Knee Replacement Surgery: Everything You Need to Know

Rohan Mathew

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Your knees are in constant pain. No matter how many over-the-counter medications you take, you can’t seem to get a single moment of relief.

When you go to the doctor, they give you cortisone injections but not even that works. It sounds like it might be time for you to go in for knee replacement surgery. Recovering from knee replacement can be difficult but it’s not impossible.

You’ve just got to know what to expect before and after the surgery. We can help you with that. Check out this helpful guide to learn everything you need to know about total knee replacement surgery.

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Preparing for Knee Surgery

Like any surgery, recovery starts before you go under the knife. As long as you make proper preparations days or even weeks before your surgery, you shouldn’t run into too many complications when everything is said and done.

Choose a Person to Assist You 

You’re not going to be able to do much once you get out of surgery. That’s why you need to pick one person that you trust to help you out with your daily life while you’re recovering.

This person will come to all your after-surgery appointments and therapy sessions with you. This way you’ll have someone who can coach you through the at-home exercises and remind you when you need to take your medicines.

Prep Your Home 

Even if you have someone helping you get around your house, accidents do happen. To prevent a fall, you need to make sure that your stairs and floors are clear from obstructions.

Remove any electrical wires that are protruding into your normal walking paths. See if someone can let you borrow a sturdy chair that can withstand the pressure you put on it while you sit or stand.

Trade out the normal bathmats in your bathroom with ones that are slip-proof and install grab bars. You can’t use the towel bar for this purpose because it won’t be durable enough.

Other Preparation Tips

If you’re taking any supplements or vitamins, you should stop taking them about two weeks before your surgery date. They may interfere with the anesthesia.

One week before your surgery, stop taking aspirin products unless you’re taking it for some kind of condition. In which case, talk to your doctor first.

Don’t eat, smoke, or drink the night before your surgery. You’ll be given something called Hibiclens before your procedure. Bathe with it the night before and the morning of your knee replacement.

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Things to Expect 

It’s easy to be nervous the night before your total or partial knee replacement surgery. Rest assured your doctors are armed with the latest cables for surgical devices.

You’ll be in good hands. If this assurance has done nothing to quell your fears, here is a list of things you can expect the day of the surgery and after.

Day of the Surgery

When you come into the hospital, a nurse will come in and do the basic health screening and IV prep. How long does knee replacement surgery take? A few hours at least.

When you first wake up, you’ll stay in a Post Anesthesia Care Unit for a few hours. Once you’ve woken up a bit more, you’ll be moved to a regular hospital room.

Remember, to prevent falls, use the nurse call button if you need to get up for any reason at all.

Hospital Recovery 

You’ll need to have a clean bill of health before you can leave the hospital. The doctors can help with some of this but you have to do your part too. Once per hour, breathe heavily or cough to keep pneumonia away.

You’ll have regular physical therapy sessions but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some exercises in your bed to prevent blood clots. There’s nothing wrong with doing a few ankle pumps or isometric gluteals.

The last thing you want is infection. Ask all your guests to use hand sanitizer and keep your dressing clean. Your doctor will help with this last part while you’re in the hospital but once you go home, you’ll be on your own.

Going Home 

Once your doctor deems you fit to go home, you’ll be released into the care of the person you chose for step one. In order to keep the surgery site from getting infected, you’ll need to do a little bit of work at home.

Take Care of the Surgery Site 

Your doctor will give you a list of instructions that you’ll have to follow to the letter to keep your dressing clean. You will notice a little bit of swelling and redness around the area of the wound but that’s nothing abnormal.

What is abnormal is a gross-smelling discharge coming from the wound, high fevers, and increased pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, get on the phone with your doctor.

Reduce Swelling

Again, experiencing a little swelling after surgery is normal. You can prevent some of it by keeping your leg elevated and using cold therapy. Just make sure that you don’t put the bag of frozen peas directly on your skin.

Your doctor will send you home with some medication for pain and inflammation that should help with swelling as well.

Preventing Falls and Blood Clots 

The last thing you want to deal with is a blood clot. You can prevent them by keeping up with those ankle pumps we talked about before. Small bits of activity will do you a world of good.

Your doctor will give you medication to prevent blood clots as well. Make sure that you take them and try wearing compression socks.

Get Ready for Your Knee Replacement Surgery 

If nothing has helped reduce your knee pain, it might be time for you to consider knee replacement surgery. Like with any procedure, knee replacement doesn’t come without its fair share of complications. As long as you follow the tips we’ve gone over though, you should be prepared for anything.

The best way to recover from knee surgery is to prevent yourself from having to get the procedure done in the first place. Check out the health section of our blog daily to learn more about taking care of your knees.