After a knee replacement operation, it is only normal that you expect your lifestyle to return to normal – how it felt before the surgery but without the pain. However, full recovery takes time. Actively participating in the healing process can help you return to your everyday activities sooner and ensure a happy outcome for you.
Even though you may be able to walk and resume some activities on the same day as the operation, it is recommended that you avoid performing activities (e.g. jogging) that excessively stress your ‘new’ knee. This article is designed to help you apply a recovery plan, set goals for your healing process, and safely resume your everyday activities as soon as possible.
Post-Surgery: Day 1
The knee replacement recovery process begins almost immediately after the operation. With the aid of an assistive device (e.g. cane, crutches, and walkers) and support of your physical therapist, you should be able to stand and walk within the first 24 hours.
Once you wake up from the surgery, it is important that you start using the artificial knee as soon as possible. Your physical therapist will demonstrate how you can move around, get out of bed, and exercises you can perform to strengthen your muscles.
Post-Surgery: Day 2
Your physical therapist may request that you continue using the CPM machine to aid joint movements while you are in bed. You may also need to visit the toilet more regularly rather than using a bedpan. Over time, your activity level is expected to increase.
Typically, hospital stay for a knee replacement patient should last from 1 to 4 days (often 2 or 3). At this time your knee should be getting stronger and you should be able to go on longer walks, bend your knee to a minimum of a 90-degree angle, dress on your own, and rely less on as assistive device.
Post-Surgery till Week 3
Once you are back home or in a rehabilitation facility, the pain you experience should reduce over time and allow you move around freely. Your physical therapist will recommend daily exercise plans, and you may require less powerful pain medications and rely less on an assistive device.
Post-Surgery: Weeks 4 to 6
As time goes on, you should notice a considerable improvement in your knee. At this time, your physical therapist may ask you to learn how to walk without an assistive device. As week 6 approaches, you may be able to walk a half-mile, better perform activities like cleaning and cooking, and feel more independent.
At this time, you may be able to resume regular activities. Some people are even able to resume driving at this stage of recovery, but you must ensure your surgeon approves of it before you do.
Your goal at this stage of the healing process should be to increase your range of motion to a minimum of 90 degrees, increase the strength of your knee by continuing your recommended exercise regimen, and resume normal daily activities.
Post-Surgery: Weeks 7 to 11
At this stage, you should well on truly be on the path to full recovery. You may now be able to perform physically demanding activities like shopping and driving. This period is key to the long-term success of the operation. Your commitment to your exercise and rehab regimen will be vital in determining how soon you can resume your normal lifestyle.
Post-Surgery: Week 12
If you have been committed to your rehabilitation regimen, you should be able to enjoy activities such as cycling, dancing, and swimming at this point. Continue with the exercise plan as recommended by your physical therapist and avoid the temptation to engage in high intensity activities like football, running, skiing and basketball.
Going forward, the Go-PadZ compression sleeve can help. Designed with a heat and cold gel insert, it provides warmth and compression to the knees. Go-PadZ also helps to protect your knee against injuries, and even prevent injuries/re-injuries. It perfectly complements your rehab regimen, aiding more controlled and stable movements.
Remember that every person is unique, and several factors can affect the outcome of a total knee replacement surgery. While a week-by-week regimen gives you a general insight of what to expect after the operation, your level of progress may be slower or faster. But do not feel discouraged; work closely with your doctor and physical therapist to ensure a successful knee replacement recovery process.
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