Almost 800,000 patients in the United States undergo knee replacements yearly. If you’re scheduled for this procedure, understanding what to expect and experience during recovery helps you feel more at ease going in for surgery.
The skilled team at Total Joint Specialists, formerly known as Georgia Joint Specialists, explains some general experiences you might encounter during your recovery from knee replacement surgery.
Immediately after surgery
Once your replacement surgery is complete, you’re sent to a recovery room as you come out of anesthesia. While there, a nurse monitors your vital signs to make sure there are no complications.
Some patients go home the same day as a knee replacement to recover. Others may need to spend the night to be monitored. Your immediate recovery situation depends on your overall health, the type of surgery you had, your home environment, and your reaction to anesthesia.
Our surgeons make individualized recommendations according to your needs.
In the initial days after surgery, you’re prescribed prescription medications to help ease the immediate pain. You wean off of these over a week or two and then rely on over-the-counter pain medications as needed.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Physical therapy begins soon after surgery — sometimes on the same day! One of our therapists guides you through exercises to help you regain mobility, strength, and range of motion in the knee joint. Expect to be walking with an assistance device, such as a walker or cane, shortly after surgery.
Caring for your knee
Before leaving the hospital, you’ll be given comprehensive instructions as to how to care for your surgical incision. We’ll let you know how to change any dressings and offer recommendations for keeping the incision dry during showers.
If you notice increased pain, redness, or warmth around the incision site, these could be signs of infection. It’s important to contact our office at the first signs of these symptoms to avoid further complications.
Expect to have swelling around the knee following surgery. Cold therapy is an essential part of your recovery process and helps ease this swelling and expedite healing. We’ll instruct you to apply ice at regular intervals.
You’ll wear compression garments or bandages to help reduce swelling and promote circulation. Elevating your leg above heart level while resting helps minimize swelling.
After surgery, you’re at an increased risk of blood clots. We’ll prescribe blood thinners and compression stockings or other measures to keep your circulation flowing. We’ll also give you anti-nausea medications and stool softeners to help relieve symptoms associated with anesthesia and prescription pain medications.
In the first few days after surgery, it’s a good idea to have a loved one or friend help you with daily activities like bathing, cooking, and other household tasks. You’ll notice a gradual improvement in your knee’s function over time.
Expect to use crutches or a walker for a few weeks and then transition to using a cane. Most people can resume normal daily activity within 6-12 weeks, including stair climbing and low-impact exercise. Expect to have some swelling, numbness at the incision, and other limitations for several months, however.
Your provider here at Total Joint Specialists will likely recommend modifications to your physical activities to protect your knee replacement for the long-term. Usually, high-impact activities like running and jumping should be avoided after you’ve had a knee replacement.
Get all your knee replacement surgery questions answered by the team at Total Joint Specialists. Reach out to the nearest office in Midtown Atlanta, Alpharetta, Braselton, Canton, Cumming, Gainesville, Lawrenceville, Sandy Springs, and Woodstock, Georgia. Call or schedule online today to make your appointment.