase in the risk of heart attack.
And the more you take, the more likely you are to have heartburn, stomach irritation or even bleeding ulcers, he notes.
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What Is A Total Knee Replacement
A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure whereby the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The knee is a hinge joint that provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. The thighbone abuts the large bone of the lower leg at the knee joint.
During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic “button” may also be added under the kneecap surface. The artificial components of a total knee replacement are referred to as the prosthesis.
The posterior cruciate ligament is a tissue that normally stabilizes each side of the knee joint so that the lower leg cannot slide backward in relation to the thighbone. In total knee replacement surgery, this ligament is either retained, sacrificed, or substituted by a polyethylene post. Each of these various designs of total knee replacement has its own particular benefits and risks.
How Do I Know If I Need Knee Replacement Surgery
You may need surgery if:
- Your knees are stiff and swollen.
- There is pain throughout the day, even at rest.
- Walking, getting up or climbing stairs is difficult and painful.
- Medication and therapy do not offer enough relief.
- Knee cartilage is so damaged and worn away that you are walking “bone on bone,” in which the bones of the joint are scraping together.
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Knee Replacement Recovery Exercises
Although you will be advised on specific exercises that you can do by your physical therapist, the exercises that you should focus on the most, particularly in the early recovery period, are exercises that work on range of motion, degree of bend in the knee as well as developing strength in the quadriceps muscles. As soon as you feel you are able to get onto a stationary or recumbent bike, you should do so. This is an excellent exercise as it is very low impact, but works on range of motion and strength, and the knee and can be aided by the contralateral side.
Working on range of motion and strength can be achieved by dangling your leg over the side of a chair or bed and extending the knee so that the leg is fully outstretched and holding it against gravity for several seconds before then allowing gravity to bend the knee again. This is a very simple exercise, but also very effective and can be done anywhere with relative ease and does not require any special equipment.
Can I Avoid Or Postpone A Knee Replacement
The choice on whether to have surgery to address arthritis of the knee joint depends on multiple factors, including:
- the condition of the knee joint
- the patientâs age and activity level
In cases where the damage from arthritis is minimal, and/or if the patient does not have a very active lifestyle, nonsurgical treatments by be tried, including:
- physical therapy
- , such as ibuprofen
- weight loss to reduce pressure on the knee
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Knee Replacement Exercises To Avoid
Most patients who are motivated try to do too much too quickly and will want to get into the weight room to work on strengthening their knee before the knee is ready to do this. Particular exercises that you should avoid are resisted knee extensions, as these place a great deal of stress on the patellofemoral joint and will aggravate and exacerbate pain unnecessarily especially in the early postoperative period. It is also unnecessary to perform any resisted squats too early on in your recovery. Body weight squats up against a wall are usually a good place to start and over time, you should be able to gradually work your way back up to weighted squats.
Tests Before Knee Replacement Surgery
About six weeks or so before your operation you will have an appointment for a ‘pre-admission’ or ‘pre-assessment’ clinic. At this clinic a nurse will assess your fitness for your knee surgery.
There are several tests that may be needed and they include:
- Blood tests – to check that you aren’t anaemic and that your kidneys and liver are working well enough for you to undergo the operation.
- Urine test – to make sure you haven’t got a urine infection and that there isn’t any glucose in your urine.
- Blood pressure.
- Infection screen – this includes looking for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus . MRSA is a germ that is difficult to treat and can cause complications of a knee replacement.
- A heart tracing .
You may have the chance to speak with an anaesthetist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or social worker at this clinic but this isn’t always possible.
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Plan Meals Ahead Of Time
If you have a reliable caregiver that can prepare meals for you after TKR you are fortunate. Otherwise, you might consider preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
Packaged cereal for breakfast is much easier than frying eggs, bacon and making toast. You may consider restaurants that deliver meals and some communities have meals on wheels for seniors.
Keep snacks and water close to where you will be sitting during the day so that they are within reach.
Waste Time On The Easy Exercises
Its simple. Human beings seek pleasure and avoid pain. The harder exercises like bending your knee) can be tough but they get massively better each day if you just stay at it. Many people are adept at;avoiding the tough exercises by working extra on the easy exercises and guess what they will prolong their recovery time from total knee replacement, an outcome that virtually;no one wants.
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Radiofrequency Ablation For Knee Pain
If all of these methods fail to control your knee pain from osteoarthritis, there are still options. Radiofrequency ablation controls pain in the knees by destroying the sensory nerves that carry the pain signal from the knee to the brain.
RFA is likely a temporary fix, as nerves will grow back in six months to two years, and the pain may return.
Living With A Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement may greatly improve function, but most patients will not be able to do more than they did before the onset of arthritis.
