While some cases of knee pain are acute and heal in a short period of time, others are chronic and can become seriously debilitating and disruptive to a healthy lifestyle. Conservative treatments can often be effective for a large number of people, but in other situations surgery can become the best option for lasting relief. Knee replacement surgery is recommended for cases where there is severe joint damage, often caused by conditions like osteoarthritis or from the long-term effects of traumatic injuries.
For patients undergoing knee replacements, including total knee and partial knee replacements, the recovery process can be just as important as the procedure itself. The earlier you can begin rebuilding knee strength and function, the better. Overall, patients who take an active role in knee replacement recovery can give themselves the best chance of a long-term positive outcome.overcoming pain and returning to a healthy and active lifestyle.
At OJRCA, we’re passionate about providing exceptional care, starting with patient education. Please take some time to read this informative guide to help anyone considering knee replacement surgery understand the recovery journey and make the plans that can help with a quicker return to daily activities
Follow All Preoperative and Postoperative Instructions for Knee Replacement Surgery
Thanks to our specialized pain management protocol and advanced orthopedic surgical techniques, it is now possible to perform outpatient knee replacement surgery. It allows for smaller incisions compared to traditional procedures This means the incision site can heal in a shorter timeframe and patients can often resume daily activities sooner.
Patients undergoing total knee replacement or partial knee replacement will be given detailed instructions to prepare them for the preoperative process, the day of the knee replacement surgery and the recovery period..
With outpatient, minimally invasive knee replacement surgery, patients can expect to return home the day of the procedure.
Physical Therapy Helps Patients Resume Daily Activities During Knee Replacement Recovery
Like other joint replacements, the sooner that physical therapy can start, the better. There is very strong evidence that the sooner joints can start moving, the better. Working with a physical therapist helps patients learn how to properly function with their new implant while also working to overcome the years of inactivity and joint degeneration commonly experienced by patients with chronic knee pain.
When working with a physical therapist, or performing at-home exercises, patients will encounter the following techniques:
- Targeted exercises designed to strengthen the knee and increase mobility
- Hands-on therapy to activate the knee
- Therapeutic massage to stimulate blood flow and relax tense muscles
Patients should expect to commit to a therapy program for the entire knee replacement recovery for the best possible functional outcome.
Staying Safe and Healthy During Knee Replacement Recovery
Patients should expect to receive detailed instructions and timelines for safely resuming basic activities. It is also critical to stay safe in the home during the recovery period, which typically means preparing your home beforehand. Precautions to take include:
- Ensuring there are handrails installed on steps
- Clearing floors of any items that could hinder movement
- Removing throw rugs or small objects, or making them slip proof
- Ensuring you have shoes with slip-proof soles
- Avoiding slippery surfaces, such as wet or waxed floors.
Patients should also watch for the development of blood clots after knee replacement surgery. Follow your surgical instructions closely to limit your risk of blood clots, which can occur during the first early period of your recovery. Warning signs of blood clots caused by knee replacement surgery include pain and tenderness in the lower leg and calf.
Post-surgical blood-clots can also move to the lungs and negatively affect breathing. Red flags to watch for are shortness of breath, localized chest pain and coughing. If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately get in touch with a qualified medical professional, such as your surgeon or primary care doctor.
Minimizing Infection Risk after Knee Replacement Surgery
One safety issue in the knee replacement recovery period is infection of the incision and/or the implant, which are both rare. Implant infection is an especially miniscule risk factor, but it can occur in an extremely small percentage of cases and every patient should watch for the warning signs there are several measures taken to minimize the risk of infection. Two very important actions that lower the risk of infection during knee replacement recovery are:
- Follow guidelines for skin washing with antiseptic soap the days preceding surgery as instructed
- Leaving the dressing in place as it is placed in the operating room under sterile conditions and is a special dressing with a silver compound that helps prevent infection.
Resuming Activities and Committing to a Healthy Lifestyle
Patients should continue physical therapy and follow guidelines for resuming regular activities. During this time or slightly after, you can expect a post-operative appointment to check on the incision site and remove material from the wound, such as staples, if necessary. Your doctor may also clear you to start driving again, so long as you are not taking any pain medication.
Do not resume any vigorous activities without the express consent of your physician. In general, if you still require a walker or cane, there are still likely mobility problems that would make these activities overly risky.
Most people are usually able to return to normal activities within 2-4 weeks. However, every patient is different and recovery times vary. Our knees are highly sensitive to the stress we place on them every day and one of the best ways to ensure a positive outcome with long-term relief is to commit to a healthy lifestyle that promotes joint health.
Many doctors and surgeons recommend the following during the knee replacement recovery process and after:
- Eating anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich foods
- Engaging in low-impact exercise to improve cardiovascular health and strengthen muscles
- Starting a weight management plan to reduce stress on the knees
- Avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption if necessary
- Regularly getting a good night’s sleep and making preparations each night
Call OJRCA to Learn About Outpatient Joint Replacement SurgeryIf knee pain from arthritis or a knee injury is keeping you from being active and enjoying the quality of life that you deserve, it may be time to consider outpatient joint replacement surgery. At Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America, we’re committed to helping you reclaim your health and former activity levels. Please call us or reach out online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa, FL, clinic.