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.

Return to Total Knee Replacement

See what others are saying

Comment from: llfoster22, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 25

I am so glad I found this site because now I feel like my recovery from total knee replacement surgery is like the recovery of many other people. More importantly the pain that I'm experiencing is not unusual. My surgery was on 4/6/16. I'm 2 weeks out and will be starting physiotherapy next week. I am having a hard time with the amount of pain and the character of the pain. I'm taking oxycodone every 4 hours or when needed, which is often. It seems like if I push myself with exercise and walking today I will have swelling, stiffness and increased pain tomorrow. However after reading the posts I think this is the nature of the recovery. Good days, not so good days, but I'm moving forward.

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Comment from: Ian, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 29

I had a partial knee replacement five weeks ago, and things were going ok. I had loads of pain waking every two hours through the night but seemed to be improving I've been doing all my exercises but the last week my knee is swelling up and the pain is getting worse. I am starting to get a bit worried if this is normal. I'm back to see the consultant next week, I am starting to get worried.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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