Worried about how to take care of your artificial knee after a knee replacement surgery? Though the average recovery time varies between six to twelve months, you can expedite and ease the process by taking appropriate postoperative care.
Knee replacement surgery is performed when the knee is severely damaged from an injury, or a degenerative disease like arthritis, to fix the damaged knee joint and provide relief from pain. And postoperative care plays a crucial role in restoring the normal functioning of the knee. Here are some of the ways that will help you along your road to recovery:
Breakthrough techniques like fast-track anaesthesia and IPACK block have already made the recovery process significantly less painful and much faster. Yet, after the surgery, you will experience some pain and discomfort. And an effective pain management plan designed based on the location, intensity and the type of pain will come to your rescue. Your doctor will prescribe oral pain medications for up to several weeks. These include Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve).
Your doctor will ask you to start walking in the hospital, even before you are discharged from the hospital. This is to prevent complications like blood clots, improves circulation, and keeps the joints flexible. You can take the help of a walker and start practicing.
Getting back on your feet delivers important nutrients to the knee which in turn speeds up the healing process. Most patients walk independently within four to eight weeks of knee replacement.
Rehabilitation begins within the first 24 hours after your surgery, under the supervision of a physical therapist who suggests a range of physical movements aimed at strengthen the muscles. These therapy helps restore functionality of the limb at least enough to perform daily activities with the help of assistive devices such as a crutch or a walker. Before getting discharged from the hospital, you should be able to bend the knee to a minimum of a 90-degree angle, and perform daily activities without depending much on the assistive devices. Physical therapy continues for sometime even after you feel well and confident to restore natural movement of the knee joint.
Apart from physical therapy, it is important to perform exercise. These exercises are different from the healing movements that you perform during physical therapy. The orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist will show you how to do them. You have to do them at least for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. They help restore the strength and mobility to your knee and facilitate a gradual return to your daily routine. Exercises include:
- Bending and extending the joint while seated
- Leg presses using a resistance band
Keep in mind that the exercises are recommended based on the complexity of the surgery, your overall physical health, and the amount of time that has passed since the surgery. So you have to work along with your doctor to devise an exercise plan that is safe for you to perform.
Your body requires surplus nutrients to recovery from the surgery. Your diet should include:
- Iron-rich Foods: Foods that are rich in iron such as red meats, leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and kale), beans, and dried fruits help you make up for the small amount of blood loss during the surgery.
- Anti-inflammatory Diet: Swelling and bruising is common after surgery. Foods high in antioxidants (typically dark red in color) such as pomegranates, red cherries, and beets prevent inflammation. Avoid foods that are high in processed sugar, because they increase inflammation.
- Water: During the surgery, anaesthesia and other drugs used dehydrate your body. So it is important to replenish the fluids your body. Consuming water and other liquids helps prevent constipation, a common side effect of anaesthesia and some pain relievers.
- Solid foods: It is important that you have some solid food before you take your medicines. Solid food protects your stomach from the medications administered during/after surgery and prevents nausea.
At last but not the least, resting your knee sufficiently is as important as the aforementioned points. Getting enough rest, keeping the leg elevated, and applying ice, boost healing and reduce swelling.