Facts, guidelines and all you need to know about a knee replacement surgery and recovery:
With the growing rates in health depletion, most of us look into many different treatments, remedies and medications for certain unavoidable problems we face with our health. One such major problem that many of us at later stages of our adulthood, or may be some athletes face is a knee joint deterioration.
Rakesh speaks out a few questions in this article seeking guidelines to recover from a knee replacement surgery he chose to have. Rakesh is 47 years old and has been facing severe knee pain for which we suggested a knee replacement for him after a detailed analysis of his case.
Let us understand what a knee joint is, how it functions, and what causes the need for a knee replacement. This will help you understand the recovery process better.
The Knee Joint – An Introduction
The knee joint is the most complex joints in the body. It connects the thighbone and the shin bone or the forelimb bone. The knee joint has two joints. The major joint is between the femur or (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). The smaller joint is between the kneecap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur). A tissue called articular cartilage covers the edges of the bones and allows them to slide over each other smoothly. A bag like membrane known as synovial membrane covers the surfaces of the knee joint. The synovial membrane produces synovial fluid which lubricates the knee joint.
Any damage to the articular cartilage, results in rubbing of the edges of the bones. When the bones rub over each other, it causes pain and discomfort in the functioning of knee joint. As a result of this severe damage, the joint becomes stiff. This pain and stiffness affects the quality of an active lifestyle. Though painkillers give some relief, they do not help in improving the functioning of the joint. This dysfunctional knee may need replacement in order for the person to be able to walk again.
Let’s find out what Rakesh asked us before getting his knee replacement operation done:
What is Knee replacement?
Arthroplasty, commonly known as knee replacement surgery, is a procedure that orthopedic surgeons perform to replace a damaged, or diseased knee with an artificial joint. The goal of a knee replacement is to restore proper functioning of the knee joint and relief from pain.
What happens immediately after the surgery?
In the surgical ward, You will be provided with a switch to self check pain-killers safely. You might also be given oxygen through a mask or tubes based on requirement. In some cases there are chances that you might also require be given a blood transfusion.
You will have a large dressing on your knee to protect the surgical wound.
The Recovery Phase – 6 to 8 weeks for total recovery
You need not be surprised if you feel extremely tired at the beginning. Recovery usually varies based on the type of surgery and the individual’s healing capacity. It’s quite normal since you’ve just had a major surgery after which the muscles and tissues that surround your replaced knee take time to heal. In advanced stages of recovery, you will be prescribed exercises like, climbing stairs and walking on elevated or sloped surfaces. The pace of recovery depends on your sincerity regularly doing the exercises that your physiotherapist suggests.
When can I consider getting back home?
Soon after you get back home you might feel extremely tired at the beginning of your recovery. This happens because the muscles and tissues that surround your new knee take time to heal. You will leave hospital after 3 days. You’ll usually have to stay in the hospital for three to five days, depending on the progress takes place and what type of knee replacement you have. Patients who have a half knee replacement usually have a shorter hospital stay. If your recovery shows rapid results and seem to be comfortable with movements, the surgeon may suggest an enhanced recovery programme where you will be made to walk on the day of the operation. The exercises must be done two to three times a day, every day after surgery and each exercise should be repeated 5 times to begin with and extend it to 20 times.
How long does it take to feel normal?
It usually takes about six weeks to resume normal day to day and leisure activities after the surgery. However, it might take three months for the pain and swelling to recede. Your new knee might take one to two years to heal after your operation. During this healing process, the scar tissue starts healing and muscles get restored by regular exercise.
When can I resume Driving and get back to professional life?
You can resume driving the moment you can bend your knee as much as you can, to manage driving and feel comfortable. By four to six weeks after your surgery, you must consult your physiotherapist or doctor to check whether it’s safe for you to drive. Depending on how much pressure you will have at work, you can decide on getting back to work. Usually you may return to work by six to twelve weeks after your operation if your recovery is fast.
