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.
A Physical Therapy Timeline
If youre having physical therapy in Myrtle Beach or in any of the surrounding Horry County areas we serve, you will have an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. Therefore, there may be some slight variations of this timeline. However, it should provide you with an idea of how long youll need physical therapy after a knee replacement.
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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Providing Better After Care For Patients
We’re funding research which aims to provide a standardised approach and assessment for virtual clinic follow-up of total joint replacement patients and subsequent management of patients identified as ‘at risk’ by this approach. This study would enable us to deliver better and more streamlined after care for patients.
How Soon Will I Be Up And About
The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible. If you’ve had keyhole surgery or are on an enhanced recovery programme, you may be able to walk on the same day as your operation. Generally, you’ll be helped to stand within 12 to 24 hours after your operation.
Walking with a frame or crutches is encouraged. Most people are able to walk independently with sticks after about a week.
During your stay in hospital, a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee. You can usually begin these the day after your operation. It’s important to follow the physiotherapist’s advice to avoid complications or dislocation of your new joint.
It’s normal to have initial discomfort while walking and exercising, and your legs and feet may be swollen.
You may be put on a passive motion machine to restore movement in your knee and leg. This support will slowly move your knee while you are in bed. It helps to decrease swelling by keeping your leg raised and helps improve your circulation.
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Sports With High Impact Or Quickly Changing Directions
While recovering from knee replacement surgery, avoid participating in contact sports or sports that may lead to a sudden twisting or jerking of the knee. Some examples include:
. Its important to work with your orthopedic surgeon after surgery to build the best program possible.
Here are some examples of exercises that surgeons recommend at different stages of recovery.
There Are Very Few Long
The main thing I tell my patients to avoid is long-distance running. Its high impact and repetitive, and it puts a lot of force on your knee. Most other physical activities and sports are fine. Whats more important is that you do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Some people are bothered by kneeling because it compresses the joint and puts direct pressure on it. Theres no harm in kneeling, but if it bothers you, you should put a cushion underneath your knee, especially if youre kneeling on a hard surface.
The main reason we put limitations on your activities is that we want your implants to last a lifetime. If you are younger in your 40s or 50s, for example its more important for you to follow these restrictions. We dont have a set lifespan for these implants, but past experience has shown that the vast majority of knee implants last at least 20 to 30 years. Our goal, however, is for them to last a lifetime.
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Here Is An Overview Of What You Can Expect During These 12 Weeks:
- Days 1 3: In the hospital, you will work with a physical therapist and occupational therapist to work on straightening and bending the knee.
- Discharge Day: Most people are discharged from the hospital within a few days. You will be sent home with specific instructions for care, medication, and therapy.
- Week 3: By the time you reach week three, you will be able to move around a little more, and the pain will be decreasing.
- Weeks 4 6: The most noticeable improvements in your knee happen during this time if you are consistent with your rehab and exercise activities.
- Weeks 7 11: Physical therapy and rehabilitation continue. At this point, you will be working on range of motion, mobility, and strengthening the muscles.
- Week 12: You can start to return to normal activities but still need to avoid high-impact exercise .
Beyond this initial recovery time, you will notice that the pain will continue to decrease, and your function will improve.
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Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery Time
Total Knee Replacement Recovery and Aftercare
You had a total knee replacement. The doctor replaced the worn ends of the bones that connect to your knee with plastic and metal parts.
When you leave the hospital, you should be able to move around with a walker or crutches. But you will need someone to help you at home for the next few weeks or until you have more energy and can move around better. If you need more extensive rehab, you may go to a specialized rehab centre for more treatment.
You will go home with a bandage and stitches, staples, tissue glue, or tape strips. Change the bandage as your doctor tells you to. If you have stitches or staples, your doctor will remove them 10 to 21 days after your surgery. Glue or tape strips will fall off on their own over time. You may still have some mild pain, and the area may be swollen for 3 to 6 months after surgery.
Your knee will continue to improve for 6 to 12 months. You will probably use a walker for 1 to 3 weeks and then use crutches. When you are ready, you can use a cane. You will probably be able to walk on your own in 4 to 8 weeks.
How long it will take to walk on your own, return to normal activities, and go back to work depends on your health and how well your rehabilitation program goes. The better you do with your rehab exercises, the quicker you will get your strength and movement back.
How can you care for yourself at home?
. Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
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When To Get A Knee Replacement
- Frederick Health
Do you have pain in your knees when you walk, hike, or sit down? Surgery is a last resort for many, but you can make your condition worse by putting off a knee replacement. Knee replacement surgery can help relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints. While the idea might be scary, knee replacements are extremely common. In fact, more than 1 in 10 Americans will have a knee replacement by the time theyre 80. So, how do you know when its time?
When to Consider Knee Replacement Surgery
In many cases, your doctor will recommend alternative treatments like physical therapy and exercise before suggesting surgery. If youre overweight, your doctor will recommend losing weight before considering a knee replacement, since weight loss can often reduce knee and other joint pain. If these alternative methods dont work, knee replacement may be recommended. Heres what you should think about when considering surgery:
How to Prepare for Recovery
If you and your doctor decide knee replacement surgery is the right decision, youll need to prepare for your recovery. You may need to use crutches or a walker for several weeks after your procedure. Make sure you have a ride home from the hospital and someone to help with everyday tasks, such as cooking, bathing, doing laundry, and running errands.
