knee joint replacement

Knee Joint Replacement F.A.Q.

In News by Royce Bowman, PT, Director

Welcome to our knee joint replacement F.A.Q.

If you’re considering a knee joint replacement, you may be wondering what happens after surgery. To save you some time, we’ve compiled questions and answers regarding knee/hip joint replacements.

How long should you do physical therapy after a knee joint replacement?

Most orthopedic surgeons prescribe 6-10 weeks of physical therapy (PT) after a knee replacement. In order to achieve functional goals and improve gait mechanics, some patients require more PT to gain additional range of motion or strength. Depending on job requirements, you could expect to return to work within 4-6 weeks and return to driving as soon as 3 weeks. Note: you won’t be able to drive while taking pain medications.

How long does it take to recover from a double knee replacement?

It does not necessarily take twice as long to recover from having a double knee replacement compared to a single knee replacement. Usually recovery takes a little longer (about 8-10 weeks) because you do not have a strong and stable leg to stand on. But range of motion and strengthening exercises can still be implemented in the same way as a single knee replacement.

The patient may also use an assistive device (i.e. walker, cane, or crutches) for a longer period of time. Again, some people may take longer than 8-10 weeks in order to regain normal mobility and strength to perform ADLs.

Can I stay alone after total knee replacement?

Yes, many people do not have someone at home to help care for them or for transportation needs. At first, it may be difficult to care for yourself or move around your house safely. Your doctor may recommend a family member or friend stay with you during the first couple of days up to a week post-op.

Can you squat after knee replacement?

Yes. At first, it may be difficult to squat or get in and out of a chair. A common PT exercise, body squats help regain leg strength for functional movements/activities. Performing squats with proper form prevents injury.

Why does knee replacement hurt more at night?

Since knee replacement is a serious procedure, there are many knee components which are healing. In the early stages, this multiple healing causes pain.

Also, as you become more active in PT or at home, you may see a spike in discomfort at night. As you try to sleep and movement decreases, muscles and tendons tighten. Swelling can increase which leads to disturbed sleep. Using pain medication helps with night pain, as well as using a cold pack on the knee prior to sleeping. Finding ways to sleep comfortably helps your overall health and pain management.

How do you sit on the toilet after knee replacement?

Most toilets sit low which makes sitting or standing up difficult. You will learn to slide your operated leg out forward when standing up or sitting down onto the toilet or chair. This helps avoid significant movement of your weak knee. This usually is only needed right after surgery. To make sitting and standing up from the toilet easier, you can use an elevated toilet seat, grab bars, or have your walker in front of you.

What should I avoid after knee replacement?

With the proper physical therapy and home program, there are not too many restrictions following a knee replacement. A doctor usually wants you to avoid kneeling on the surgery knee (especially on a hard surface), high impact sports, twisting movements, and running.

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