Total Knee Replacement is a common orthopedic surgery to replace a worn-out knee with an artificial joint (made of metal and plastic). This surgery, also known as total knee arthroplasty, is performed by orthopedic surgeons, and generally, the success rate is above 90 percent.
The recovery and rehabilitation can help you return to an active lifestyle. The recovery timeline varies between individuals, and usually, the first 12 weeks are crucial in the faster healing process during the recovery period.
General Knee Replacement Surgical procedure
The Total Knee Replacement surgery is adopted only when other treatment methods, such as physiotherapy and painkiller medications, fail to manage the wear-and-tear pain of the knee. This invasive procedure takes 2 to 3 hours under general anesthesia.
Below is a brief explanation of the steps involved in Total Knee Replacement Surgery.
- The surgeon will make an incision around 6 to 10 inches on your knee area.
- The kneecap is carefully removed and kept aside.
- All the injured and damaged tissues are cut, and the unwanted parts are extracted.
- The surgeon then attaches the artificial implants (made of metal and plastic). After the procedure, the incisions are stitched, and the patient will be taken to the recovery room.
- The vitals will be closely monitored in the recovery room after surgery.
- Once vitals are stable, you will begin preparing for discharge. Medications and physical therapy will be provided to enhance the recovery process.
Step-by-Step Recovery Timeline
The timeline for returning to your regular activities after knee replacement surgery varies from person to person. Here is a general idea of what to expect:
0-2 Weeks- Your hospital stay duration depends on your overall general health. In most cases, patients are discharged within a day or two. You may need a walker or crutches to help with walking. Rehabilitation with physical therapy begins immediately to help you regain mobility.
This week mostly concentrates on managing the swelling and inflammation after the surgery. Pain and slight discomfort might be reduced by medications and applying an ice pack near the surgery site. You should be fully able to extend your knees from day 1 of surgery.
2-6 Weeks: You might still depend largely on your walking aid, but there will be more mobility compared to the initial weeks. Continue doing physical therapy, including exercises that help strengthen your knee.
Sitting for too long during this period can make the knees stiff, so alternate between sitting and walking throughout the day. Post-surgical pain is hardly felt after, and you may not require pain medications.
2-3 Months: You should see significant improvement in mobility and pain relief. You can start to do light daily activities like driving and light household chores.
3-6 Months: Your knee should continue to get better. Most people can return to work at this point, and you can engage in more physical activities.
6 Months and Beyond: It can take up to a year to fully recover. You should be able to resume most, if not all, of your regular activities without pain.
Tips for speedy recovery after knee replacement surgery
There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself achieve a full recovery. Here are a few tips to help you get back on your feet.
Prioritise rehabilitation and recovery:
Strictly follow the guidance recommended by your physician and physical therapist. Regular gentle exercises and movements are crucial for improving mobility and reducing post-surgery stiffness and swelling.
Make time for rest:
Give your body sufficient time to rest and heal. Getting sufficient sleep is essential for both recovery and overall health. Use pillows to elevate your leg; it helps in reducing the swelling during sleep.
Managing Swelling and inflammation:
Use ice packs to reduce swelling and continue with gentle movements to reduce stiff knees. Consult your physician if there is a persistent inflammation unresponsive to medications.
Improve your overall health:
Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet contributes to improved healing outcomes. Proper nutrition supports tissue healing. Maintain a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Take your prescribed medication:
Take prescribed pain medications as directed to keep discomfort in check. If you experience any discomfort due to the side effects of the medications, discuss it with your doctor.
Use walking aids or assistive devices:
In the initial stages of recovery, walking aids such as crutches or walkers help provide stability and support. You can gradually reduce your dependence on these devices as you regain strength.
Wear supportive shoes:
Investing in supportive shoes aids in a quicker recovery after knee replacement surgery. The shoes are designed to provide support and stability as it reduces the risk of slip and falls. Choosing the right footwear minimizes the strain on your knee joint, facilitating a smoother recovery.
Follow the advice of your medical professional:
Your surgeon knows what is best for you, and your treatment plans are curated accordingly. Adhere to their post-operative care guidelines, such as restrictions on weight gain and effective wound care practices to facilitate healing.