A replacement knee may feel different than a natural knee. One small study3 found that most people report being aware of their new knees even 12 months after surgery. Their awareness was most notable when climbing stairs, kneeling, or rising from a chair. About half of the people in the study also reported symptoms such as knee stiffness , swelling, crackling, or numbness.
These symptoms can exist even though overall knee function is improved and knee pain is decreased. These symptoms do not mean the knee replacement surgery was not successful or that patients regretted having the surgery.
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Total Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery
Patients are encouraged to begin ambulation the same day as their knee replacement surgery, with the aid of a walker or other orthopedic device. A patient typically stays in the hospital for 1 to 2 days, and longer if needed. Some may be able to go home the same day of their surgery if their medical team feels it is safe to do so. Patients who require extra attention or do not have home support may be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center, but every effort is made to help the patient return to their home environment with additional support.
Anterior view of a knee that has undergone a total knee replacement.
How Much Time Will I Have To Be Off Work For Knee Replacement Surgery
Many patients are eager to know when they can return to work and resume their normal activities after knee replacement surgery. While the desire for a speedy recovery is nearly universal among patients, less understood and appreciated is the value of recovery time itself. Provided a patients recovery is uncomplicated, patients can return to office or similar light work at six weeks. Return to work should be phased, however, with three half-days in the first week, two full days in the second week, five half-days in the third week, and full-time by week four.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery takes a minimum of three months, but most likely six. A full recovery can take around eight to ten months. The degree of improvement during rehabilitation often depends on the strength of your body before surgery, your body weight, and your ability to manage pain. Other variables that factor into recovery time include the type of surgery and the age of the patient.
If you want to return to work as soon as possible, recognize physical therapy as your number one aim. The exercises that are given to you by a post-op specialist will help lay the foundation for a successful and speedy recovery. You will still find yourself with lots of downtime, but it is important to give your body the rest it needs. Within a few weeks, most patients can resume their normal daily activities.
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Eight Facts: All About The Recovery Time For Total Knee Replacement
The knee is the largest joint of the body and it is responsible for many of the common functions that we rely on to get through daily life. Have you ever considered what life would be like without your knees? We often dont even realize just how much work these important joints do for us on a daily basis. From supporting the bodys weight, to squatting, pivoting and more, the knees are essential parts of a healthy, active body.;
- Severe, chronic pain
- Surrounding muscle weakness
- Reduced function and limited range of motion
Where to Have SurgeryFacts About the Recovery Time for Total Knee ReplacementAfter ten years, a well-performed knee replacement surgery has a 98% chance of success!
For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.
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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Rehabilitation After Knee Replacement Surgery
Before you even leave the hospital, you and a physical therapist will already begin implementing a physical therapy regimen. This will consist of exercises which are designed to help you increase strength and flexibility in your knee. A physical therapist will likely come to your home a number of times and show you special exercises and stretches, and you will be encouraged to continue performing these on a daily basis to keep your new knee healthy and strong.
Prepare A Recovery Area
Due to mobility limitations, you will likely do a lot of sitting during the first few weeks after your return from the hospital.
Designate a recovery area with a sturdy chair to relax in. The chair should be high enough that it is easy to sit down and get up from. It should have arms and a solid back so you dont fall.
A recliner is a good choice because you can elevate your legs. Place a sturdy footstool in front of your chair if you dont have a recliner. Some chairs have a device to tilt you slightly forward, making it easier to get up.
Your recovery area should also contain items within arms reach, in case you need them quickly.
Consider having the following items on hand near your chair:
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Things No One Ever Tells You About Getting A Knee Replacement
Heres what you need to know thats not in the brochure:;1. You might not be a good candidate.A study published last year by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond questioned the value of knee replacement for some of the people rushing to get it. After analyzing data from a large study of men and women who had the operation, the researchers found that fully one-third of them were not actually good candidates for the surgery, which is why they got only a very modest benefita 2-point improvement on a common measure of knee function, compared with a 20-point improvement for people who started out with really bad knees.
“Pain that doesnt go away and moderate to severe arthritis are necessary for a knee replacement to do its job,” Lajam says. “If you have the surgery, but its actually a problem of nerve pain, hip pain, or circulation, its not going to help you.” The advice here is not to wait until your knees are completely destroyed before seeking surgery, but to make sure that youve tried other measures first and that you meet both criteriaconsistent pain and advanced arthritis.
Do Your Exercises Even Though It Hurts
The rehab is going to hurt. Your pain will depend on your own pain threshold. Even though it hurts to exercise, do your best and persevere.
Remember the old saying, no pain no gain. It was easier for me to do my rehab and exercises when the therapist was present and encouraging me.
When I had to do another two sets of the same exercises after she left and after I left the physical therapy office, it was up to me to complete the routine. Nobody was watching and it is tempting to take shortcuts. Dont take shortcuts.
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