Total knee replacement is a common surgery especially for elderly patients. After years of abuse and stress from the weight and movement that we put on the simple joint, it just can’t keep up with our bodies the way it is used to and becomes more prone to injuries and the like.
Total knee replacement, as the name suggests, replaces the full joint of the knee with a combination of a metal and plastic joint in hopes of relieving pain and increasing disability that many patients feel. Many people looking to get total knee replacement often wonder about their quality of life afterwards, especially after often experiencing a loss of daily activities and routine before the surgery. Total knee replacement is one of the most successfully performed surgeries overall. There’s still risks, though, so it is important to ask your doctor about how it might help you or likely side effects that you might experience. One thing that many people worry about is their recovery from the surgery. Like with any surgery that you may undergo, there is some pain and level of care that must be maintained, and it will take some time to reach your normal level of activity.
Here’s what you can expect in the process.
Directly after surgery, you are likely to stay in the hospital from anywhere between one to four days depending on the speed of your recovery. During this time, your medical team will set a number of thresholds that they expect you to meet before leaving the hospital. They are as follows:
- Getting in and out of bed by yourself
- Having acceptable pain control
- Being able to eat, drink, and use the bathroom
- Walking with either a cane, walker, or crutches on a level surface
- Able to climb up and down two or three stairs
- Being able to perform the prescribed home exercises
- Understanding any knee precautions you may have been given to prevent injury and ensure proper healing
If for some reason, you are not able to accomplish these goals, it is likely that your doctor will have you transferred to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing center in order to help you meet these goals before you go home. This is to ensure that your knee can heal properly and that you don’t cause any other damage in the process of recovery.
After you meet these thresholds, you will then go home to recover. It is suggested that you have a friend, family member, or caregiver to provide you help at home. Before your surgery, you should also think about the ease of movement in your house which may require a need to rearrange furniture for walking with a cane, walker, or crutches, or changing rooms so that you can avoid using the stairs. You’ll also want a place where you can sit and elevate your leg, have a chair in your shower, and rearrange frequently used items closer to your reach.
On your release home, you will be given instructions for care concerning your wound, medication, altered diet if needed, and exercises for starting the physical therapy process. Physical therapy is likely to start as soon as you are home and continue for at least two months after your surgery. Most people need at least three months before total recovery, but it could take up to a full year.
This article is brought to you by Dr. Brandon Downs, of Orthopaedic Specialists, specializing in knee, hip and shoulder pain. Find Dr.Downs in Nashville, Dickson and Ashland City and online at Orthopaedicspecialists.com.
1912 Charlotte Ave, Nashville 37203, (615) 590-8000
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