From chronic arthritis to a knee injury on the job – there are many contributing factors as to why you might need knee surgery. In fact, according to knee surgery statistics, around 800,000 Americans require knee replacement surgery each year. If you are one among these people, you might be wondering what you should know about the recovery process after the procedure.
While knee replacements and surgeries are relatively common, that doesn’t mean you’re familiar with what to expect after the procedure. You might be questioning things like recovery time, physical therapy, or how to manage pain after surgery. You may also be thinking about the best practices for post-op recovery in order for the surgery to be a complete success. Thankfully, here are a few things you should know when recovering from knee surgery that can help you heal faster, and feel better during post-op.
Prepare Your Home Before Surgery
If you have not yet undergone knee surgery, start preparing before you have the procedure. You might be surprised at how recuperating from surgery can compromise your daily life. Even the smallest task that is normally simple can be a big challenge when you are released from the hospital after surgery.
Therefore, prepare your home before the surgery so your life is easier when you return home from the hospital. For instance, make clear walking areas in your home so there is no risk of bumping your knee or sustaining accidents, which could jeopardize your recovery. This may require moving furniture around your home. Give yourself at least three feet on either side so you can easily move from one room to another with a walker. You may also need to move your sleeping arrangements to a first level if your bedroom is upstairs.
Also, make sure you have all your everyday supplies stocked up, and have everything easily accessible when you return home from the hospital. For example, assure that you have plenty of foods you enjoy and have the ability to prepare meals.
Same holds true with having routine supplies on-hand such as paper towels, toilet paper, personal care products, etc. There’s nothing worse than recovering from surgery and not being able to satisfy your basic needs. So, prepare your return back home and make sure everything you need is conveniently at-hand.
Recovery Starts Immediately After Surgery
In order to ensure a successful recovery it’s important to know that the healing process starts the moment the surgery is complete. According to Dr. Michael Parks, associate professor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC, recovery starts immediately after surgery and physical therapists begin working with patients usually on the same day as the surgery. Parks goes on to say that knee replacement surgery recovery is “no longer about bed rest like it used to be. Now, we get patients up and moving a lot quicker.”
Make Sure You Have the Right Recovery Equipment and Supplies
Your orthopedic surgeon should provide you with a list of items you should have on-hand when you return home from surgery. To ensure a stress-free recovery, make sure you have all of these items before you are released from the hospital.
Additionally, think about equipment and therapy supplies like a raised toilet seat to make sitting and rising from the seat easier during recovery. Moreover, you may want to have grab bars installed so you can avoid slipping and more easily negotiate movement in the bathroom. Also, the surgical facility should provide you with a walker before releasing you, but you may also want to have a cane or crutches at home for easier mobility around the house.
Furthermore, your orthopedic physician may suggest specialized supplies you should have after surgery. For instance, most ortho-experts agree that ice therapy known as cryotherapy is extremely helpful in post-op recovery. Therefore, you should consider getting a high-quality cold therapy product such as the Breg Polar Care Cube which is a convenient and reliable device that provides cold therapy at the surgery site, to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
You should also lay in proper wound care supplies. Have gauze and bandages on hand for when you clean and replace your dressings around the incision sites. You’ll also need to avoid getting the wound wet after surgery, so you may want to get a protective sleeve to keep the site dry while taking a shower.
Upon release from the hospital, your doctor will prescribe medicines as well as suggest an over-the-counter analgesic such as Tylenol. Make sure you have these readily available after the surgery. Have a friend or family member pick up your prescriptions, or have what you need couriered to your home.
After surgery, you might be tempted to “take it easy” when you get home. It’s true that you will definitely experience down-time, and getting rest is part of your recovery process. It’s also accurate to expect you will be moving more slowly. However, resist the urge to avoid activity. Stick to the exercises prescribed by your doctor and physical therapist after surgery. The more you abide by post-op exercises as advised by your medical team, the quicker and better your healing process will be.
In time, as your knee continues to heal, your physician may give you the “all clear” to increase movement and physical activities. Once you get to a point where you can do more, your physician might recommend exercises such as swimming, walking, light bicycling, or low-resistance weight lifting.
Stay Committed to Your Recovery Process
Ultimately, you should remember that you’ve just undergone surgery, and it’s going to take time to heal. While you might be eager to get back to normal, you cannot rush the healing process. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be discouraged if your recovery isn’t going as fast as you might have expected. This might make you feel like giving up on physical therapy or maintenance care which can lead to disastrous setbacks.
Instead of getting frustrated, be patient with yourself and the phases of your recovery. Listen to your body, and realize that the success of your knee surgery is contingent upon how you care for yourself after the procedure. You can ensure a better recovery when you follow doctor’s orders, keep a positive attitude, and pay attention to your recovery needs while your knee is healing.