What To Expect After a Total Knee Replacement | Elite Spine & Sports Care
Your knees are the largest joints in the body. It’s safe to say that these joints play an irreplaceable role in your mobility! Without healthy-functioning knees, you may struggle to do everyday activities like walking, doing yard work, playing with your kids, and prevent you from exercise. If the condition is severe enough, you may even become bedridden due to knee pain and lack of mobility. Although there are many outpatient treatments for knee pain and limited mobility such as cortisone shots and Physical Therapy, if the pain becomes debilitating enough, you may need to consider a Total Knee Replacement surgery. Because your knees are such an important part of your mobility, doctors have worked hard to perfect the Total Knee Replacement surgery. Today, patients have an average of 85% to a 90% success rate after 10 years!
However, there is much more to the Knee Replacement process than just the surgery itself. In order to fully heal and begin using your new knees, the patient must follow a course of physical therapy, pain management, and post-operation rehabilitation. You may have concerns about what to expect following a Total Knee Replacement, so we’ve put together a list of what the following days and weeks after a TKR surgery will contain and what to expect.
What Are The First Days After Total Knee Replacement Surgery Like?
On average, patients should expect to spend 3-5 days in the hospital following a total knee replacement. However, you will not be bedridden during your hospital stay! By the time you awake from your surgery, the in-patient physical therapist will be working with you using a machine called the Continuous Passive Motion machine, or CPM. This machine gently moves the leg and knee to prevent scar tissue from building and stiffness from setting in.
The day after your Total Knee Replacement surgery, you can expect to be out of the hospital bed! Although a knee replacement is an intensive surgery, it is important to keep moving and get back into the flow of being active. The in-patient physical therapist will work with you to get you sitting up, out of the hospital bed and walking with assistants such as a walker. Although it is important to become active again, it is also important to take it slow. The in-patient physical therapist will offer several in bed exercises for you to complete between sessions of walking and standing. The focus of the first few days after a Total Knee Replacement is to keep moving, regain strength and balance and begin walking on your own.
The First Couple of Weeks After Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Many patients will regain strength and the ability to walk with assistance within the first few days after surgery, while some may require additional time. Depending on your age, weight, activity levels, etc., you may be transferred to a sub-acute rehabilitation center to regain your walking ability.
The focus of the first couple of weeks following Total Knee Replacement surgery is to regain your strength, walking ability and range of motion in your knee. This is achieved using the help of Physical Therapists. Although each patient is different, and their timelines following surgery may differ, Physical Therapy will be an important and necessary aspect of healing correctly.
Many Total Knee Replacement patients are able to regain enough ability to walk with the assistance of a walker or other mobility aid within the first week. This is important as it will allow the patient to travel to and from a Physical Therapy location to begin out-patient Physical Therapy. Elite Spine & Sports Care of Fort Lee offers post-operation Physical Therapy for knee replacement patients!
Three to Six Weeks After Knee Replacement Surgery
After the first few weeks following Total Knee Replacement, regardless of your personal situation, you will be working with an outpatient Physical Therapist who specializes in Knee Replacement Post-Op Rehabilitation like Elite Spine & Sports Care of Fort Lee. By the time you reach this stage of the recovery timeline, you should be able to move with around the use of walking aids such as a walker or a cane. In your outpatient Physical Therapy, you’ll be challenged to increase the range of motion of your new knee and regain strength in your quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles.
Physical Therapy towards the end of the 3-6 week range will become much more strength focused. Your Physical Therapist will teach you a range of exercises to help regain strength and balance in your legs, gradually moving you from walking with assistance to walking and moving freely. Because of this, patients should expect to be moving around without the use of walking aids by the 6th week after surgery.
Pain and discomfort will also be minimized around the 3-6 week period after Total Knee Replacement surgery. Physical Therapy’s focus on the muscles in your legs will be a big part in the elimination of any pain or discomfort. However, it is still recommended to use ice to reduce any pain you may have and swelling.
Seven to Eight Weeks After Knee Replacement Surgery
In the 7th to 8th weeks following your Total Knee Replacement surgery, you should expect to be feeling very little pain and discomfort, increased mobility, and more confidence in walking. Rather than just strength exercises, your post-op Physical Therapist will be adding more balance and movement focused exercises to your treatments. Balance is an important step of the way to fully heal following a knee replacement surgery as it will prevent you from reinjuring yourself following the surgery. By the 8th week after surgery, you should be walking without the use of walking aids and with no discomfort!
Final Thoughts on Total Knee Replacement
Your Total Knee Replacement surgery is most likely a heavily researched and planned procedure. Your doctor may be suggesting the surgery due to knee pain or trouble walking. Luckily, the surgery has very high success rates and often leaves the patient with improved mobility and decreased pain. However, each patient is different and may require different exercises to fully recover. The Post-Op Physical Therapists at Elite Spine & Sports Care of Fort Lee understand this and will help you each step of the way. Our full Physical Therapy facility in Fort Lee can help you get back on your feet and moving better than ever before following a Total Knee Replacement surgery!