Knee Replacement – Recovery at Home

Knee Replacement Recovery Time Table

Below is a general time frame for surgery and recovery from knee replacement. Depending on your overall health, your recovery time may be different.

  • Day 1 – Surgery and begin using continuous passive motion machine
  • Day 2 – Eat a regular diet
  • Day 4 – Get out of bed with help
  • Day 5 – Use walker or crutches without help
  • Day 6 – Walk stairs without help
  • Day 3-7 – Go home from hospital (average dates)
  • Day 10-14 – Removal of stitches or staples
  • Week 3 – Incision swelling and bruising gone
  • Week 5-7 – Drive a car
  • Week 6-8 – Light sports like walking, swimming or cycling
  • Week 3-12 – Return to work depending on the physical demands of your job

It’s normal for your energy level to be low right after surgery. You may be surprised to find it will take all of your energy just to make the trip home. Once you’re at home, pace yourself. Be aware of how you feel doing everyday activities. Your knee should get better each day. You will know when you can increase your activity level. When you get tired, rest. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t risk your health by doing too much too soon. Following your surgeon’s instructions and advice is very important; it will help you avoid problems.

Good nutrition is very important for healing. You should eat foods high in protein and drink plenty of fluids. While you are recovering and your activity level is low, it is helpful to eat foods high in fiber to prevent constipation.

Home Safety

Preventing falls is very important in protecting your new knee. You can prevent falls by wearing shoes with nonskid soles and low, closed heels; using your crutches, walker, or cane; holding onto hand rails; and keeping rooms well lit, even during the night.

Watch out for:

  • Electrical cords in your path.
  • Ice or mildew on outdoor steps and walkways.
  • Loose rugs and carpets.
  • Pets that may jump on you or run in your path.
  • Spills on bare floors.
  • Toys or magazines on floors and stairs.

Until you build up your strength, plan some rest periods between activities. Your body needs energy for healing. Also, if you get too tired you increase your risk of injury from falling.

Exercise Program

As your knee heals, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons will grow stronger. Make your exercise program part of your daily routine. In addition to exercise, your surgeon may have you use the CPM machine at home. Sticking to your exercise program will speed your
recovery and allow you to regain your independence more quickly. However, too much activity and weight bearing can lead to muscle aches. Muscle aches are a sign that you should cut back on your activities. Call your surgeon if you have pain, swelling, or stiffness
after exercise that is not relieved by your pain medicine.

Even after your knee heals, avoid activities that involve jumping, bending the knee joint too far, or twisting of the knee. Walking and swimming are among the best exercises for your knee. When walking, wear shoes that fit properly and absorb shock. You can ride a bike. Make sure the seat and pedals are adjusted for the length of your body. You can play golf, but wear shoes without metal spikes. Regular spikes may catch the ground and cause your knee to twist. Also, ride in a cart instead of walking and carrying your golf bag. Avoid sports or exercises with a high risk of falling or that overwork your knee. Talk with your surgeon before you begin any new exercises or physical activities.

Keep in mind, your new knee is made for the activities of daily living and limited sports!

Great article: Total Joint Replacement: Getting “Physical” without Overdoing It

Total Knee Replacement

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