Knee replacement surgery is a very common surgery, particularly for older individuals who have severe osteoarthritis. Unlike many other surgeries, this one will require you to get up and moving pretty quickly, which is an important part of your healing and recovery.
In fact, during your time at the hospital after surgery (typically 1-2 days), your Atlanta orthopedic doctors are going to come into your room and ask you to start bending your new knee and sitting up on the edge of the bed or in a chair.
You will likely be required to walk with the aid of a walker or other device, and you’ll begin some physical therapy exercises right away. All of this is because early mobilization is key to the full and optimal recovery after a knee replacement surgery.
You’ll have plenty of pain medication in your system the first few days to cope with the amount of movement you’re being asked to do, but as time goes on, your pain medication will decrease as your mobility increases.
Doing these exercises in the hospital may seem perfectly reasonable to you, but when you get home, you may want to just lie down and rest for a few days. However, it’s extremely important that you follow all of the recommendations and guidelines that your doctors set for you.
Here’s what to expect after a knee replacement surgery.
Physical Therapy for Knee Replacement
Physical therapy (PT) is perhaps the most important part of your recovery. Most people who have a knee replacement surgery generally have weakened leg muscles due to improper or lack of use of the knee. But after a knee replacement surgery, everything is ready to be retrained and stretched and strengthened, leading you to better mobility and less pain in the future.
The first few days after your surgery are some of the most vital in regaining full function of your knee. Building up your leg muscles again is one of the most important parts of gaining full control over your new joint and getting the most out of your knee replacement.
Not only is it incredibly important to attend your physical therapy appointments and be fully engaged, but you also need to make sure you’re doing as much physical therapy at home as you possibly can. Each exercise will focus on stretching and strengthening your muscles, and it will most likely not be very comfortable.
Remember that these muscles are weakened from misuse or failure to use prior to your surgery. So not only are you dealing with pain from the surgery, but your muscles are going to be pushed harder than they have in a while, and you may be sore because of it.
The better you stick to your PT regimen, the less swelling you’ll have, the more flexibility you’ll see, and the faster you’ll recover. You will also break up potential scar tissue so that you don’t experience stiffness and limited mobility in the future.
Breathing Exercises Help with Knee Replacement Recovery
During your time at the hospital, your doctor will likely discuss with you the importance of staying healthy throughout your recovery. While you will need to get up and walk multiple times throughout the day, you’ll be sitting or lying down the majority of the time.
With that much inactivity, the concern for lung health always presents itself. Your doctor may teach you breathing exercises to ensure you are keeping your lungs cleared to avoid pneumonia or chest congestion.
Returning to Daily Tasks with a New Knee
After surgery, many people tend to lie around for weeks on end and not do much. However, some people can’t wait to get back into the normal groove of life. No matter where you fall in that spectrum, you’ll have to work your way back up to completing daily tasks and getting back into the swing of things.
About three days after your surgery, you’ll likely be able to shower again, though that timeline may depend on how your wound was closed up and what kind of dressing is on it, as well as how mobile you have become since your surgery.
In terms of other tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, and basic chores around the house, it’s a good thing to ease back into them all as you feel comfortable. Sometimes cleaning can make walking around easier because you’re distracted from focusing on your knee, but be careful not to overdo it.
Knee Replacement Recovery Time
In most cases, people who get a knee replacement can return fully to their daily activities, including driving, within about 6 weeks, though for some it may be more like 10-12 weeks. Some may take less time and some may take more.
However, it may take around 6 to 12 months to fully and completely recover from the surgery and experience the full benefits of the surgery. Generally speaking, the more you follow the recommendations of your doctors, the faster you’ll heal and enjoy the advantages of having your knee replaced.
If you suspect you need a knee replacement or have been told with certainty that you do, get in contact with AICA Orthopedics today to schedule a consultation with our Atlanta orthopedic doctors. Call (404) 855-2141 today to make your appointment.