If you’re going to be having knee replacement surgery in the near future, there are some things you can do right now to speed up your recovery and regain strength and movement sooner. It could be the difference between a quick recovery and a slow one.
Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan
Developing a recovery and rehabilitation plan has been shown to make a significant difference to a patient’s recovery after surgery.
It can help you to:
- get discharged from hospital sooner
- avoid potential complications
- regain movement and flexibility
- resume independent living
There are some external factors that are likely to influence the speed at which you recover from surgery. If you are older, a smoker or have other medical conditions, it can mean you take a longer time to heal. But you can give yourself a better than average chance of recovering quickly by doing knee-strengthening exercises prior to surgery.
So, think about the following and speak to your orthopaedic surgeon, before you go into hospital. Plan ahead to boost your chances of making a good recovery…
Getting Back on Your Feet:
Patients who get up and bear some weight on their new knee within 24 hours of surgery go on to recover more quickly than those who don’t. You will normally be given pain relief and offered some kind of aid to support you to take a few steps. How much weight you should put on your knee depends on a range of factors and your surgeon will advise you. You will be asked to increase the amount of pressure gradually over time.
Some hospitals will recommend the use of a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine which may help patients to regain a better range of motion more quickly and lead to a shorter stay in hospital. These machines slowly move the affected leg using a straightening and bending motion for up to eight hours a day. Patients lie on their back while the machine moves their leg and may even be able to sleep or engage in other types of physical therapy at the same time. Some patients may be prescribed a CPM for use at home after discharge.
You will be able to leave hospital once you are able to get out of bed and walk a short distance; get up and down stairs; bend your knee 90 degrees and follow simple precautions to avoid injuring your new knee. In some cases this can be as quickly as one or two days after surgery.
In order to be able to drive safely again you must have regained your pre-surgery reflexes and muscle strength and must not be taking any kind of painkillers that could impair your driving skills. You will need to liaise with your doctor to determine when is safe for you to begin driving again. You may also be able to obtain a disabled parking permit.
Returning to Work:
The speed at which you can return to work will depend on the type of job you do. Office-based jobs will place less strain on your new knee than manual or mixed labour jobs. Again, talk to your doctor about what is right for you.