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What Is Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery

Returning To Activities / Sports

What is the recovery after knee replacement surgery?

Here is some more guidance relating to specific activities and knee replacement recovery time:

  • You can resume many activities after 6-12 weeks, for example swimming
  • Some activities should be carried out with care e.g. golf dont wear shoes with spikes
  • Some activities are not advised following a total knee replacement as they put too much stress on the new knee joint. These include: jogging, contact sports e.g. basketball and football, squash, badminton, jumping activities and skiing. If you are unsure, discuss things with your doctor.

Pain and swelling can take up to 3 months to settle and knee replacement recovery time continues up to 2 years after your operation.

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

How Long Will I Be On Pain Medication After My Knee Replacement Surgery

Every patient experiences recovery from a knee replacement surgery differentially and as such, everyone will require pain medication at different intervals and for different amounts of time. There is no standard approach to this, although generally we do expect patients to be weaned off their narcotic analgesics within 2 to 3 weeks of the surgery and by 6 weeks after the surgery should only be requiring occasional Tylenol or a less potent analgesic to control their pain.

With that being said, there are a number of different factors that can affect a persons ability to tolerate pain medication or indeed their ability to have the pain medication kill their pain. As such, each medication regimen will be tailored to the individual. It is important to regularly communicate with your surgeon or healthcare provider regarding your experience of the pain and your current pain medication regimen, so that it can be altered to suit you and your needs.

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How Much Should I Be Walking After A Knee Replacement

Strictly speaking, there is no limit to the amount of walking that you can do following a knee replacement. Your surgeon will not place a distance or time limit on your walking activities, as most patients find that their knee that is still recovering from surgery, and this will limit them instead. Walking is an excellent exercise to help promote recovery and healing in the knee and many patients find that the more walking that they can do, the quicker they recover from the surgery and the more functional they are in the long term. However, walking should also be supplemented with other exercises that demand a greater range of motion out of the knee such as a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer.

What To Expect From Knee Replacement Recovery

Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline

Most patients are discharged from the hospital 3 to 5 days after knee replacement, with many patients going home in as little as 2 days. The average length of a hospital stay after a knee replacement surgery is 2 to 3 days. Read ahead to find out what to expect, in various aspects such as activity levels, pain management, incision care, etc when you get home after your knee replacement.

Activity level- You can expect to be up and moving the same day after your knee surgery. Most patients begin walking without support immediately after the surgery. After discharge from the hospital, light activity is recommended as it will help cut down swelling and will shorten the recovery time. Your orthopedic surgeon will recommend a regimen of exercises and recommend you to a good physiotherapist for your post-surgery rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Your orthopedist and physiotherapist will work closely with you for the coming weeks to monitor your progress and ensure you are recovering as well as possible. Physiotherapy will play an important role in gaining strength and increasing mobility with the new knee joint. This will also prove notably beneficial in the long run.

Sleep- After your knee surgery, it is quite common to face trouble sleeping. These tips below might help you sleep better after a knee replacement-

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What Is A Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement, also called knee arthroplasty or total knee replacement, is a surgical procedure toresurface a knee damaged by arthritis. Metal and plastic parts are used tocap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint, along with the kneecap.This surgery may be considered for someone who has severe arthritis or asevere knee injury.

Various types of arthritis may affect the knee joint. Osteoarthritis, adegenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and olderadults, may cause the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in theknees. Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of the synovialmembrane and results in excessive synovial fluid, can lead to pain andstiffness. Traumatic arthritis, arthritis due to injury, may cause damageto the cartilage of the knee.

The goal of knee replacement surgery is to resurface the parts of the kneejoint that have been damaged and to relieve knee pain that cannot becontrolled by other treatments.

How Can I Learn More About Recovering From A Knee Replacement

The best way to learn what to expect while recovering from knee replacement surgery is to talk to an expert orthopedist.

Our team of orthopedic doctors and orthopedic surgeons at TRIA are some of the best in the Midwest. Weve performed thousands of joint replacements, and 97 percent of our patients report being able to walk down stairs without difficulty a year after surgery.

When youre ready for surgery, our team of expert orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and other care providers will be by your side every step of the way from your first appointment through your recovery.

About Amy Haynes, PT, DPT

Amy Haynes, PT, DPT specializes in orthopedic physical therapy with an emphasis on total joint replacement and osteoarthritis. She enjoys helping patients remain independent within their home environments for as long as possible and continue their recreational past-times.

