After A Partial Knee Replacement - Answers To Your Questions
Knee Replacement Surgery
Total Knee Replacement Recovery - Answers To Your Questions
I'm doing this video because I have experience with total knee replacement recovery since I had this type of surgery done several years ago. In the next few minutes, I'll cover answers to questions you may have if you expect to have a total knee replacement operation soon. I've confirmed the information in this video by doing research on a number of reliable medical websites, including these.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Your age, general health and physical condition play a role here, but you'll probably be discharged 2-3 days after your surgery. Your doctor will want to know you can stand, move about with the assistance of a walker or cane, and flex and extend your knee sufficiently.
How long will I need assistance walking?
You'll need the cane or walker for 2-3 weeks.
When can I take a shower or bath?
In most cases, you can shower as soon as you get home, provided you cover your incision with some kind of waterproofing. I simply used a plastic grocery bag with the bottom cut out. I made sure it was big enough to cover the knee with plenty of room to spare, then I secured it with adhesive tape. Your surgeon will tell you how long you'll need to keep doing this. My doctor told me not to soak in a tub or swim, even with the knee covered, for 3-4 weeks.
What about ice packs to keep down swelling?
Your doctor will probably tell you to "ice" your knee several times a day, for about 20 to 30 minutes each time. You'll probably need to keep doing it for a few weeks, and for a bit longer after doing physical therapy exercises. Periodically elevating your leg with pillows helps reduce swelling too.
How about physical therapy?
Physical therapy exercises generally start right away. You'll work with hospital staff or a qualified trainer in a well equipped rehabilitation center. Exercises help you get back to normal as soon as possible. You'll probably need to go several times a week for as long as 3 months and it will probably take about that long before you're ready to resume most activities without feeling some discomfort. Expect to regain full strength and range of motion -- or close to it -- in 6-12 months.
When can I start driving again?
It depends on the how well your rehabilition therapy goes, but also which leg had the operation. If the surgery took place on your right knee, you'll probably need 2-6 weeks before it's safe to get behind the wheel. If the left knee underwent surgery, you won't need that long.
How long before I can return to work?
Once again, the answer to this question depends on your general health, physical demands of your job, and how you travel to work -- by driving, taking a bus or train, etc. For jobs that allow you to stay seated most of the time, expect to return in 2-6 weeks. But if your job requires a lot of walking, standing or kneeling, or are physically demanding like construction, it may be up to 3 months.
How about recreational execrise and competitive sports?
This varies, naturally, on the type of activity. Talk to your surgeon because naturally, some exercises and physical activities are tougher on your knees than others.
When I travel normally?
You'll also need to ask some questions about when you can sit on an extended airplane flight or a long driving vacation. The concern with those is the danger of developing blood clots, which are more common after surgery. Your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner before your trip, or may tell you to postpone your plans for several months.
When going through airport-style security, you may set off metal detectors, although this is rare. I usually alert the screeners I've had a joint replacement, then I just follow their instructions. My doctor gave me documentation -- a small card -- to show screeners just in case, but no one has ever asked me to
What are the long term effects?
Kneeling and stooping may make you a bit uneasy for a while. This will lessen with time, but in some cases it may never completely go away. Some patients notice occasional discomfort, stiffness, minor swelling, or perhaps less range of motion. You may experience slight puffiness, but no discomfort, in the area around your knee for years.
Will I ever need to "replace my replacement?"
Depending on your age at the time of your operation, and the demands you put on your knee, you may wear out the non-organic components in your knee. But these days, such components are extremely durable, lasting many years, and most patients never need a "tune up."