What To Expect After Having a Total Knee Replacement

What things can I do at my house to get ready for a Total Knee Replacement?Total knee replacement joint JOIImage of a Total Knee Replacement

The quick answer is the first thing to do is to pick up any loose rugs that could cause you to trip and fall.  The next thing is to make sure your shower is safe for you to use after surgery.  Install a handle to hold onto (suction cup ones work well for this and can be found most anywhere).  

Another consideration is your toilet.  Some physicians like to issue a 3 in 1 commode for you to use after surgery.  It can be adjusted to be used over your current toilet so that you don’t have to sit down so far to use it.  It can also double as a shower chair so that you can sit while showering.  These tend to be very useful most people.

If you would like to see a visual representation of what your total knee replacement may look like, please click here.

What Can I Expect as a Recovery Time After Having a Total Knee Replacement?

You will be using a walker for the first 2-3 weeks to get around.  You can transition to a cane or no supportive devices per physician orders.

A majority of people are doing well and getting back to most activities by 3 months, but it can take 6 months to a year to fully recover depending on many conditions. 

Returning to work will depend on what you do for a living.  Desk jobs could be back to work in as little as 3 weeks, but jobs that require prolonged standing or walking will require more time.  Other activities such as tennis and golf can only be determined and cleared by your physician.

When can I take a shower after a total knee replacement?

Most people can start showering right when they come home from the hospital.  Some physicians use a special bandage that will cover your entire incision and keep it dry.  

Other physicians may want you to cover your incision with plastic wrap to keep it dry. Please check with your physician about what they prefer their patients to do.

When do the staples come out?

These will stay in until you see your physician for your follow-up appointment following surgery (usual follow-up appointments range from 10-14 days post-op). They will then place steri-strips over your incision and those can stay on for another 1-2 weeks.

Do I need to wear compression stockings?

Some physicians utilize these and others don’t. Please check with your physician on what they prefer to do in regards to these.

How long do I need to take pain medications?

This is different for everyone.  There are many different levels of narcotics that your physician can utilize.  These medications can also make you constipated, so many physicians recommend taking a stool softener to avoid any problems in this area.

Will I have to take a blood thinner medication?

Some physicians utilize these drugs and others don’t.  You will have to ask your physician about their preferences.

How long will I be in the hospital after TKA?

Most people stay 2-3 days, depending on how you are feeling and progressing.

JOI Total Knee ReplacementTotal Knee Replacement

When do I start Physical Therapy after Knee Replacement?

You will begin this during your hospital stay and start walking the day after your surgery with a walker. This will continue when you go home as well. Most physicians utilize Physical Therapy at your home every day for the first 2-3 weeks. 

It is very important to get your knee moving early so it doesn’t get stiff. Transition to Outpatient Physical Therapy is dependent on many factors. This will be determined by your physician during your follow-up appointments.

When can I start driving after a total knee replacement? 

This varies for everyone, but the most important factor in this regards is whether you are taking narcotic medications. If you are, driving is not safe for you or others on the road.  

If you had your right knee done, your restriction is usually longer depending on how your strength and range of motion are progressing. An automatic transmission car makes this an easier transition a well.  

Traveling long distances shortly after your surgery is not recommended because of the risk of a blood clot forming. Please discuss all of these issues with your physician before doing.

Is ice or heat better for my knee?

Initially, ice is all that you should use on your knee to help manage pain and swelling. Heat should only be used under the guidance of your physician or physical therapist that is treating you.

Do I need to take antibiotics for dental work and other procedures following my Total Knee Surgery?

Most physicians recommend the use of antibiotics for all work following a total joint procedure.  

If you have a bacterial infection such as strep throat, antibiotics may also be used to not only treat the current infection, but to also help protect your new joint from any possible infection setting in there.  

Your physician will give you instructions on all of this information following your surgery.

How long will my Total Knee last?

This is dependent on many factors, but most Total Knee Joints can last 15 years or more. The technological advancements of these implants are constantly evolving, thus extending these time frames.

To see a JOI Doctor, call (904)JOI-2000or click the link below.  For a JOI Rehab appointment, call (904)858-7045.  

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By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC

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