Recovering from surgery is the final and most important part of your treatment. It largely determines the overall success of the operation. For optimal results, the patient should be an active and enthusiastic participant in their own recovery process.
Here are some helpful tips to prepare you for a successful recovery after a total knee replacement:
1. Plan ahead
Set yourself up for success by making a good plan. Good habits regarding exercise and general well-being will benefit you in the long run, especially when working towards getting back to normal during your recovery. Physical preparation, or pre-habilitation, includes doing exercises to strengthen the supporting musculature, so that recovery will be easier.
Another way to plan ahead is to prepare your home for your return from surgery. This may include installing handrails in a shower or tub, preparing a ground-floor convalescence room, and organizing kitchen and bathroom for ease of access.
2. Do the work
Physical therapy after surgery is key! Your journey will begin on day one after surgery and will include daily exercises to strengthen the joint and encourage range of motion. You may be itching to get back to your favourite sports, but follow the exercise plan created for you for the best results. With proper physical therapy you may even improve your physical ability beyond your pre-surgery state!
3. Use support
It’s important to have several types of support when recovering from surgery. The first is literal physical support: using assistive devices to lessen the strain placed on your joints. Walkers, canes, and handrails installed in key locations at home will greatly facilitate your mobility as you recover. Bonus point – these devices also help in the prevention of falls, which are a common reason people require surgery in the first place.
Practical and emotional support from friends and family is also important. You will need someone to take you home from surgery and help with errands until you have recovered enough to get around by yourself. Surgery can be emotionally taxing, and having a supportive circle can bolster and encourage you during your journey.
4. Give it time
You probably want to get back to normal as soon as possible after your surgery, but recovery requires some patience. Here is how long you need to wait before engaging in certain activities:
-Work: People with desk jobs need approximately four to six weeks, while those with a little more active or manual labour should wait three months. Intensive manual labour is not advised post-surgery as it may cause the implant to wear out faster.
-Driving: If the driving leg was operated, people should wait approximately three to six weeks, or until their muscle strength and reflexes recover to previous (or improved) ability. If the other knee was operated, you can return to driving once you can comfortably get in and out of a car and are off pain medications.
-Sports: Depending on the sport, people recovering from knee surgery should wait approximately 12 weeks before returning to their normal activities. High impact sports like football, basketball, soccer, and sometimes even running, are not recommended. Other activities to explore are cycling, swimming, walking, and low-resistance weight training.
Recovery is an integral part of the surgical process. Rest assured that if you have your operation at Duval Orthopaedic Clinic, the doctor will review all these tips and more with you to ensure your total comfort with the operation and with your full convalescence.
Note: This article is intended as advice only. Always consult your doctor before making any major decisions about your health.