These are very common doubts that most of our patients have before a knee replacement surgery. Rakesh too was one such patient who was seeking some guidance to be more convinced over getting a surgery done and was also very worried about being affected by discomfort in the long run. But we assured him that a healthy maintenance with exercise, and following the doctor’s advice after the surgery will make it easy to handle and comfortable in future with no problems.
Here’s a short guide to a few do’s and don’ts while you recover from a knee replacement surgery. You may follow these tips to have your recovery faster and better!
- Continue taking any prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to manage any pain and swelling.
- Do not hesitate to use walking aids.
- Decrease the amount you rely on walking aids slowly as your leg feels stronger.
- Do not force your knee, but be regular in exercising.
- Avoid sitting cross legged for at least six weeks after your surgery.
- Avoid twisting at your knee and putting a pillow under your knee, as it may result in a permanently bent knee.
- Put your leg on an elevation while sitting.
- Use ice packs to reduce any swelling.
It is easy to follow tips to recover faster after a knee replacement. But the most difficult part is to exercise. It is a bit painful initially, as the surgery is fresh and it takes time to heal but it eventually helps in a fast recovery.
So let’s have a look at some quick and interesting exercises to recover after a Knee Replacement Surgery:
- Ankle Rotation: Pull your toes towards you and bend both your ankles upwards. Rotate your ankles in circular motion.
- Squeeze thighs: Tighten the muscles of your front thigh by pushing your knee down into the bed. Hold it for 5 seconds and relax. Repeat the same with for the other leg for 5 to 15 times at least twice a day.
- Straight leg raises: Bend one of your legs with your foot flat on the bed. Raise the other leg up to 12 inches, keeping your knee straight. Hold it there for a brief 5-10 seconds. Slowly push your leg back to the bed and relax. Repeat the same exercise with the other leg.
- Knee bending: Sit at a 90 degree position with your spine straight. Push your calf back bending your knee as much as you can. Slowly go back to the original posture of 90 degree and relax. Repeat this action 5 times with both legs.
- Straightening the Knee: This exercise works helps in straightening your knee that has been replaced. Seat yourself on a sturdy chair with your heel up on another chair, or a footstool leveled equally. You must feel the stretch on the back of your knee. You can do thigh squeezes while sitting in this position to increase the stretch.
- Quad Sets to strengthen your knee and front thigh muscles: You can also do quad sets which help you gain strength in the muscles on top of your thigh. 8 to 12 repetitions at least 3 to 5 times during the day might help.
- Sit on the floor with your replaced knee straight and flat with the muscles on top of your thigh tightened.
- Press the back of your knee flat and down touching the floor.
- Hold for about 5 to 6 seconds and then relax up to 10 seconds.
- A walk every day: Walking everyday for a given time is recommended for complete recovery. It helps build your strength and endurance. Proper walks in the morning and evening and short stoles inside the house during the day is very important for the muscles around your replaced knee to relax and function normally.
Rakesh has been following these exercises regularly as prescribed by us and enjoys his walks! He has also resumed his professional life and driving too. He visits us for routine check ups once in awhile and is doing very well with his new knee.
If you would like to know more about knee replacements and surgeries,
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Dr. Venkat Ram Prasad Vallamshetla is one of the best orthopedic surgeon in Hyderabad. He has done his MBBS, MS Ortho (OSM), MRCS (Edin) and FRCS (Trauma & Orth) from Edinburgh. He has additionally undergone training and has worked in Birmingham for over 12 years with a specialization in Joint Replacement, arthroscopic surgery, sports injuries.
Sri Sri Holistic Hospital is a leading 100 bedded multi specialty hospital in Nizampet, Kukatpally, Hyderabad. Sri Sri Holistic Hospital provides high standards of healthcare with a combination of advanced technology and state of art clinical expertise. With more than 52 Internationally experienced doctors and 400+ staff, we served at least 50,000 patients so far.