If you’re going to have a knee replacement, it’s understandable to experience some anxiety about the
process. But knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you can take control of your healing. Here
are some helpful dos and don’ts post-knee replacement surgery.
The first 12 weeks after surgery require some hard work involving knee exercises that present some
discomfort. Using your new knee is critical so the muscles, ligaments, and tendons around it don’t freeze
up. Have you heard the saying, “If you want to be able to move, you’ve got to keep moving?” That’s the adage
to keep in mind after having a knee replacement.
Some swelling is normal for three months or more following knee replacement surgery. Keep your leg
elevated, and use an ice pack as directed to help control the swelling. Your doctor may also suggest
You can expect to start moving by the end of the first day following surgery. You start working with a
physical therapist who helps you stand and walk using a walker within the first 24 hours, explaining how you
should maneuver to get in and out of bed and a chair.
Your therapist shows you how to put your leg in a continuous passive motion machine in your hospital room;
the machine moves your knee very gently through flexing and straightening that helps it strengthen and heal.
You may continue using it at home for as long as your doctor prescribes it.
Working with your physical therapist, you should meet these goals by the time you’re ready to go home from
At home, do the exercises prescribed by your physical therapist every day. By the end of the third week,
you may be able to transition to using a cane if you haven’t done so already.
Do your exercises for several months. Full recovery takes anywhere from three to six months and up to a
year. If you’re diligent in doing your exercises and in using your knee (but not overdoing it), you can
enjoy a faster and fuller recovery.
To avoid post-op infection, be sure you understand how and when to change your bandage. If the skin around
the wound becomes red or drains, or if you develop a fever and chills, call your doctor right away. To avoid
complications of a clot, call your doctor if your leg is tender, swells unduly below or above the knee, or
if you develop pain in your leg or calf.
Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. However, avoid alcohol after surgery because it retards
healing. Eat whole, unprocessed foods rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Keeping yourself at a healthy weight limits the stress on your knees. If you were overweight before your
surgery, try a medically supervised weight loss plan to help you lose the weight and keep it off.
Taking proper precautions after major surgery helps ensure a good recovery. Following are some things you
should avoid after undergoing knee replacement surgery.
While in the hospital, don’t try to get out of bed by yourself. Accept help, and take the time to properly
learn how to use a walker or cane.
When at home:
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