Dont Participate In High Impact Sports
High intensity, high impact sports such as hockey, soccer, football, handball, basketball, and tennis put stress on the knees and increase the risk of injury. Its best to stick with low-impact sports that minimize pressure on your new knee, including swimming, cycling, golfing, kayaking, or scuba diving.
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Taking Care Of Your New Knee Joint
After you have knee replacement surgery, you will need to be careful about how you move your knee, especially for the first few months after surgery.
In time, you should be able to return to your previous level of activity. But even then, you will need to move carefully so that you do not injure your new knee replacement. Be sure to get your home ready for when you return, so you can move more easily and prevent falls.
Getting Back To Normal
It will be some weeks before you recover from your operation and start to feel the benefits of your new knee joint. Make sure you have no major commitments including long-haul air travel for the first six weeks after the operation.
Keeping up your exercises will make a big difference to your recovery time. Youll probably need painkillers as the exercise can be painful at first. Gradually youll be able to build up the exercises to strengthen your muscles so that you can move more easily.
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Activities With A High Risk Of Falling
After a total knee replacement, loss of strength, range of motion, and balance lead to an increased risk of falling. A fall can damage the prosthesis or interfere with the healing process.
A 2018 study found that 17.2 percent of a group of 134 people who had undergone a knee replacement fell at least once within 6 months of their operation. Roughly two-thirds of these falls occurred when walking.
Some lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk of falling include:
- using the handrail when going up and down the stairs
- using a rubber mat or shower chair when showering
- sitting down when putting on shorts or pants
- keeping the floor clear of stray toys, slippery rugs, and other objects that pose a tripping hazard
- avoiding slippery terrains like mud, ice, or wet grass
Dangers Of Doing Certain Exercises Too Soon
Performing movements or exercises that are too intense can increase the chances of loosening or fracturing the bones around the implant.
Pushing too much can also lead to increased pain and swelling around the knee, slowing down the rehabilitation process and making it more difficult to exercise.
Symptoms of pushing too hard during the recovery program might include:
- increased pain
- swelling of the knee or lower leg
- warmth around your knee
If you experience any of these symptoms, its best to back off of the activity and ice your knee for 15 to 20 minutes.
If the symptom persists, call your healthcare provider.
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Improper Positioning Of The Implants
Surgeons make an effort to balance the knee at the time of surgery. This means finding the proper size and alignment of the knee replacement so that the knee joint is not too tight and not too loose. The goal is to make this balancing the same whether the knee is straight or bent.
This is precisely why a knee replacement is a difficult procedure. In fact, the art of perfecting this takes many years. Errors in the positioning of an implant may not be apparent on the operating table. They may only become noticeable when the patient is slow to recover from surgery.
What Happens During Knee Arthroplasty
The day of surgery, you will receive anesthesia to prevent pain during the operation. You will have either a regional or general anesthetic. Your anesthesia team will decide what type of anesthesia is right for you.
Knee arthroplasty takes about an hour or two. The surgical team will:
- Make an incision in the knee area.
- Remove any damaged cartilage and bone.
- Place the knee implant and position it properly.
- Secure the implant into place using cement or without cement.
- Insert a piece of polyethylene that creates a smooth, gliding surface between the metal parts of the implant.
- Close the incision.
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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.
Recovery Is Different For Everyone
Generally, people are pretty far along by six weeks and mostly recovered by three months after surgery. Minor aches and pains may last for a while longer.
Your recovery time will vary depending on whether you have a partial or full knee replacement. You will need to walk with a cane for at least a couple of weeks. Return to work can vary, but generally expect at least a couple of weeks.
For the first four to six weeks after surgery, therapy will focus on improving your range of motion. Many people start with muscles that are atrophied, or weakened, especially if they were limiting their activities for a long time before surgery. For them, it may take longer to recover, making it important to continue an exercise program focused on building strength.
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What Should I Watch After Knee Replacement Surgery
5 Red Flags to Watch Out for After a Joint Replacement: W-O-R-S-T
- W orsening, discolored or foul smelling discharge from your wound/ excessive bleeding.
- O ut of breath, chest pain or difficulty breathing.
- R ed streaking down the leg from your incision.
- S harp pain in the back of your surgical leg calf.
What Not To Do After Knee Replacement Surgery
As a Physical Therapist, I work with patients in all stages of their knee replacement. We do our best to instruct our patients on what to do, but there are a few things that you should not do after knee replacement surgery. Here are the top 7 things you should not do after a knee replacement surgery.
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Three To Six Weeks After Your Knee Replacement
As you gain strength, youll rely lessor not at allon assistive devices such as canes.
Often, at this point, more low-impact activities may be introduced into your exercise regimen. In addition to walking, this includes swimming or riding a stationary bike.
Many of the exercises above will continue. Knee bends will concentrate on the goal of bending your knee to 120 degrees.
At this point, many are able to complete basic household chores and slowly get back to daily activities. If you have an office job or a job that doesnt require heavy lifting or climbing, you may be able to return to work.
Comprehensive Physical Therapy In Myrtle Beach And Horry County To Help You After Knee Replacements
There are few things more rewarding than seeing patients return to their everyday activities without pain or discomfort. For millions of Americans, knee replacements have helped them regain the life they once enjoyed before knee pain.
Conway Medical Center has become a leader in this life-changing surgery by utilizing the latest advancements in medical technology and pain management. We offer both total and partial knee replacement procedures by leading orthopedic experts who have the extensive expertise and experience to help you.
Want to know more? Just contact us.
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