Recovery from total knee replacement does not have to be a long and difficult process, but it certainly can be a source of anxiety for any patient, regardless of age or physical condition. The good news is that, within a few weeks to a few months after knee surgery, a patient can regain a significant amount of mobility and be free from debilitating pain. It is important to remember, however, that recovery is dependent on several factors, including patience, a healthy diet, and proper care of the recovering joints.
If you are a candidate for knee replacement surgery, or if you are beginning to consider this option because of recurring pain and stiffness in your knees, you most likely have a few questions about the procedure and the total knee replacement recovery process. The physicians at Rothman Institute perform over nine thousand knee operations every year, so we are more than willing and able to address whatever questions and concerns you have about the various options you may be considering at this time. Many of the questions we frequently receive are focused on patients’ prospects for a full and smooth recovery from total knee replacement surgery. We have included a few of these questions below to help put your mind at ease as you face an important medical decision.
Recovery from Total Knee Replacement: Frequently Asked Questions
How soon should I follow up with my doctor after surgery?
This largely depends on whether or not you receive staples or sutures. For staples, you will need to schedule your first post-op visit within three to five weeks after surgery. For sutures, your appointment will be scheduled two weeks after your operation.
How long will I need to take blood thinners?
Anticoagulant medication will be prescribed for six weeks following your surgery. If you are taking aspirin during your recovery from total knee replacement, blood testing is not required. However, if you are prescribed Coumadin, your blood will be tested each week by a home health nurse, and your dosage will be adjusted accordingly.
Will I experience a lot of swelling and bruising in my legs?
Swelling in your knees and throughout your legs is a completely normal occurrence for up to six months after the date of your surgery. To reduce swelling, elevate your legs and apply a bag of ice to the joint for approximately twenty minutes, 3-4 times per day. Bruising typically occurs for a short period of time after surgery, and this is a normal reaction due to blood collecting around the site of the procedure.
What sort of exercises should I do for my knee after surgery?
This depends on your age, weight, and overall physical condition. Recovery from total knee replacement requires various types of physical therapy, and your surgeon will recommend a plan that works best for you. While you will be advised to walk around with a cane for a few weeks, you should be conscientious about the amount of weight and effort you place on your knees while performing simple tasks around the home. In many cases, the patient can stand and begin simple exercises on the day after surgery.
When will I be able to drive again?
If you receive a replacement for your right knee, which you use for braking and accelerating, you will need to wait between two to four weeks before driving. However, your ability to operate a motor vehicle depends on when you stop taking pain medication. Driving while under the influence of prescription medication is a serious danger to yourself and others.
How long will my knee replacement last?
For patients who stay in good shape by eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of their joints, knee replacements can last for twenty years or more. With a 98% chance of success after 10 years and a 94% chance of success after 20 years, properly performed knee replacement surgeries are a substantial long-term investment.
Contact the physicians at Rothman Institute with any further questions about recovery from total knee replacement surgery. We are eager to help you and put your mind at ease as you make this difficult decision. With some of the best surgeons in the field, you can be confident that you are in good hands with Rothman Institute.