March 22, 2016
The most important thing for you to do after a knee replacement his work on your range of motion. The bending and straightening of your knee.
It’s difficult for some people to work on range of motion exercises after a knee replacement because of the level of pain that they have. But you don’t want an increase in pain to stop you from doing your exercises.
So along with the exercises that you need to do comma it’s essential that you use your pain medication as instructed by your doctor.
A lot of the time if you’re not moving you’re not really having that much pain. And if you’re not having pain, a lot of people wonder why they should take pain medication.
You take pain medication routinely, even if you don’t have pain, so that you are able to move with as little pain as possible.
If you sit back and think about it, it’s important that you have the pain medication already in your system when you start to do your exercises. This way you can get the most out of your exercises and not have to worry about your leg hurting that much.
Some people have difficulty with pain in the morning. This is because they’ve slept through the night and the pain pills I took before bedtime has worn off.
What I like to recommend that people do is before they go to bed put your pain pills on your bedside table with a few crackers or a piece of fruit. That way you can take the pain medication as soon as you wake up and you’ll have some food with it so you will be able to keep it down.
This also will go a long way into preventing the excuse of not getting your exercises in earlier in the day. Since you will have taken your pain medication right when you wake up you should be relatively pain-free when you’re ready to do your exercises.
So the important thing that I wanted to get across in this article is that if you don’t take your pain medication routinely you will not be able to do your exercises as vigorously as you need to.
Build your day around taking your pain medication and doing your exercises and your Rehabilitation time be short and sweet.
After having knee surgery, it’s normal to have a lot of questions. “Why can’t I lift my leg?”, “How am I supposed to use the bathroom?”, “Is this amount of pain normal?”, and last but certainly not least, “What’s the average recovery time for knee replacement surgery?”etc.
Before you say anything realize this: It’s normal for anyone that’s uncomfortable or in a bit of distress to want to get out of it as soon as possible. You’re not the only one who’s had these questions or similar ones. It happens with most anyone after they’ve had a knee (or two!) replaced.
I have personally asked people who have recently gone through the surgery “What’s the one question you have about your rehab program?”
What’s The Timeline For Total Knee Recovery
The answer they give more than any other is they want to have a better understanding of the knee replacement recovery timeline. It seems that during the whole process that this bit of information has either been forgotten or lost site of.
That’s probably because it wasn’t adequately emphasized during the build up to the knee replacement surgery date. When you’re getting ready to undergo a major surgery like this, there is a lot of preparation that your doctors and you have to go through.
The long and the short of it is that people really want to know what to expect after having a total knee. They want to get back to their lives. They have stuff that need’s doing and they can’t remember if anyone has said exactly how long is recovery after knee replacement surgery.
There is no ball park answer to recovery time. But, for a lot of people about 3-4 months is usually when they start feeling really confident about their abilities. But, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be totally healed by this time. Many doctors say 6 months to a year.
Many people, after getting a tkr, don’t realize that their muscles are going to be very weak after being down for several months. It takes time to heal, and then build strength, and them place demands on the repaired leg. Keep in mind, it is a major surgery.
How Long Will It Take To Get Better After TKR
And, your recovery time is also dependent on how well you heal, if you have any co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity, heart problems, etc. If you have other things that will slow you down or affect your healing process, then you may take a little longer than they next person to get back in the saddle.
You’re usually discharged to home within the first week of surgery. And, you’re going to feel pretty useless during the first couple of weeks after surgery. But work on your range of motion and keeping your swelling down by elevating and using a good ice pack.
STAY AHEAD OF YOUR PAIN! By taking your pain meds routinely and using ice.
By about the end of week 2 you’ll be walking pretty well but still using the walker. You’re going to still need to really focus on your bending and straightening.
At the end of week 3 you’ll probably start feeling a lot better about yourself and see some light at the end of the tunnel. Your leg will still be stiff but it won’t hurt as much and you’ll be able to move it around better.
This is when the inflammatory process starts to wind down. Having gotten the staples removed and with the swelling diminished, you should start seeing good gains in range of motion. That is if you’ve been diligent with your exercise routine.
You will probably start forgetting to use your walker and find that you’re pushing your limits a little too much. You’ll know this because you’re going to find that you “over do it” and have to spend time recovering.
Now you’re probably really feeling a little more “frisky”. However, just because you feel this way does not mean that you and your knee are “ready to get back in the game”.
This is a critical time that you really need to be careful. You’re going to feel like doing a lot more physical activity and feel as though you’re a super hero. But, you’re still not out of the woods. Your body is still recovering from the trauma of the surgery.
Getting some insight from your outpatient physical therapist at this time is a good idea. Progress slowly in the amount of activity that you want to do and remember, high impact things like jogging or playing tennis are things that should be avoided.
How To Best Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery
The best thing to do to ensure a swift and speedy recovery is to follow your doctor’s recommendations and those of any other health care professional you’re working with.
Get into a daily routine of working on your range of motion and managing your swelling. Rest so that your operated leg is not constantly irritated and inflamed.
Make sure that you’re diet and water intake is good enough to nourish your body and supply it with all the healing nutrients you need.
And, be patient.
Nature may seem like it’s taking ages to do it’s job. But, that’s just because we don’t understand all the things that are going on behind the scenes. Trust that your body knows what it’s doing and things will probably turn out just fine.
