What to expect after a knee replacement surgery

What to expect after a knee replacement surgery / 10 questions that will explain why a knee replacement will free you from pain and change your life!

In the last five years, knee replacement surgeries have doubled. This indicates an increase in the number of patients suffering from osteoarthritis and their confidence in knee replacement surgery as a successful option for chronic knee pain treatment. Almost all our patients claim pain relief as a definite outcome post knee surgery.

Don’t take our word for it! American Academy of Orthopaedics confirms that 90%+ patients experience significant pain relief after knee replacement surgery. However, patients seeking knee replacement as an option have many questions in their mind, especially regarding the recovery post surgery. In this article, we at Parvathy have tried to bring together 10 questions that will explain why a knee replacement will free you from pain and change your life forever.

1. How painful is the surgery? How much pain do I have to bear during the recovery?

During surgery, your anaesthetist will give you a local anaesthetic shot to your knee to manage your pain. As the effect of the anaesthetic will begin to wear off, your doctor will put you on an intravenous tube to administer pain medication. This will keep your pain minimal during the surgery and immediately afterwards.Therefore, you should use this time to work on the flexibility of your new knee with the help of your physiotherapist.

By the time you will be discharged from the hospital, you will be on prescription painkillers.

2. How long will I experience swelling post knee surgery?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, swelling can last up to 3 to 6 months after surgery. Swelling is normal while you recover from a knee replacement surgery. You should use an ice pack 3-4 times a day for about 20 minutes to reduce inflammation. Exercises post operation will help you get rid of the swelling. Raising your leg on a pillow in a bed for 1-2 hours each afternoon will also help relieve swelling. Remember to place the pillow beneath your heel, not below your knees!

3. How long will the bruising stay post surgery?

Your knees will remain bruised for about 1 to 2 weeks following the surgery. However, if your wound becomes redder or you experience discomfort around your bruised knee, you should talk to your physiotherapist.

4. How should I plan my rehabilitation after knee surgery?

Your rehabilitation will begin immediately after the surgery. At Parvathy Hospital, we have a carefully researched plan for our patients:

Day 0

Immediately after you wake up from knee surgery, your rehabilitation will begin. A physiotherapist will be by your side to help you mobilise after the knee replacement surgery. With the help of your physiotherapist you will be made to stand the same day. Your physiotherapist will also demonstrate how to get in and get out of your bed and move around with an aid

Day 1

With the help of an assisted device, your physiotherapist would help you walk for brief periods and may ask you try to climb a few steps at a time.

Day 2

You will be discharged on day 3. At the time of your discharge, you should be able to:

1. Bend your knee well, preferably to a minimum of 90-degree angle.

2. Dress on your own.
3. Will rely less on an assisted device
4. Climb up and down a flight of stairs
5. Move onto a chair without help

5. What are my do’s and don’ts to speed up my healing post knee replacement surgery?

It is important that you should immediately start moving your ankles post surgery. This will keep the blood circulating and not let the scar tissue build, which will help minimise pain, stiffness, and swelling in your new knees.

Also, it is important for you to note that you have to be extra-careful with your new knees:

  • Do not wear your trousers while standing up
  • Do not attempt to tie your shoelaces or wear your socks on your own for a while
  • Each time you will squat, your new knee has to bear four to five times your body-weight. When you undress, remove clothes from your surgery side at the end.
Getting in and out of the car
  • Sit on the passenger side and get the seat moved as far as possible
  • Get in the car from street level, not from a curb
  • If the car seat is too low, you should place a pillow on it before sitting
  • Break the car ride into smaller intervals
  • While getting out of the car, let someone help you lift your legs
Baby steps to walking
  • Standing on both legs, use your crutches or walker to help you stand up
  • Wear comfortable non-skid shoes

Ask your orthopaedic surgeon when you can drive. You may need to wait up to 4 weeks after surgery. You must not get behind the wheel until your orthopaedic specialist gives a clean chit.

6. Will my body accept new knees?

Of course, it will. In the first few years after your surgery, your bone will adapt and grow around the metal prosthesis and accept the implant as its own.

7. Will the knee set off a metal detector at the airport?

Metal detection at airports is highly variable and at some airports, your artificial knee may set off an alarm, whereas at others it might not. You might need to tell the airport staff about your knee replacement.

8. Can I have an MRI scan after a knee replacement?

Yes. MRI scans of other parts of your body are safe after a knee replacement.

9. What exercises should I do with my new knees?

Your rehabilitation program will start with walking. Your new knees will allow you to enjoy activities that you had been forced to quit, tennis and trekking trips. Now, you can play golf, do yoga, swim and ski. At the gym head for elliptical machines, as they provide a good workout without stressing your knee. Cycling is also a good way to regain strength of your knee. Whether you use an actual bicycle or an exercise machine, remember to stay on a flat surface and increase your distance slowly. Jogging remains out of bounds, as it can hurt your new knee.

10. What activities should I not do with my new knees?

You should not lift objects unnecessarily after your knee implant. Do not play contact sports after your knee replacement surgery.

A knee replacement surgery is your ticket to freedom from knee pain and returns your mobility so that you can enjoy your favourite activities once again. If you need more evidence on how knee replacement surgery can change your lifestyle, walk on the Marina Beach with thousands of our patients, and witness how they are living their lives to the fullest!

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