Knee replacement surgery (or knee arthroplasty) is done to treat osteoarthritis or knee injury to alleviate pain and let the patient live an active life again. Above 90% of people with a knee replacement have replaced their knees to see a significant improvement in pain and ability to move.
However, this improvement doesn’t happen immediately, as it takes some time. Usually, it takes around three to four months for many patients to get back to their routine activities. Sometimes it may even take them six months or up to a year to regain full strength or recover fully.
Like any other recovery after surgical treatment, even the recovery after knee replacement surgery in India takes time. Therefore, it is essential to build realistic expectations. Here, in this article, we’ll discuss all the things that patients must expect during every stage of surgery.
Deciding for Surgery
There are various reasons why a patient decides to undergo knee replacement surgery. Some of these reasons are:
- Your knee remains swollen frequently
- There is severe stiffness or pain that makes it difficult to walk, get out of a couch/chair or climb stairs
- Your knee has many other defects
- The knee pain is troublesome even when you’re resting or trying to sleep
- Medication and physical therapy doesn’t seem to help
Expectations during Surgery
At the time of the knee replacement surgery, a surgeon will cut off your damaged bone and cartilage from the kneecap, as well as the neighbouring area, including shinbone and thighbone. After that, they put artificial joints (made from high-grade plastics, metal alloys or both) into the area that’s removed. This is how the new knee replaces the old one. However, it may take you some time to be habitual of this artificial knee replacement.
Recovery in the Hospital
After the surgery, you are likely to be hospitalized for around four or more days based on certain factors like:
- Overall health
- Whether or not you’ve someone to take care of you at home
- How well are you able to do exercises
A physical therapist is likely to help you properly walk and exercise with some aid, such as a walker or cane. If a patient doesn’t follow the recommended exercise routine during and after their hospital stay, they may not see effective results or regain mobility the way that they hoped.
The doctor will typically discharge you from a hospital only when you:
- Can manage the pain
- Can quickly get in/out of bed on your own
- Can use the bathroom yourself
- Can walk with a walker, crutches, cane or other devices
- Can climb a few stairs
- Can do suggested exercises without any assistance
- Know the steps to avoid injury
- Know how to determine the signs of any complications during recovery and when to contact a doctor
- Are aware of all the measures to promote healing
In case you are unable to perform any of these mentioned points, you might have to spend some more time in the rehabilitation centre. While it is normal to feel pain after surgery, your doctor can guide you to manage the pain.
Recovery at Home
Once you go home, you require assistance from a healthcare worker or family member for some time. You even need to take some medication to alleviate pain.
At home, you need to:
- Try walking with a cane or without a device within two to three weeks
- Shower after 5 to 7 days
- Return to driving after 4 to 6 weeks, as per doctor’s recommendation
- Return to a task that needs physical assistance in three months
- Return to a sedentary job within 4 to 6 weeks
- Try travelling after 4 to 6 weeks to reduce the risk of a blood clot
- Bathing after 4 to 6 weeks, when it’s safe to wash the wound
Many people find it easy to return to their routine activities in some weeks. If they follow the doctor’s recommendations, they are likely to become active quickly. However, you must not expect things to get normal at once. In the first year after knee replacement surgery, you will likely regain flexibility and strength in your knee.
Provided you follow a proper exercise programme to stay active, you will likely see remarkable improvements in mobility and strength.
There is a high rate of knee replacement surgery; however, it’s crucial to have realistic expectations for recovery. Many people experience increased mobility and reduction in stiffness and pain after surgery.
As per the research, a knee replacement can also positively impact patient’s energy levels and enable them to be active soon. However, the artificial knee is not likely to work as swiftly as a natural and healthy knee.
In the long term, the implant alone cannot keep you active and mobile. To get the best results, you need to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and attend various follow-up appointments as suggested by the doctor.