Recovering From Knee Replacement? Do It Right!
When I talk to patients regarding total knee replacement, one of their main concerns is “how will I recover from such a major surgery”. They worry more about what will happen after surgery, than the surgery itself. The main issues that concern them are the pain after surgery, the recovery process, physiotherapy, dependency on family members etc. Total knee replacement has turned out to be one of the most commonly performed successful surgeries in orthopaedics today.
Down below are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding recovery after total knee replacement.
Will I have pain after Total Knee Replacement surgery?
Most patients following TKR surgery will have some pain, but it will be with intolerable limits. With newer pain management modalities and modern surgical techniques, the intensity of pain has significantly come down following surgery.
When will I walk after surgery?
The first question most patients ask is “when can I start walking ?”. The notion that patients post TKR need rest, till sutures heal is false. Walking post TKR can be done even on day 0, but most patients walk on day-1. This surgery does not involve complete bed rest. The more you move around the quicker you will recover.
How long will I need physiotherapy?
The period we recommend is 4 weeks of dedicated therapy. Some recover faster and need less therapy. The trick to recovering faster is to do therapy on our own and not just rely on the physiotherapist only. Most therapists spend around 30-45 min per day. It is important that the patients also do exercises on their own. I recommend that you get out of bed every 4-6 hours and walk for a few steps. This not only avoids stiffness in the knee but also avoids other complications like blood clots in the calf muscles.
When will I completely recover from the surgery?
Suture line usually heals in 2 weeks. The postoperative swelling reduces with 3-4 weeks. Most patients should feel normal and walk without any support by 4-6 weeks.
Right after surgery :
Day 0 – Right after surgery, since the anaesthesia still hasn’t worn out, all patients are pretty comfortable with no pain. As the anaesthesia wears out the pain starts. All the necessary pain medications are started to bridge the pain including nerve blocks.
The usual hospital stay after total knee replacement is on an average of 2 days for a single knee and 3 days for both knees. The main objectives we try to achieve before discharging the patient home are as follows
- Reasonable pain relief with oral pain medication
- Able to do regular physiotherapy including walking with a walker
- Suture line clean and dry
- No pending medical issues such as sugar and blood pressure control
The success of knee replacement surgery depends on many factors. One is getting operated in a high volume centre with excellent expertise. This is where sunshine hospitals have an unparalleled advantage over any other hospital in south India. We perform over 4000 Knee Replacements in a year, which is 2nd highest in South Asia. Secondly, patient motivation is crucial for a successful surgery. The main advantage we have in our country is our social and family structure is robust. This helps to boost the patients’ morale and helps them in their recovery process.
Knee replacement recovery: Facts
- Duration of hospital stay after TKR – single knee 2-3 days, Both knees – 3-4 days
- Time to suture removal – 2 weeks
- Recommended time for use of a walker – 3-4 weeks
- Time for postoperative swelling to reduce – 3-4 weeks
- The recommended time duration for physical therapy – 4 weeks
- Your first post-op visit after surgery – 1 month
Things to prepare and acquire at home after TKR
- Booster seat for the bathroom
- A footrest at the bathroom, if the door clearance is high
- Ice packs
- Extra dressings to change any soiled ones.
- The bed height should be convenient enough for easy in and out for the patient.