Deciding on having a total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement) being done is a big decision. Of course, part of this decision is wondering how the healing process will be after the surgery. You will hear different opinions and different views on this.
Some people can take pain better than others. Some people will heal quicker than others. Plus, some people can tolerate the medication better than others. You should also remember if you have any problems with sedatives or being put to sleep, you may have a rough first few hours or even days. These are all things that you should realize as you talk to this over with other people.
Yet, the following information is generally something every patient should expect, no matter what doctor he or she uses, and no matter what age or sex the patient is.
• After surgery and as the anesthesia medication begins to wear off, you may want a pain medication, ask for it if it is not given to you. In most instances, a nurse will ask you if you need any or just give you some without asking.
• Be expected to stay overnight at the hospital. However, this does not mean that you will lie in bed continuously. Most surgeons will want to stand up by evening.
• Physical therapy will begin by the next morning. You will be taught how to get out of bed without putting pressure on your knee. You will also be taught how to use a walker. In most cases, you will be expected to make 10 steps.
• Later in the day, if your vitals are doing well, you should be expected to go home. Remember getting into the car may be painful. Do not be shy to ask for help.
• Once you are home, you will be required to continue with your exercises. Most physical therapists will also give you a sheet of exercises that you are to do at home. Basically, these exercises are simple moves that you are to make to help keep your blood from clotting. These first few days you may be required to do this every two hours, if there is a greater chance of you developing a clot.
• Once you are released from home, you will be required to see a physical therapist about three times a week. This can be painful in the beginning. This is why you will be sent home with some prescriptions for pain medication. This medication is to be taken if needed. You do not need to be a martyr. Yet, on the same note, once you find that your pain is decreasing you should begin cutting back on these medications.
• On the first few days after your surgery, you should get as much rest as you can. However, continue to follow any exercise plans that your doctors set up for you.
• You will continue to use the walker as long as your physical therapist recommends. Once you begin to walk better you will probably graduate to using a cane for support.
• Try your best not to miss any of your physical therapy appointments and any follow up visits to your doctor. These are the two keys to healing quicker.