Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common bone surgeries in the United States – and rightly so. More than 90% of people who have undergone this procedure have seen their pain significantly subside and their movement become easier.
Although knee replacement surgery is a common occurrence, the recovery process is long. While most people can resume their normal activities after 6 weeks, it can take up to 4-6 months, or even a whole year to fully recover. To help navigate this long process, here are 5 tips for recovery from knee replacement surgery.
1. Rearrange Your Home
Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will be spending the wide majority of your time at home. This means that it is important to ensure that you are comfortable in your own home. Some reorganizing tips to support your recovery process include:
- Make your living room or another room on the first floor your main living space so that you can avoid going up and down the stairs
- Install shower chairs or handrails in your bathroom
- Move rugs out of the way and fasten loose electrical cords near walls so that you do not slip
2. Care for Your Wound
Regularly change the dressing for your wound according to your doctor’s instructions, and keep your wound clean and dry. Contact your doctor immediately if your wound appears red or starts draining.
Moderate to severe swelling is common in the first few days or weeks, and mild swelling can last for up to 3-6 months after surgery. To alleviate swelling, use ice and slightly elevate your leg.
3. Move and Stay Active
After surgery, moving around helps strengthen your muscles. Additionally, your health may at times affect your recovery. Here are some beneficial activities for you to engage in:
- Walk whenever you can. Do not sit for more than an hour at a time. Even if you are simply walking around your room, this motion helps during recovery from knee replacement surgery.
- Sometimes your physical therapist may recommend riding a stationary bicycle. Biking strengthens your muscles and keeps your knee flexible. When you’re biking, exaggerate your bending and straightening movements.
- Swimming is a great low-impact activity. You can usually start swimming as soon as your wound heals. Ask your doctor when you can begin.
4. Watch What You Eat
Your doctor will give you medications. Take all of them as recommended. Let your doctor know about any other medications you are considering, including over-the-counter drugs, so that you can ensure that it is safe to take them along with your other prescribed medications.
While you should be resuming a normal diet once you get back from the hospital, your doctor may instruct you to take iron and vitamin supplements.
Drink lots of fluids and avoid having alcohol. You should also keep your weight in check so that there is not too much strain on your knee.
5. Do Your Physical Therapy Exercise
At the hospital, a physical therapist may leave you with instructions for physical therapy exercises. Make sure to follow these instructions and exercise regularly. These exercises are important in helping you return to normal daily activity and are essential to long-term recovery.
A good way to keep track of your physical therapy assignments if to use an app like AdviceCoach or Expy Health. If you have any questions about your exercises, make sure to contact your physical therapist for clarification. Each week, you may have certain goals in terms of knee movement and activity as you slowly build up your muscle strength.
While recovery from knee replacement surgery is a long process, these 5 tips will put you on the path of a successful recovery. Most importantly, follow all of your doctor’s recommendations, as each person recovers differently, and contact your doctor if you sense any abnormalities.
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