5 Things You Need to Know about Knee Surgery Recovery

elderly woman with knee painWhen you undergo knee replacement surgery, you can expect relief from knee pain and other symptoms, as long as you make a full recovery. Knowing what to expect from knee surgery recovery can help ensure you’re prepared for it.

Are You a Good Candidate?

Before having knee replacement surgery, your surgeon will first determine if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. In general, having knee replacement surgery for moderate or severe arthritis and chronic knee pain yields the most successful results. Knee surgery for other problems, such as nerve pain or poor circulation, generally does not produce good results. Ideal knee surgery candidates are often between 55 and 75 years old with degenerative arthritis, but younger and older patients can now also be considered for arthroplasty procedures.

How to Prepare for Surgery

Since most of our patients are now being discharged home following the operation, preparing for knee surgery involves getting your home ready for the recovery process. Since you’ll have limited mobility, you’ll need to make sure you have items nearby in a location that’s easy to reach. If possible, you should also set up a temporary bedroom on the first floor of your home if you usually have to use the stairs. Eliminate throw rugs or small objects on the floor, place nightlights in hallways and bathrooms, and ensure you have handrails for the stairway and a grab bar in the shower. If you’ll need help with daily tasks, arrange to have a family member or friend to become a caregiver for you, helping with groceries, meal preparation, cleaning, and laundry. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions on what to do before your procedure, such as start or stop taking certain medications.

What to Expect During Post-Op/Recovery

You’ll most likely spend 1-3 days in the hospital after your surgery so that you can have pain medication and be monitored for complications, such as bleeding, blood clot, or an infection. You will be expected to get out of bed the same day of surgery and begin physical therapy to help you strengthen your knee joint and keep it flexible. During the recovery process at home, you should be able to resume some activities. Your doctor will let you know which ones you might need to limit or avoid. As you recover, you’ll continue doing physical therapy exercises and seeing your doctor for routine postop follow-up visits to ensure your knee is healing properly.

What to Avoid During Recovery

During recovery, being somewhat active actually helps the healing process. However, certain activities might put you at risk of injuring your knee or slowing down recovery. Low-impact activities are generally safe to do, but your doctor might have you avoid doing high-impact or any activities that put too much strain on your knee. Trying to do too much activity, such as vigorous aerobic exercise, too soon after your procedure can have a negative impact on your recovery.

Eating Right

Eating a healthy diet with enough protein and nutrients can also boost recovery by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to heal after surgery. Drinking plenty of fluids before surgery and limiting caffeine can help improve the recovery process as well. In fact, we now allow patients to drink clear liquid (water or tea) up until 2 hours before the procedure. You should also stay hydrated during the postop recovery as well to help prevent leg cramps and blood clots. Overall, you should watch your diet during recovery to avoid gaining too much weight in the longer term, which will put additional strain on your knee.

For more information and to determine if you’re a good candidate for knee surgery, please contact Dr. Lee Rubin’s office to book an appointment today.

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