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Massage Around The Knee Often

Massage definitely was a plus in my recovery. My caregiver usually gave me at least one extended massage on the sides of my knee and on the back of my knee.

I massaged my knee myself before my 3 daily exercise sessions. A massage right before bedtime also felt great.

I used the product Free Up Massage Cream that my therapist recommended. Other kinds of lotion or cream work well too.

Surgical Treatment Of Knee Pain

What is knee replacement surgery?

Partial knee replacement: The surgeon replaces the damaged portions of the knee with plastic and metal parts.

Total knee replacement: In this procedure, the knee is replaced with an artificial joint. It requires a major surgery and hospitalization.

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What Is Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

Partial knee replacment is where the bone surfaces of only compartment of the knee joint are removed and replaced with implants or resurfaced, while the bone surfaces of other compartments as well as unaffected cartilage and other soft tissues are preserved.

Patients with unicompartmental knee arthritis have cartilage degeneration in only one section or compartment of the knee. In cases where nonsurgical techniques do not provide symptom relief, surgeons can remove damaged cartilage and bone in the diseased area only, while preserving the ligaments that help support the knee joint, explains , Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at HSS.

A prosthesiswhich may also be called an implanttakes the place of the damaged area of the knee, leaving the other compartments intact.

Over the past 15 years, improvements in surgical techniques and instrumentation have made partial knee replacement a viable option for a growing number of patients in fact, recent data suggests that anywhere from 10 to 15% of all patients with osteoarthritis of the knee may be eligible for the procedure.

Knee Replacement Recovery Tips To Maximize Healing

Recovering from a total knee replacement is a slow process and can feel, in the immediate postoperative period, like very little progress is being made. However, a dedicated and consistent approach to recovering will always yield the best results. It is important to try to mobilize as soon as possible after your knee replacement surgery. This will be tricky immediately following the surgery as you will feel sore and have some pain, which will hopefully be controlled by the pain medications your surgeon will prescribe you.

If your pain is poorly controlled, it is important to let your surgeon know this so that your analgesic regimen can be altered to suit your needs. In the immediate postoperative period, you will have physical therapist assistance in getting up and on your feet in a safe and timely manner. They will help you get used to the feeling of your new knee and will teach you how to walk safely while your knee and tissues within the knee are still recovering from the surgery.

X-ray showing Total Knee Replacement.

It is important that you continue physical therapy assistance in the longer term recovery from your knee replacement surgery, as studies have shown consistently that patients who undergo a dedicated and standardized physical therapy regimen to recover from that knee replacement experience much better outcomes than those who do not.

Read Also: How To Reduce Swelling After Total Knee Replacement

Will I Need To Use Crutches Or Other Assistive Devices After Knee Replacement Surgery

Yes. And depending on the type of surgery youve had , youll probably need to use an assistive device for at least a few weeks during recovery.

Assistive devices make certain activities like walking, using the restroom and dressing easier to do. They also help keep you safe.

The types of assistive devices youll need after knee replacement surgery depend on your condition, but common devices include:

  • Walking aids like crutches, canes or walkers
  • Shoehorns and sock aids
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Tub chair

The good news is some assistive devices may be covered by your insurance, so be sure to check with your insurance provider before you go in for surgery.

Install Fall Prevention Equipment

11 Fast Recovery Tips from Total Knee Replacement ...

While you wont be walking much right after your knee surgery, its inevitable that youll need to move around your house. Walking is an essential part of your recovery.

A loss of balance and a need for space can increase the risk of a fall. Apart from decluttering, other preventive measures include:

  • installing a handrail in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet
  • having a bath mat ready to prevent slipping
  • using a raised toilet seat
  • covering outside steps with ramps
  • adding texture to slippery floors
  • wearing nonskid socks

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Who May Not Qualify For A Knee Replacement Surgery

If knee pain is treatable with regular medication, doctors would avoid recommending a knee replacement surgery. Other patients who may not qualify for this form of treatment include people who are obese. Excess body fat can weigh on the newly fitted prosthetics and cause them to move out of place. Patients who have weak muscles in the thigh are also discouraged from undergoing a knee replacement surgery.

How Long Will My New Joint Last

In recent years, improvements in medical equipment and surgical techniques have meant that many knee replacements last longer than they did in the past.

A new study looking at over 6,000 people who have had knee replacement shows:

  • More than 4 in 5 people who have total knee replacements can expect them to last for at least 25 years.
  • 7 in 10 people who have a unicompartmental knee replacement can expect it to last for at least 25 years.

Clearly this will vary between different people, and you still need to take care of your new knee.

