The road to full knee replacement recovery can feel long and daunting at times. And while giving your knee the proper time to heal is probably the most important factor of recovery, there are a number of things you can do to get yourself back to normal life, work, and play as soon as possible while strengthening your knee all along the way. Here are a few such tips that will get you closer to your end goal.
1. Keep the Knee Braced and Straight
During your 3 or 4-day hospital stay do your best, as often as possible, to keep your knee close to straight. Bending the knee will put added pressure onto the joint and can cause complications. So stretch that leg out flat when in bed, in a wheelchair, when using crutches, and really whenever you can.
After you return home, follow the recommendations of your doctor regarding the motion of the joint, but when possible, wear a brace on the knee. This will help the knee stay secure and limit the risk of injury, irritation, etc. These types of precautionary actions can feel like setbacks early on when all you want to do is get back to normal life. But, all the time you put in here, in the early stages, will mean better results in your knee replacement recovery
2. Exercise often and well
While overstraining your knee in the early stages of recovery could be a major setback, the proper physician approved and recommended exercise will help strengthen your joint, increase your mobility, and even alleviate pain. Early on, those exercises may look like slowly bending the joint and straightening it back out in one controlled movement, or simply walking gently with assistance.
As you continue to build strength though, things like water exercising, resistance bands, and even cycling can get your knee feeling back to 100% in no time. Remember to always follow the recommendations of your physician and physical therapists throughout your knee replacement recovery.
3. Always Track Your Progress
The road to recovery is not just a physical one. How you think and feel about your rehabilitation will have a big impact on how your body heals and how quickly you are able to bounce back. Unfortunately, a lack of remarkable progress can often lead to depression for many patients, which not only kills your motivation for exercise, but can also lead to problems with drug dependency, anxiety, and other negative side-effects.
One simple way to recognize progress, track milestones, and set goals for yourself is to keep a daily progress record. This will allow you to focus on your journey one step at a time, instead of getting caught up in the long road ahead. It will also help you remember how far you’ve come. And by avoiding the hardships of post-op mental illness, you will have a much smoother road to full recovery.
4. Never Miss a Physical Therapy Session
Physical therapy should be at the center of your rehabilitation, helping you build back the strength and mobility of your replaced joint. Your therapists will help you move forward into new and exciting challenges within a safe environment. Here, they can monitor your progress and limits, while also providing you with the necessary equipment and resources.
The road to recovery is a winding one and things change often, so neglecting physical therapy sessions can quickly lead to unaddressed problems and setbacks on your journey. Overall, your therapists will always know exactly what you need to get back to normal, so do your best to follow their instructions, communicate any problems you might have, and meet with them whenever you are scheduled for a session.
For More Information
If you think you’re a candidate for knee replacement, then you should talk to an orthopedic surgeon. They can evaluate your condition and help you determine when the ideal time to have the procedure would be. At South Shore Orthopedics, our team includes board-certified orthopedic surgeons specializing in joint replacement. To find out if you could benefit from a joint replacement procedure, call us at (781) 337-5555 to make an appointment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSO’s priority is keeping our patients and staff healthy and safe. Our office continues to operate on a daily basis Monday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm and we have implemented CDC recommended procedures regarding temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings.