Managing Your Time With An Orthopedist

Recovery From A Knee Joint Replacement Involves Physical Therapy And Daily Activity

If your knee pain has gotten worse over the years and the pain is interfering with your ability to stay active, it could be time to talk to your doctor about a joint replacement. When your knee joint is damaged by osteoarthritis, replacing your joint could be the best way to relieve your pain so you can return to a more active lifestyle. However, you may be wondering how your life will be impacted during your recovery. Here's a look at what to expect.

Rehabilitation Starts In The Hospital

Whether you have open knee surgery or an arthroscopic procedure, you'll probably stay in the hospital a few days. One reason for that is so you can begin physical therapy right away. Physical therapy is an important part of your recovery so your knee heals properly. Gentle exercises are begun, and your physical therapist teaches you how to stand, transfer to a chair, and walk a few steps so you'll be able to care for yourself with help once you go home.

Your doctor may order a continuous passive motion machine that keeps your knee in motion that you'll start using in the hospital and maybe even use at home. You'll walk a little further and do a little more each day, and when you've met the goals set by the physical therapist in a few days, you'll get to go home from the hospital. If your initial recovery takes longer, your doctor may recommend you transfer to a skilled nursing facility for daily therapy until you're ready to go home.

You'll Need A Walker Or Crutches

You won't be able to bear weight on your knee right away, so expect to need a wheelchair or walker at first. You will eventually transfer to a cane as your knee gets stronger and you are in less pain. Your physical therapist will have you walk each day and increase the distance you walk. You'll probably be advised against being too sedentary as this could interfere with your healing.

You'll Do Exercises As Prescribed

You'll go home with instructions on the type of exercises to do at home and how often to do them. Your exercise routine will change as your knee heals, and you'll have regular visits with a physical therapist who will monitor your progress and give you new exercises to do when you're ready. Around the end of your first month of recovery, you should be mobile and healing well. Your doctor may then let you know when you can go back to work.

Your Pain Will Gradually Improve

The usual knee pain you feel should be gone after you've had a joint replacement, but you'll have pain from the procedure that could last for several weeks. The pain intensity drops off quickly, and you'll wean off your pain medications within several weeks. Then you'll notice how much the surgery helped your knee pain.

You may find you can do many activities you had to give up due to arthritis pain, and your lifestyle could become more active as the months go on. However, it may take up to a year to recover completely from your joint replacement. 

For more information on joint replacement treatment, contact an orthopedist.