Recovering from a total knee replacement surgery takes time, patience, and a lot of work. The rehabilitation process is long, but without it, the scar tissue from the surgery would limit your mobility. Following the rehab plan that your physical therapist and surgeon recommend helps you regain strength and motion in your leg so that you can eventually return to your normal daily activities. Learn more about what to expect while you're recovering from your total knee replacement surgery.
After your knee replacement surgery, you'll be placed in a recovery room for a couple of hours for observation before you're moved to your regular hospital room. In most cases, you remain in the hospital for a few days so that the medical staff can help you with pain management and start the rehabilitation process. Depending on your medical history, you might also receive blood thinners or need to wear compression boots to help prevent your leg from swelling and/or blood clots from forming. You should expect the medical staff to encourage you to move your foot and ankle frequently to increase the amount of blood flow throughout your leg.
To prepare you for discharge, physical therapy typically begins the day after surgery unless your surgeon recommends otherwise. You should expect to be standing up and trying to walk with assistance within the first 24 hours after surgery. Your physical therapist will also take you through a series of exercises to strengthen your knee and improve flexibility at least once per day. However, you should expect the medical staff to encourage you to complete your exercises yourself several times per day. It's also common for knee replacement patients to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine numerous times throughout the day. The machine bends and straightens your leg continuously while you're in bed to help prevent the buildup of scar tissue and stiffness in the joint.
Some patients return home after the hospital stay and continue the rehabilitation process on an outpatient basis while others spend time in an assisted living facility to continue rehabilitation. Regardless, during the first six to 12 weeks of your recovery, your progress is monitored by your doctor, who accesses your situation to determine when you're able to return to normal activities such as driving or working.
The long-term recovery process for knee replacement patients typically lasts for three to six months following surgery. However, it's common for foot swelling to occur up to a year after surgery.
Even after your internal soft tissues and surgical wounds have healed, you'll need to advise doctors and dentists that you've had knee replacement surgery before going through any invasive procedures so that they can give you antibiotics to prevent infection. Also, unless your doctor approves, you should avoid high-impact activities, such as jogging, as well as activities that put you at risk of twisting your knee.
Recovering from knee replacement surgery isn't always a simple process. However, by following your rehabilitation instructions and taking full advantage of any rehabilitation services offered to you, it is possible for you to completely recover and live a normal life. To learn more about knee replacement surgery, contact a professional medical care provider.