By John Kagan, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon –
If you or a family member will be having knee surgery, you might be wondering what to expect when you return home from the hospital. How much discomfort will you be in? Will you be able to get by without help or will you need someone to assist you? How soon will you get back to your regular activities?
Here is an overview of what you canexpect for the first few days and weeks after your knee surgery.
1. You will definitely need someone to assist you at home – preferably a spouse or another family member who can stay with you around the clock for a while until you feel strong enough to manage on your own. Because you will not be able to drive a car for about six weeks, you will also need to rely on someone to take you back and forth to doctor appointments, to the grocery store or other errands.
2. Exercise is vital to recovery. Short walks are good and will strengthen the muscles in the upper and lower leg, while helping stabilize the knee joint. You will also be prescribed specific exercises to improve the range of motion and flexibility in your knee. A physical therapy may come to the house or you may go for therapy at the doctor’s office or outpatient center. Expect to use crutches or a walker at first to help you get around. And be sure to rest frequently and not overdo it at first.
3. Medication will be prescribed for pain control. It’s much easier to prevent the pain that to “chase it.” Take pain medication about 30 minutes before physical therapy. Ice packs and elevating the leg will help reduce swelling and discomfort. A footstool can be handy for elevating your leg.
4. For a few weeks, if you can, avoid sitting in chairs that are low to the ground, chairs without arms or overstuffed furniture. It will be difficult to pull yourself up and out of this type of furniture.
5. Expect to use crutches or a walker to help you get around at first. The doctor will let you know how soon you can put weight on the leg and knee that underwent the procedure. Always lead with your non-operated leg and knee first.
6. Don’t leave preparations to the last minute – get your home ready a week or so before surgery. Have the laundry done, the house cleaned, food shopping done and meals frozen and ready for when you need them.
7. Remove throw rugs and eliminate clutter, including moving furniture if necessary, to avoid tripping or falling when you get home.
8. Some final tips for when you do get home:
- Don’t attempt to carry anything. Attach a bag or basket to your walker to make it easier to carry small items. Slide items along the counter rather than picking them up and carrying them.
- To make showering easier, use a hand-held shower hose and be sure to place a non-skid rubber mat on the bottom of the shower stall or bathtub.
- Use liquid soap so you won’t have to worry about bending over to pick up a bar of soap if you drop it.
- Avoid climbing stairs. If you do have to use stairs, make sure there is a handrail to help you.
- Expect full recovery to take approximately six to eight weeks.
A little advance preparation can make it easier to return home from the hospital following surgery on your knee.
Do you have questions about knee pain, joint replacement or orthopedic concerns?
Call 239-936-6778 or visit www.kaganortho.com.