If your doctor recently recommended you undergo knee replacement, you may have a few questions. Dr. Dewan and his team in Sugar Land, TX, believe in providing quality care from your initial consultation to the end of rehabilitation. We understand that you may have questions about what your recovery will look like after surgery and are happy to provide some insight on this crucial stage of healing.
It is important throughout your recovery that you listen to what your body is telling you as pushing your body too far during recovery can do more harm than good. Read on to learn our answers to common knee replacement recovery questions.
How long will I need pain medication after a total knee replacement?
Pain, bruising, and inflammation are common in the initial days of your recovery. While you are under our care, we will help manage your pain with prescription pain medication. Once you are discharged and able to return home, your doctors may begin to lower the dose of your medication. As you progress in your recovery and the soft tissues around your knee begin to heal, your doctor will monitor your symptoms and signs of pain to adjust your medication accordingly. Not only does pain medication increase your comfort but can also work to reduce swelling and stiffness in the joint. Most patients report feeling little to no pain by 6 months.
It can take up to 12-18 months for your knee to fully heal.
How long does stiffness last after total knee replacement?
It is important to follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions for optimal recovery. Movement is encouraged after your surgery to help increase circulation to the area and assist in healing. Your pain medication should help in reducing swelling and stiffness around the joint. At your discharge, we will also provide a list of exercises for you to perform daily as part of physical therapy. After the 3rd week, you may no longer need a walker, crutches, or cane and should feel an increase in knee strength, mobility, and range of motion. After 3 months most patients can move their knee freely without stiffness.
In addition to physical therapy, you can also reduce stiffness in your knee joint through warm and cold compresses, gentle massages to the area, and warm soaks once the incision is healed.
How long until you can extend your knee straight after total knee replacement?
It is important after surgery that the joint continues to move to prevent the buildup of scar tissue that can limit your range of motion and movement if the knee is left in one position for too long. Some surgeons use a continuous passive motion machine (CPM) to help gently and safely move the knee after surgery, however this is no substitute for therapy and active knee engagement. Therapists will demonstrate exercises to work on knee extensions and flexions (bending) to keep the joint active. In a week following your procedure, you should be able to bend your knee to 90 degrees and fully extend it straight out, though you may experience pain and swelling.
How should I sleep after a total knee replacement?
One of the most difficult tasks after total knee replacement is finding a safe and comfortable position to sleep in.
Sleeping on your back is the best position for optimal recovery. Lie with your legs straight out and toes toward the ceiling to prevent turning your leg to the side and twisting the knee. Avoid bending your knee by placing a cushion or pillow under the length of your knee and calf. If one cushion is too low, add more so your knee has adequate support. Your doctor may recommend using a foam wedge until you are cleared to sleep in another position
How much weight can you lift after a total knee replacement?
After your surgery, we will provide you with specific weight-bearing guidelines to follow during your recovery. How much pressure your new knee can handle will depend on a variety of factors such as the type of surgery performed, type of implants used, and condition of the patient. Light exercise is often encouraged during recovery to help strengthen the muscles, manage weight, and relieve stress. During your recovery, we recommend patients avoid lifting anything above 40 pounds for at least 10-12 weeks. Your doctor will inform you when you are ready to begin lifting heavy objects or returning to cardio workouts based on your recovery and results during follow-up appointments.
After knee replacement surgery, we know you have questions about what recovery will look like and we are here to answer them. During your consultation, feel free to bring up any questions and concerns you may have about your procedure. Dr. Dewan and his staff are proud to serve members of the Sugar Land community and beyond for all their orthopedic needs. For more information about recovering from total knee replacement or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Dewan today at (281) 690-4678.