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Care after Knee Replacement Surgery

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

What is Knee Replacement Surgery / Knee Transplant Surgery?

Knee transplant surgery, also known as arthroplasty, involves replacing the damaged parts of the knee that cause pain and discomfort with plastic or metal components. This way, surgeons restore knee cushioning and help patients to walk and perform various activities comfortably.

Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery Process.

The Knee replacement recovery begins at the hospital itself. While some patients may be able to leave the hospital within a few hours of surgery, others will have to stay for several days. After knee replacement surgery, the hospital staff starts working on the recovery process. For instance, they ensure that patients take appropriate medications at the right time and engage in physical therapy by encouraging them to move their feet, get up and walk around in small steps.

Once the patient gets discharged from the hospital, the major recovery post operation starts and continues at home. Here, patients and their family members must take extra precautions to ensure that progress is made in the right direction. Following are some pointers that can help patients in better and faster recovery:

Before you leave the hospital

  • Talk with your surgeon regarding all the precautions that you need to keep in mind for a speedy healthy recovery

1 . Regular Exercise

This point will depend from person to person - you should be very mindful when starting to exercise after surgery. You should book appointment with proper physiotherapist and only exercises under supervision for the first few days. Majority of surgeons recommend some form of physiotherapy to start as soon - to start with normal functioning. Monitored and assisted physical movements also restore movement and strengthen the new knee.

2. Using a walker

It is recommended to use a walker for the first three to four weeks after operation as walking without a walker can be difficult and risky. Walker enables patients to move around without exerting a lot of pressure on the knee, thus, avoiding the occurrence of any pain and swelling.

3. Do cold therapy / hot therapy

Note - using cold therapy or hot therapy should be consulted first with the doctor and physiotherapist. The recovery process following knee replacement surgery is slow, and it is common for patients to experience pain and swelling in the operated region. Using ice packs several times a day can aid in reduction of the swelling. One can even opt for hot therapy.

4. Follow the recommended diet

After a knee surgery process, the surgeons would recommend some dietary changes to facilitate the recovery process. For instance, intake of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables is recommended. They will also advise avoiding alcohol and tobacco during the period. Make sure you also aid your diet with supplements as suggested by surgeon.

5. Take Proper Rest

It can seem irritating to not be able to walk just after operation - but patients must take proper rest that pushing their limits. Taking proper rest is necessary to ensure recovery within the expected time frame. However, sleeping or sitting for long periods is also not recommended. Every two hours, patients should move around for 5-10 minutes. While sleeping, pillows underneath the knee must also be removed as it may result in a permanently bent knee.

6. Making proper arrangements

For a smooth recovery - arrangements need to be made at home. Since they would be unable to walk or get up frequently, all necessary items such as ice packs, bandages, walkers, medications, a phone, a bell etc., should be kept close to patient at hands length. Some extra pillows should also be available so that the patient can use them to elevate their lower leg.

Here's a list that can come in handy to - set up the room for the patient:

  • pillows for elevating the lower leg

  • a bedside commode or urinal if the bathroom isn’t accessible

  • a bed that isn’t too high or low off the ground

  • ice packs for the knee

  • a telephone, or cellphone and a charger, a bell, to call for help

  • easily accessible, identifiable, and neatly arranged medications

  • a walker or crutches

  • writing materials to take notes or list questions for the healthcare team

  • comfortable sleepwear

  • comfortable shoes that are safe for walking around the house in

  • bandages for changing dressings

  • lights or lamps with easy controls

  • clean, dry linens

  • toiletries

7. Avoid activities that might strain the knee

Lifting heavy weights, jumping, skipping, running, and other activities that exert too much strain on the knee should be avoided at all costs. Instead of engaging in high-impact activities, stick to gentle exercises like walking and stationary cycling.

8. Consult the surgeons regularly

Patients must consult their surgeons regularly and visit them at least once or twice a month to monitor their recovery progress. Such visits will determine whether or not there are any problems with the knee and, thus, prevent any problems in the future.

9. Take care of wounds to prevent infection

It is critical to keep the wound clean and free of infection until the incision heals completely. The incision site must be kept dry as contact with moisture might attract bacteria. When changing dressings, make sure the hands are clean and softly dry tap the wound before applying a new one.

10. Weight management

Since knees are the body's most weight-bearing joints, body weight is a crucial factor in determining the speed of recovery. As patients spend a lot of time in bed after surgery, they might gain extra pounds. More weight means that the knees will have to bear more burden, which can, in turn, exert a lot of strain on the operated area. As a result, patients must monitor their weight, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet.

Medical Equipments you may need for Knee Replacement Surgery:

  • Hospital Bed : Hospital Beds provide the elevation and support that patients need. Hospital beds can be broadly categorised in two types - manual or motorised.

Hospital Beds come also be divided according to their functionality:

1 Function : Head Elevation

2 Function : Head Elevation, Foot Elevation

3 Function : Head Elevation, Foot Elevation, Bed Height Adjustment

5 Function: Head Elevation, Foot Elevation, Bed Height Adjustment, Trendelenburg, Reverse Trendelenburg

  • Wheelchairs : For easy movement - either self propelled or attendant pushed. Needed for mobility and carrying out everyday routine tasks. Can be dived based on if it is motor driven or not motor driven. Commode wheelchairs, Transfers wheelchairs, and special bariatric wheelchairs also come in handy for knee replacement patients.

  • Oxygen Machines: BiPAP, CPAP, Oxygen Concentrator - all are required in different situations for the patient. If the oxygen level isn't stable - your doctor might prescribe one of these machines to maintain oxygen levels.

  • Suction Machine : A suction machine is used to remove gases or liquids such as mucus, vomit, serum, blood, saliva or other secretions from a patient’s body cavity. The cavities include the lungs, mouth or the skull.

To read more about surgery you can read following more articles related to these issues on further blogs

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