The most prevalent form of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which can cause substantial knee pain and disability. Weight-bearing makes symptoms worse, and in severe instances, even ordinary chores might become challenging. Initially, a doctor will recommend lifestyle adjustments, such as exercise and weight loss. However, you may eventually require total knee replacement surgery, which involves a surgeon removing damaged tissue in your knee and replacing it with an artificial joint.

Any surgery may be nerve-wracking, but knowing what to expect afterward can help you prepare and increase your chances of a favorable outcome in the long run.

What Happens During the Surgical Procedure of a Total Knee Replacement?

General anesthesia, spinal (epidural) anesthesia, and peripheral nerve blocks are used to perform most knee replacement surgeries. You can take antibiotics at least once to lessen the chance of infection.

The surgeon will remove bone and damaged cartilage from the area where your thigh bone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) connect at your knee joint during the treatment.

A metal implant is then used to replace those surfaces. The rear of the kneecap is usually replaced with a special plastic, and then this same plastic is sandwiched between the two metal components. It restores smooth surfaces to both bones of your knee joint, allowing them to flex and bend more quickly and painlessly.

Common Symptoms After a Total Knee Replacement?

You will have to wait for a few weeks after being discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation center before seeing your surgeon for a follow-up appointment. This time is crucial in your recovery, and you may need outpatient therapy to achieve the best long-term effects from your operation.

Patients usually fare pretty well after being discharged. However, here are some common symptoms after this procedure:

  • You have increasing pain in the operative area.
  • Experience discomfort in your operated knee, and you may have difficulty sleeping at night.
  • Swelling of the knee.
  • After a total knee replacement, your ability to flex (bend your knee) has decreased.

How to Manage Pain and Swelling Throughout the Knee at Home

Your surgeon will advise you on positioning your knee after the procedure. When seated or sleeping, keep your recuperating knee straight and avoid bending. Although it may be unpleasant at first, keeping appropriate knee alignment will help the healing process quickly.

Here are some ways to manage pain and swelling:

Elevation and Icing

You should expect swelling after a total knee replacement. Swelling can increase discomfort and limit range of motion. Therefore, it’s critical to take action to minimize swelling. To reduce swelling, continue to use ice packs or another kind of cold treatment.

To aid in reducing swelling, elevate the leg. It’s critical to elevate the entire leg down to the ankle. You should elevate your feet above the level of your heart. You can also elevate using pillows, but never put one behind your knee. When your knee is lifted, it should be as straight as possible.

Pumps and Circles on the Ankles

Pull your feet toward you, then push them away from you to pump your feet up and down. Rotate your feet clockwise and counterclockwise as well. While you’re awake, you should also do ten ankle pumps every hour.

Take Your Medicine as Directed

If you feel any discomfort, take your pain medication. Don’t wait until the pain is severe to get help. As carefully as possible, follow the advice on the prescription label. Before doing any strenuous activity or going to bed, remember to take your pain medication.

Use a Walker, Crutches, or a Cane

As directed by your surgeon or therapist, use your assistive aids for balance. You may have transitioned from a walker or crutches to a cane by your first post-op appointment with your surgeon.

Exercises to Complete at Home After a Total Knee Replacement

Quadriceps Sets

Lie down on your back, legs straight. Push your knee down the bed to tighten your thigh muscle. Count to ten (1 set). Perform two sets every day.

Gluteal Sets

Lie down on your back, legs straight. Squeeze your buttocks together and tighten the muscles. Then take a deep breath, but don’t hold it. Count to ten (1 set). Perform two sets every day.

Heels Slides

Lie down flat on your back. You can bend your surgical knee by moving your heel toward your buttocks. Count to ten (1 set). Perform two sets every day.

Short Arc Quads

Roll a towel beneath your knee and lie on your back. Raise your foot slowly while keeping your thigh on the roll to straighten your surgical knee. Count to ten (1 set). Perform two sets every day.

Long Arc Quads

Sit straight in a chair or on the edge of a bed. Straighten your knee slowly, then gradually lower it again. Count to ten (1 set). Perform two sets every day.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

After total knee replacement surgery, recovering your strength is vital to regaining your ability to accomplish critical activities. Soon after your operation, you will begin following a fitness routine.

A physical therapist assists patients in all stages of recovery, from the initial diagnosis through the restorative and preventative stages. Your physical therapist will initially help you with the exercises, requiring you to do them as directed. The therapist will eliminate some workouts as you heal, while others may be added.

Physical therapy can be done alone or with other treatments. If you’re experiencing trouble with your exercises, please let your therapist or surgeon know. For all your physical therapy needs, please contact Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation on 570-208-2787.