After undergoing a knee replacement procedure, it can behard to feel like your normal self.
You will experience pain, swelling, andgeneral feelings of discomfort while your body takes the time to recover andadjust to the artificial joint. Over time and with the assistance of physicaltherapy, the replacement knee will begin to function much the same as anorganic knee, and increase your quality of life. Here is what you can expectfrom the day of surgery through the recovery process.In the HospitalShortly after waking up from surgery, your physicaltherapist will want you to begin moving your leg. It is important to beginusing your knee to reduce the likelihood of stiffness, strengthen the muscles,and promote proper healing. You will likely begin standing, walking with anassistive device, and getting in and out of your hospital bed. Your physicaltherapist or hospital staff will help you with tasks like changing the bandageson your knee, using the restroom, and getting dressed.
You may potentially be advised to use a continuous passivemotion (CPM) machine during your recovery. This machine keeps your leg inmotion and slowly bends and straightens the knee joint to help improvecirculation, prevent scar tissue buildup, diminish stiffness, reduce swelling,and increase overall range of motion. It can be used both in the hospital andwhen you return home to continue the healing process.As the days go by, your activity level will increase, andyour pain level will decrease. Your knee will be strengthened, and you shouldbe able to walk with only minimal reliance on the assistive devices forsupport.
At the time of discharge, you should be able to bend your knee closeto 90 degrees, get dressed and bathe on your own, walk up and down stairs, getin and out of bed, and be comfortable with performing the recommendedexercises.Post-Hospital to Week 3Movement should be coming much easier now, and your painwill be gradually diminishing. You can likely go for longer walks, perhaps evenventuring outdoors with minimal mobility aids such as a cane. You may becontinuing to use the CPM machine, and should be following the daily activityand exercise plan given to you by your physical therapist.
Weeks 4-6Your knee should have significantly improved strength andbending capabilities if you have been following your rehabilitation plan. Householdactivities such as cooking and cleaning will become easier to do given yourincreased mobility. Your physical therapist may suggest increasing the lengthof your walks, and beginning to remove mobility aids completely as you regainconfidence and power. Ask your doctor and therapist when you will be able toreturn to work if applicable, and regular daily activities like driving. Don’trush into anything without the okay as you do not want to reverse any progress.Weeks 7-11Your recovery will be progressing well. By this point, youwill likely be able to walk a few blocks on your own, and have gotten back intobasic activities like driving, regular housekeeping, and shopping. Yourexercises may be altered depending on your movement capabilities to ensureyou’re maximizing your knee’s abilities and setting up the road for continuedlong-term success.
Week 12 and AfterYou should feel a dramatic decrease in pain, and can beginto participate in more physical activities like dancing, riding a bicycle, orswimming as long as you are cleared by your medical team. Avoid high impactsports and hobbies that can damage your replacement knee or the tissuesurrounding it. After approximately a year, most patients feel almost 100%better. The key to a full and quick recovery is working hard on yourrehabilitation plan and keeping in contact with your medical team. Makeoccasional check-in appointments to ensure everything is in place and workingas it should be, and continue to take care of your replacement joint.If during yourrehabilitation you feel that you would benefit from the care of a specializedtreatment center with trained nursing staff, give us a call at 401-765-1440 formore information about our skilled nursing facility in Manville, Rhode Island, or fill out this online form to book a tour.