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Techniques Used In Knee Replacement Surgery

Now that we have seen the main types of knee replacement surgery, lets quickly take a look at the techniques employed by surgeons. There are two main types of techniques used for a knee replacement surgery. The first is the traditional approach which involves a large incision and a greater recovery time. The second technique is known as MIS or minimally invasive surgery. In the minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon makes a relatively smaller cut around 3 inches for the procedure.

Due to advancements in medical technology, the patient can generally expect similar results from both these approaches to knee surgery. The only major difference to note would be the size of the incision done to carry out the operation.

Looking At Recovery After The Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee Replacement Surgery | What to Expect

The doctor will also discuss prognosis prior to the actual surgery. The patient will be advised on the steps they may need to take to make recovery a smoother process.

The duration of a patients stay in the hospital after the knee replacement surgery will usually depend on the type of surgery they have undergone, their own health condition, and whether they have any kind of assistance at home. If the patient lives alone, they may need to stay hospitalised for longer in order to get good support and care for better recovery.

  • Physiotherapy sessions

Physical therapy sessions form an important part of the recovery process after a knee replacement surgery. These sessions will begin once the doctor feels the patient is able to perform the exercises required. Physiotherapy sessions will take place in the hospital while the patient is admitted and even continue after discharge. While the exercises may cause initial discomfort, the long-term benefits are certain noteworthy.

  • Avoid putting pressure on the knee

Patients must be very careful and avoid putting pressure on their knees soon after their surgery. They must avoid high-intensity exercises such as running and not life heavy objects. Following these instructions can aid in maintaining the fitted prosthetics in good condition for a longer span of time.

  • Follow prescription
  • Take due precaution
  • Know what activities are allowed post-surgery

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What Not To Do After A Knee Replacement

As previously mentioned, removing the dressings too early or before you are instructed to do so by your healthcare provider will increase the risk of developing an infection. This is important to avoid and as such leaving your dressings and following the postoperative care instructions that you are given is essential.

Trying to do too much too quickly is a common scenario particularly in younger patients. Recovery from the knee replacement is a slow process and many patients want to be back to a baseline level of activity within a few weeks of the surgery. This is simply not possible and we would encourage you to be patient and consistent with your exercises and rehabilitation protocols. Regular communication with your surgeon or healthcare provider if you have any concerns will be able to reassure you of your progress through the process of recovering.

Avoid trying to enter into sporting activity too quickly. Although it does frustrate patients when find they are unable to perform their sports as quickly as they want after the surgery, it can also put you at risk of developing an injury around tissues that are still in the process of healing. This can cause problematic injuries such as disruptions to your extensor mechanism of your knee and even periprosthetic fractures. These are major injuries that usually require surgical intervention and should be avoided at all costs.

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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Learn What To Expect And How To Prepare From The Doctors Who Perform This Operation Every Day And The Patients Who Have Been Through Knee Surgery Successfully

If your knee arthritis has gotten so bad that your medication and physical therapy are no longer enough to keep the pain at bay or prevent mobility issues, it is a good time to consider knee replacement surgery. The procedure has come a long way from the extended hospital stays, bed rest, and narcotics-based pain relief of the past.

Fifteen to 20 years ago we told patients to wait until they could no longer take the pain of osteoarthritis to consider surgery, but thats not the case anymore, says P. Maxwell Courtney, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. With todays advances, minimally invasive techniques, and accelerated rehab and recovery protocols, we now tell patients if the pain is limiting your daily activities and youve exhausted conservative options like injections and physical therapy its time to consider surgery.

That was certainly the case for Sharon Barnes, a teacher from Maine whose pain got so bad she couldnt sleep. My doctor said I had osteoarthritis in both knees it was literally bone on bone, she remembers. We did hyaluronic acid injections, and that got me about a year then didnt work as well. Thats when we started discussing surgery.

No 7 A Fresh Pair Of Shoes

Recovery Time on a Total Knee Replacement

If youre like me, maybe you have a pair of shoes that you love. Maybe its the look, or maybe their comfortable so you keep them clean and looking like new.

Most people dont realize it but shoes wear down over time. We tend to get comfortable with our shoes plus they can be a considerable investment .

During your rehabilitation, you should be walking and doing physical therapy. Dont take my word for it. According to Livestrong, running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Of course you wont be running but even if you walk, youll reach 300 miles in no time at all.

For your TKR recovery choose a pair of shoes that are for exercise these can be worn around the house as well. We like a good pair of Nike Air Max because of the extra air cushion in the heel.

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