So, you have made the decision to schedule a knee replacement to help improve your quality of life and now you have questions about what to expect immediately following surgery. Let’s talk about some common questions and concerns.
Q: How long will I be in the hospital?
A: Typically, you are in the hospital overnight and are able to return home the day following surgery.
Q: Will I be bed bound after surgery?
A: Absolutely not. Physical therapists will work with you following surgery and will get you walking with a walker that day. You will use the walker for about 1-2 weeks following surgery, and then progress to a cane or crutch as needed.
Q: How will I know what exercises to do?
A: In the hospital your physical therapist will review exercises with you and provide you with exercises to perform daily when you are home. The hospital will also coordinate a physical therapist to come to your home 2-3 times a week following surgery for about two weeks. After that you will start outpatient physical therapy.
Q: My bed is on the second floor. Will I be able to access the bedroom?
A: Part of your physical therapy goals in the hospital will be going up and down stairs, so you will be able to get to the second floor. It is best to limit the number of stairs you perform initially, in other words, spend most of the day on the first floor, and at night climb the stairs to the second-floor bedroom. If possible, it is a good idea to have a spare room, couch or recliner on the first floor prepared in the event you are more comfortable avoiding the stairs for the first few days at home.
Q: What will the knee feel like after surgery?
A: Unfortunately, pain is to be expected following surgery. The first 24 hours you may only experience mild pain due to the pain block you will receive at the time of surgery. Once the block wears off you may experience increased pain. You will be prescribed pain medication based on your level of discomfort. This medication may not completely eliminate the pain, but it will make you feel more comfortable and allow you to perform your exercises. Ice is also very important to utilize for management of pain and swelling. We recommended ice for 20 minutes every hour initially.
Q: Will I be able to shower?
A: In most cases, your knee will be covered in a water resistant dressing when you go home which will allow you to shower. You are not able to take a bath or use a pool. The dressing will stay on until your first post operative visit, so you will not need to change it. If it does loosen or get saturated, call the office for a dressing change.
Q: Will there be swelling?
A: It is very common to have swelling in the knee and also the lower leg after surgery. When you are not walking or performing exercises it is best to elevate the leg, toes above nose if possible, and to ice the knee. Bruising around the knee is also common. Due to gravity, you may notice the bruising extending down the leg over time, even into the foot at times. You will be fitted for compression stockings in the hospital that you will use for four weeks following surgery which will help with the swelling as well.
Hopefully, this has addressed some of your questions. We look forward to seeing you in the office and are always available to answer any additional inquiries.