Total Knee Replacement - Recovery

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What happens in the postoperative period?

A total knee replacement generally requires between one and a half to three hours of operative time. After surgery, patients are taken to a recovery room, where vital organs are frequently monitored. When stabilized, patients are returned to their hospital room.

Passage of urine can be difficult in the immediate postoperative period, and this condition can be aggravated by pain medications. A catheter inserted into the urethra (a Foley catheter) allows free passage of urine until the patient becomes more mobile.

Physical therapy is an extremely important part of rehabilitation and requires full participation by the patient for optimal outcome. Patients can begin physical therapy 48 hours after surgery. Some degree of pain, discomfort, and stiffness can be expected during the early days of physical therapy. Knee immobilizers are used in order to stabilize the knee while undergoing physical therapy, walking, and sleeping. They may be removed under the guidance of the therapist for various portions of physical therapy.

A unique device that can help speed recovery is the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. The CPM machine is first attached to the operated leg. The machine then constantly moves the knee through various degrees of range of motion for hours while the patient relaxes.

Patients will start walking using a walker and crutches. Eventually, patients will learn to walk up and down stairs and grades. A number of home exercises are given to strengthen thigh and calf muscles.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: bert, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 09

I'm a 49 year old man, I had been dealing with the pain off osteoarthritis for almost 2 years. I finally had surgery on January 28, 2014. I was in hospital for 5 days for pain management, it's been 12 weeks now and I'm still having pain but not as bad as before. I take 800 mg ibuprofen which works for short period. I'm just so aggravated, I have been dealing with it for 2 years before, not going to this time. I am going back to see surgeon to see what the deal is, but it definitely it was worth it besides the pain. Good luck.

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Comment from: randerss, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 09

I had a total knee replacement (TKR) on 02 April, 14. Surgery on Wednesday morning went well, weight bearing on Thursday there was pain and movement was very good. It was 0 degrees on Saturday morning and I was released from hospital lunch time and was home feeling excellent. Having home physiotherapy also is going well. At 3 1/2 weeks my knee is bending at 130 degrees, physiotherapy is wrapped. I still have some pain and it gets stiff at night. I am moving around home unassisted but do take 1 crutch when I go out. I believe I had one of the best medical care available. Thanking the doctor and hospital staff.

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