5 Key Steps to Successful Knee Replacement Recovery
Prepare in Advance
A successful recovery begins before the surgery itself. It is important to plan ahead to allow yourself to rest and recover immediately after the surgery. Schedule it for a time when you can take the necessary time off work, travel or other commitments. Arrange for friends or family to help you in the initial days after the surgery, when your mobility is more limited.
Talk to your surgeon about preoperative exercises, too. Many knee problems are caused or exacerbated by a lack of strength in the area, and there is some evidence that proper exercises before surgery can increase your chances of a successful and easy recovery.
Take It Slow...
Rest is an important part of recovery, but it can be difficult. The first few days after surgery may require you to stay mostly in bed, and you may need to use crutches or other assistive devices for a few weeks after your surgery. These devices can be bulky or awkward if you are not used to them, but it is important to keep the weight off your knee until it becomes stronger.
...But Not Too Slow
Successful recovery requires activity as well. It is important to stay active during your recovery, although you should tailor your activities to the stage of your rehabilitation. Staying in bed too much can weaken the muscles and tendons that support the knee, as well as limit flexibility.
Staying active and social is also important for your mental health. Many people feel depressed or lonely immediately following any significant surgery, and knee replacements are no exception.
Do Your Homework
Most people see a physical therapist a couple of times a week following knee replacement surgery, and the physical therapist generally prescribes a series of exercises to do at home. It is important that you follow those instructions to the letter. If you're supposed to do your exercises multiple times a day, be sure to carve out the time to do them. These exercises are the key to a successful recovery.
See It Through
Recovery from knee surgery can take several months, and it can sometimes feel like a long and boring process. You may be tempted to quit once you start feeling better and begin regaining your mobility, but it's important to continue your physical therapy and other follow-up care until your doctors and therapists officially discharge you.
If you have been living with knee pain for years, a knee replacement surgery could significantly improve your quality of life by reducing or eliminating that discomfort and improving your mobility. However, the recovery period after the surgery can be long and difficult, and the way you handle that time can impact the success of your surgery. There are several ways to improve the likelihood of a successful recovery.
Although knee replacement requires a major surgery and lengthy recovery time, the results are generally worth it. Prepare in advance, follow your doctors' orders and avoid pushing through too quickly to increase your chances of success.