“I want to get back to Normal. I want to start walking without this walker. When can I do that?”
One thing you really want to keep an eye on once you’ve had your knee replacement surgery is how much swelling is in the knee.
If you are doing a lot of walking the chances of your knee staying irritated and swollen are pretty high.
If you have a lot of swelling in the knee, you’re going to have a lot more pain, and also it’s going to be difficult to bend or straighten the knee.
And if you keep the knee swollen and irritated there is a greater opportunity for you to develop an infection or a DVT.
However this does not mean that you shouldn’t be walking, for practicing how to walk normally. But what it does mean is that you need to make sure that the amount of walking that you’re doing is not irritating your knee.
The amount of walking that you’re able to do was going to change on a daily basis. Some days depending on your pain level and whether you are tired or not may be better than others. Some days may be worse.
But the general trend in your ability to walk should improve on a weekly basis. You will find that you will be able to walk better and for longer periods of time as you go through the healing process.
Your challenge is going to be to focus on how your knee is responding to the amount of walking that you’re doing.
Once people get home from the hospital they find that there are all sorts of things that they need to be doing. Things like doing the laundry, taking the garbage out, even trying to do things like vacuuming and other household chores.
When you’re trying to recover from a knee replacement surgery, things like that need to be put a side and on the back burner. Its a better idea just to focus on how your knee is responding to the things that you’re doing rather than how many things you can do.
This particular article is for anyone who has recently had a total knee replacement.
When you’re discharged from the hospital after a surgery the doctors and nurses generally load you up with lots of instructions and lots of paperwork and send you on your way.
Don’t feel bad if you feel overwhelmed and a little confused by the time you get home. That amount of information in a very short period of time frequently leaves people in the dark about what is supposed to happen when they get home.
For anyone who has recently had a knee replacement surgery, from a physical therapy standpoint, there are only two things you really need to be concerned about. And there are three things that you really need to focus on doing.
Your home health nurse can especially help you with the two things you need to be concerned about. They are number one, preventing and infection, and number two, preventing a blood clot or DVT.
the three things you need to focus on doing after a knee replacement surgery are bending the leg, straightening the leg, and elevating the leg to manage your swelling.
It’s really that simple from a physical therapy standpoint. This is because the only thing that really does not return without a lot of effort after a knee replacement surgery is your range of motion.
Your ability to walk will return on its own. The ability to lift your leg will return on its own. The ability to get up and down from a chair, or get in and out of the bed, will return on their own.
But what makes all of these activities a lot easier to do, is having good range of motion in the surgical knee.
This is just as important for those who had their knee replacement some time ago. If you’re still not able to bend your knee or straighten your knee it’s a lot more difficult to move around.
So what should you be focusing on?
For knee flexion really focus on any activity that allows you to stretch the knee into flexion. This could be the heel slide. Or it could be something as aggressive as standing up and sitting down from a chair with your knees bent. If you try to do this last movement please make sure that you’re not trying to put all your weight on your leg.
In order to straighten your leg, the exercise you want to focus on is the hamstring stretch or the calf stretch. Both of these movements can be done either in sitting or lying down on the bed. Or with the calf stretch you can do that when you’re standing up. I have written a previous blog post about that with a photo.
So just remember for those of you who have recently gotten out of the hospital and are a little confused with what to do next, the emphasis should really be on preventing infection as well as blood clots or DVD.
And also you should be emphasizing bending your leg, straightening your leg, and elevating your leg.
If you number that mild that’s really only five things that you really need to think about and focus on in order to have good recovery from a total knee replacement.
Getting off the Walker is a milestone that a lot of total knee patients want to hit sooner rather than later.
But I usually tell people don’t be in such a rush to abandon your walker just yet.
What you’re really interested in doing with the Walker, is improving the quality of how you walk. Not just how far you can walk.
When using your Walker, the emphasis should be on practicing how you walk. Or, practicing how to walk normally. Your surgical leg should be doing the same thing your good leg is doing.
This may be hard for some because there may be pain, or your range of motion may still be limited.
But one of the biggest problems that people have is overcoming bad habits of walking.
People who have had a total knee replacement generally have had pain in their need for a long time. And that leg has become weak and the muscles have become tight. This has caused people to walk with a limp or basically compensate how they walk even before they had their surgeries.
So it is important for anyone who has had a knee replacement to understand that not only are you overcoming the pain and soreness from the surgery, you’re also trying to overcome the bad habits that you developed previously before the surgery.
Here is a tip: make sure that your Surgical knee is as straight as possible when standing on it. This takes place when you are stepping forward with your non surgical leg.
To do this you may have to put more weight on your arms when you’re using your Walker. But it’s important to learn how to straighten your surgical knee and to bear weight on it.
This is necessary in order to have a normal gait cycle or walking pattern.
If you have trouble straightening your surgical Knee, then you may have to spend more time working on your extension range of motion.
The exercises that work on your knee extension are they standing calf stretch and the hamstring stretch and the passive knee extension. You can do this easily with a stretching strap.
So keep this in mind if you are one of those who are trying to get off the water as soon as possible. It may be more beneficial to stay on the water longer and practice how you walk. This will help you a lot more in the long run.