After Surgery & Rehabilitation
After surgery, special stockings are provided to cover the legs to prevent blood clots from forming. A well padded dressing over the knee is applied after the operation.
If general anesthesia was used, a respiratory therapist will visit your room to guide you with a series of exercises to improve breathing and avoid possible problems with pneumonia.
Some surgeons may place a drain in the knee for a few days after surgery. The drain will help to keep swelling down. Too much swelling can cause tension to the operated wound and sometimes can lead to wound oozing. These factors place the knee at risk for infection. The practice of putting a drain in the knee is controversial as some surgeons avoid usage of drains.
You may also have physical therapy treatments every day as long as you are in the hospital. Therapy treatments will address the range of motion in the knee. Your therapist will also demonstrate exercises to improve knee mobility and engage the thigh and hip muscles. Ankle movements help pump swelling out of the leg and prevent the possibility of a blood clot.
When you are stabilized, the therapist will help you mobilise using your crutches or walker. After surgery, you may not be allowed to put weight on the affected leg for a period of time. This varies from surgeon to surgeon.
Patients are able to go home after spending four to seven days in the hospital. You’ll be on your way home when you can get in and out of bed, walk up to 75 feet with your crutches or walker, go up and down stairs safely, and access the bathroom. It is also important that you regain good quadriceps muscle strength and improved knee range of motion. Patients who need extra care may be sent to a different unit of the hospital until they are safe and ready to go home.
Most orthopedic surgeons recommend that you have routine check-ups after your revision surgery. It may vary from every six months to every five years, according to your situation and what your surgeon recommends. You should always consult your orthopedic surgeon if you begin to have pain in your artificial joint or if you begin to suspect something is not working correctly.
After you are discharged from the hospital, your physical therapist may give you home sessions. This is to ensure you are safe at home and while getting in and out of a car. Your therapist will review your exercise program and make recommendations about your safety.
Your staples will be removed two weeks after surgery. Patients are usually able to drive within eight weeks and walk without a walking aid by two to three months. Upon the approval of the surgeon, patients are generally able to resume sexual activity by six to eight weeks after surgery.
Your therapist may use hands-on stretches for improving range of motion. Strength exercises address key muscle groups including the buttock, hip, thigh, and calf muscles. Endurance can be improved through stationary biking, lap swimming, and using an upper body ergometer (upper cycle).
Therapists sometimes treat their patients in a pool. Exercising in a swimming pool puts less stress on the knee joint, and the buoyancy lets you move and exercise easier.
When you are safe in putting full weight through the leg, several types of balance exercises can be chosen to further stabilize and control the knee. Finally, a select group of exercises can be used to simulate day-to-day activities, such as going up and down steps, squatting, and walking on uneven terrain. Specific exercises may then be chosen to simulate work or hobby demands.
Your therapist will work with you to help keep your revised knee joint healthy for as long as possible. This may require that you adjust your activity choices to keep from putting too much strain on your revised knee joint. Heavy sports that require running, jumping, quick stopping and cutting are discouraged. Patients may need to consider alternate jobs to avoid work activities that require heavy lifting, crawling, and climbing.
The therapist’s goal is to help you maximize strength, walk normally, and improve your ability to do your activities. When you are well under way, regular visits to the therapist’s office will end. Your therapist will continue to be a resource, but you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.