Recovering from knee replacement surgery takes time and can become overwhelming, but Dr. Dewan and his expert staff are here to guide you through a successful knee replacement. Your post-operative care may not be the first thing you think of when considering surgery, but follow-up visits are vital to ensuring a smooth recovery and optimal rehabilitation.
What Is a Follow-Up Appointment?
Follow-up appointments are appointments scheduled after your surgery; most are scheduled during your first year of recovery. Your doctor may continue to schedule periodic appointments beyond a year to monitor wear on the implant.
These appointments are important as they give your surgeon the ability to monitor your condition, recovery progress, and keep an eye out for any potential problems that may arise. They are also the perfect time to bring forth any questions or concerns you may have about your knee replacement. With these visits you can build a strong, personal patient-doctor relationship, allowing Dr. Dewan and his staff to help you to make the best decisions for your health as you regain strength and range of motion to your knee joint.
Frequency of Appointments
The number of appointments will vary from patient to patient depending on your doctor’s preference and your condition.
Patients are often seen by a physical therapist within the first few days of recovery. Dr. Dewan likes to see his patients at the 2-week mark to follow up on how the incision is healing. Appointments are then scheduled every 6-8 weeks to evaluate and monitor your implant and recovery.
X-rays may be taken at these appointments to assess the alignment of your implant. Additional tests such as blood tests or other diagnostic imaging may be performed if an infection is suspected or if the patient has concerns or problematic symptoms.
After one year, your doctor may ask you to come in annually or every other year to see how your implant is faring and if there are any signs of wear.
What is Your Doctor Looking For?
Early in your recovery, your doctor may be more focused on checking for sides of injection, blood clots, and ensuring the wound is healing properly. Later appointments generally focus more on the mobility and strength of your knee.
Though bleeding may be common at first, it should not last more than a few days. After the 4th day, your incision should be dry with no drainage. During the early appointments, your sutures or staples will be removed. Follow your doctor’s instructions on wound cleaning and dressing the area.
Immediately after your surgery, you may need several medications to help you manage pain and reduce your risk of infection. However, as you recover your doctor will ask about your pain levels and adjust your medication accordingly.
Remember to inform your doctor of any new medications or health changes during these appointments as some treatments may negatively affect your medication and recovery plan.
You may think during your recovery that you should rest your knee, but your doctors will encourage you to keep your knee active and moving to prevent stiffness in the joint. In later appointments, Dr. Dewan will want to check your mobility by seeing how well you navigate daily tasks such as your gait and ability to walk without support.
Depending on how well you are recovering, it may take several weeks before you are able to resume light activities such as driving or returning to a sedentary desk job. Strength training in physical therapy typically begins around the 4th week following surgery, but it may be some time again before you are able to hit the gym. Dr. Dewan will monitor your new knee’s strength during the follow-up appointments and update you on which activities you can resume as you recover.
Possible Complications During Recovery
If you suspect there is a problem with your joint replacement, contact your doctor immediately. There are a variety of complications that may occur during your recovery. Though some of these symptoms may be normal in the beginning, if you experience them for an extended period or notice they are worsening, contact your provider. Signs can include:
- Drainage from the incision after several days
- Intense pain
- Redness around incision
Follow-up care is a vital part of your knee replacement surgery. To ensure you get the most of your knee implant, we encourage you to keep to our schedule and attend these appointments. Allow this time to be an open discussion about your knee and how you feel during the recovery process, Dr. Dewan and his team are here for you every step of the way. For more information on follow-up plans or to schedule a consultation, contact our office today.