Preparing For Recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery
Most knee replacement patients have no regrets after the surgery and rehabilitation are complete. However, the long recovery period can be off-putting (and is a key reason why people delay surgery).
So, how can you prepare to handle the recovery period better? There are several things you can and should do before your surgery to prepare.
Prepare Your Home
Expect limited mobility and reduced energy for thefirst few weeks after surgery. You will be using a walker for the first one to three weeks, then crutches for a little while, then a cane. Most people can walk without assistance 4 to 8 weeks after surgery.
Before your surgery, look around your home and make it easier to maneuver with these tips:
Clear a wide enough walking path for a walker and crutches around your furniture. Get help with this if you need it. You will need about three feet of clearance.
Clean up all clutter that could prove a tripping hazard. Falling within those first few weeks can damage your implant and cause the need for revision surgery. At the same time, you will be weak, unbalanced, and more likely to fall.
Rearrange things so you don't have to bend down. Move items from lower cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom so they are easily accessible.
Get a grabbing device so you can pick things up off the ground without bending down.
If you can, adjust your living space so that you can recover entirely on one level of your home.
Ensure there is an entrance to your home that does not have stairs. A ramp placed over stairs can be useful if the only option is to climb stairs.
Ask For Help
Don't be ashamed to find somebody to help you out during those first few weeks if you live alone. It is especially important to have someone stay the night with you if you live alone. Consider subscribing to a meal service so you don't have to cook and make as many meals as possible beforehand then freeze them. If you have a pet, especially a small dog or cat who might get under your feet, have somebody else take them for a little while.
As you won't be able to drive, ask for help with grocery shopping and picking up medications, or arrange for things to be delivered. Find somebody who can do yard care for you.
Getting a bit of help will ease your recovery and keep you from feeling as if you must get stuff done and pushing too hard during your recovery.
Strengthen Your Body First
After your surgery you will be facing months of rehabilitation. It will be easier on your body if you get in shape first. Strengthening your upper body will make using crutches easier.
Exercise can also lead to weight loss, which helps relieve pressure on your knees. Choose activities that don't cause knee pain such as swimming or water aerobics.
It is also important to understand the effects substances will have on your recovery. Alcohol and tobacco can have negative side effects which may complicate your surgery and/or recovery.
Understand Your Medication and Incision Care
Your doctor may ask you to stop some of your medications for a while. They may also give you pain medicine, which you need to take exactly as prescribed. It might be tempting to tough it out, but not taking pain medication may make it impossible for you to do your rehab exercises. The medication might also be intended to reduce swelling and inflammation. If you have side effects from the pain medication, talk to your doctor.
If you get antibiotics, take the full course, unless instructed to do otherwise by your doctor.
Follow your doctor's instructions on how to care for your incision. Ask for instructions. Generally, you should leave the tape on for a week or so, or ideally let it fall off on its own. Avoid swimming and hot tubs for two weeks or until your doctor gives the okay.
Wear a Brace
A knee brace can help improve the stability of your knee and give you support. In fact, your doctor is likely to recommend two braces. An immobilizing brace is used to keep your knee straight, especially at night.
This will help keep your knee straight and keep you from doing something painful in your sleep.