Getting a Knee Replacement? What you need to KNOW!

Hello everyone, we are back again with some amazing information regarding your health. Ok so some of you may have been suffering from knee pain due to osteoarthritis for a long time. You have done the shots, and done the physical therapy, and you and your doctor have come to a point where a knee replacement surgery has been recommended. You are considering getting a knee replacement surgery; however, you are not sure what to expect after the surgery. We’ve put together a few things for you to consider. Let’s dive in…

Hospital Discharge

Following a non-complicated knee surgery, you may need a two-to-three-night hospital stay. This is not likely however, if your knee replacement is done as an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home the same day.

Some goals to be met prior to hospital discharge include:

  • Getting into and out of bed without assistance.
  • Having adequate pain management.
  • The ability to eat, drink, and use the restroom.
  • Walking on a level surface with an assistive device (a cane or walker).
  • Climbing up and down a few steps if you have steps to get into your home.
  • Being perform your prescribed exercises as directed by the hospital PT.
  • Being able to demonstrate good safety awareness.

If you are unable to meet some of these goals, it may be unsafe for you to return home immediately after discharge. If this is the case, it may be recommended that you admit into a rehabilitation facility for a little while before heading home.

Possible post-op Complications: Some possible things to look out for. Call your doctor if you experience any of these.

·      Infection

  1. Fever that does not go away (higher than 100 degrees)
  2. Chills or shivering
  3. Your wound is becoming increasingly warm to the touch, red, painful, or swollen
  4. Excessive drainage from your wound
  5. Pain gets worse with both exercise and relaxation. Nothing helps

·        Blood clots

  1. Swelling that could include your whole leg, from your thigh all the way down to your foot and ankle
  2. Skin that is very warm to touch
  3. Pain and tenderness or redness on the outside or inside of your knee
  4. Increased redness or discoloration of your skin

Recovery at Home

·       Preparing your Home

  1. Rearrange furniture to make it easier for you to move about with a cane or walker. To avoid taking the stairs, temporarily shift rooms (for example, make the living room your bedroom).
  2. Remove any area rugs or throw rugs that could cause you to trip. Electrical wires should be secured around the room’s perimeter.
  3. Get a nice chair with a firm seat and a footstool for leg elevation.
  4. Get night lights that plug into the wall, so you can see at night when walking to the bathroom

·       Wound Care

Your incision might be covered with sutures or staples that will run along your wound, on the front of your knee. About 10 days after your surgery, you surgeon might take the staples out and replace with steri-strips which eventually fall off on their own.

It is important to follow your doctors’ orders regarding how to care for the wound. This includes when to take a complete shower or bath, that immerses the wound in water. You can cover the leg in a plastic wrapping prior to taking a shower to prevent the wound from getting soaked with water.

·       Pain and Swelling

It is important to remember that pain and swelling or edema are the body’s natural responses to surgery. In the days and weeks following your joint replacement, you may experience moderate to severe pain as well as swelling. You may experience mild to moderate edema for up to 3 to 6 months after surgery. It will be important to manage your pain so you can tolerate your therapy.

Remember to elevate your leg and use ice to decrease swelling. A good rule for ice is 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off. Compression stockings may also aid in the reduction of edema. If you see new or more severe swelling, call your doctor right away since it might be a symptom of a blood clot.

·       Medication

Follow your doctor’s instructions for all drugs. Narcotic and non-narcotic pain relievers, oral or injectable blood thinners, stool softeners, and anti-nausea medicines are all examples of medication you may be prescribed or recommended.

Always tell your doctor about all your prescriptions, including over-the-counter medications, supplements, and vitamins. Your doctor will advise you on which over-the-counter pain relievers are safe to consume while on prescription pain relievers.

It’s extremely crucial to keep any bacterial infections away from your prosthetic joint. Antibiotics may be necessary for some people with specific conditions before dental treatment to assist avoid infection. Before getting dental treatment done, check with your doctor to see if you should take antibiotics. You may also want to take a medical alert card with you so that medical staff are aware that you have an artificial joint in the event of an emergency.

·      Diet

Be sure to include foods high in protein and vitamin C in your diet as these help with healing. Narcotic pain medication will cause constipation so be sure to load up on some kiwis, prunes, and whatever that works for you to keep things moving. Your doctor may advise you to take iron and vitamin supplements. STAY HYDRATED!!!


·       Driving

When you are no longer using narcotic pain medication and your strength and reflexes have recovered to a more normal level, it is usually safe to resume driving. Your doctor will advise you on when it is safe to drive again.

·       Sleeping Position

You can sleep comfortably on your back, either side or stomach. You may need to place a pillow between your knees if you want to sleep on your side. You will be educated in the hospital by your physical therapist to not place the pillow directly under you knee when lying on your back.

·       Return to work

It might take anything from a few days to several weeks for you to be able to return to work, depending on the sort of work you perform and how quickly you heal. When it is safe to resume normal job duties, your doctor will counsel you.

·       Air Travel

You may experience increased swelling on the operated leg as a result of pressure changes and immobility, especially if it is still healing. Before taking a trip, consult your doctor. When passing through security, keep in mind that metal detector sensitivity varies, and your prosthetic joint may set off an alarm. Before passing through the metal detector, tell the screener about your prosthetic joint. While on the plane, if possible, stand up, stretch and walk through the isle at least every hour if possible and if safe.

How your Knee is Different

A Total knee replacement aims to improve knee mobility; however, 100% complete motion restoration may not be fully achieved.  The range of motion in your knee before surgery can predict the mobility of your knee replacement after surgery.

Most people should anticipate being able to almost completely straighten their replacement knee as well as bend it enough to climb stairs and get in and out of a car. Kneeling might be unpleasant at times, but it is not hazardous.

The skin around your incision is usually numb for most people. You may also have stiffness.

With knee bending or walking. Some individuals might feel or hear some clicking in their knee. This is not unusual and not like the pain, discomfort and restricted function they had before surgery, these differences usually fade over time, and most patients find them bearable.

Protecting your Knee Replacement

Following surgery, be sure you perform the following:

  • Maintain optimum strength and mobility in your new knee.
  •  Avoid falls and injuries, take extra care.
  • Make sure your dentist is aware of your knee replacement. Consult your surgeon to see if antibiotics are required before dental treatments.
  • See your surgeon for a standard follow-up examination and x-rays regularly. Your surgeon will discuss the number and scheduling of these appointments with you.

Extending the Life of Your Knee Implant

Most Knee implants now will last approximately 15 to 20 years following knee replacement surgery. Avoiding high impact activities like running, basketball, skiing or jumping.

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