Successfully Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery

You're finally going to get that painful, arthritic knee joint replaced. The surgery date is set and you're making plans to go to the hospital. replacing your old knee joint with an artificial one is just part of the process. Your recovery at home will determine how successful the process is. Here is what you can expect after the surgery and the remainder of your recovery at home.

Your Recovery Begins Soon After the Surgery

Within a few hours after the surgery, the staff will get you out of bed. Movement increases circulation and improves healing. The staff will teach you how to support your leg as you get out of bed and into a chair, then back again. Once you can transfer yourself safely, you'll learn how to take a few steps to the bathroom with your crutches or walker.

The day after the surgery, a physical therapist will help you as you walk into the hallway and back. You'll be able to touch your leg lightly to the floor, but not put much weight on it. The therapist will work with you until you can walk safely and without getting too tired. Your orthopedist wants to know that you have some level of stability before sending you home. When you can walk with your crutches or walker safely, you'll go home to start your next phase of recovery.

The First Few Days at Home

Bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues in your knee need to heal. For your first few days at home, you'll continue to practice walking while touching your foot to the floor lightly. You'll have a large bandage on your knee so it will be difficult to move your knee anyway. In a few days, you'll have a follow up appointment with your doctor, at which time they will take off the large bandage and replace it with a much smaller one. Your doctor will also have you begin physical therapy.

Range of Motion on Your Knee

The first phase of physical therapy is to loosen up the muscles in your knee so you can move it through all of its natural range of motion. The therapist will start by moving your leg and knee for you. They will then show you how to do the range of motion exercises yourself. They will measure the amount of motion you have in your knee at each session. When your knee reaches the minimum accepted range of motion, your doctor will have you begin strength training.

Strengthening the Muscles

The next phase of therapy is to strengthen the muscles in and around your knee to aid in walking, and to protect your knee from injury. You'll slowly increase the amount of weight you place on your leg when you walk. You'll increase the amount of walking you do and you may begin using a stationary bicycle.

This is where some people become impatient and try to push themselves beyond the current limits of their knee. If you do, you could seriously injure your knee and may even have to go back for additional surgery. During this phase you want to set a pace with your physical therapist that allows you to make incremental progress without placing too much stress on your knee.

Contact a doctor, like Joseph P. Spott, DO or another professional, for more information on what to expect after a knee replacement.