Getting Back To Life after a Knee Replacement
Tue, 05/03/2011 - 11:25am | Cynthia Bauer
Does walking up a flight of stairs cause pain in your knee? Do you feel stiffness and pain even while doing simple, everyday tasks or pain in your knee while sleeping? Is your lifestyle hampered by pain, causing you to not do some of the things you love because your knee can’t handle it?
It might be time for knee replacement surgery.
It sounds scary, but with medical advances in surgery, a knee replacement can actually spur a positive change in your lifestyle that can have you free from pain. Although it’s a last resort for those who have knee problems, it can be a step in the right direction for a happy, normal life.
Between knee replacement surgery and a return to an active lifestyle lies the recovery process.
Recovering from knee replacement surgery can take anywhere from six weeks to three months, depending on the severity of the condition.
Your inpatient rehabilitation from knee replacement surgery will begin with simple standing and walking with an assistive device (i.e., a walker or crutches) and working on range of motion. The therapy team will establish a personalized rehabilitation program to help you learn balance and restore your function, while checking to make sure your surgery wound is healing properly.
Once your inpatient rehabilitation is complete (about 3-5 days), you will be given a home program to continue your progress and to ensure your knee continues to heal properly. You may receive in-home therapy for a few weeks or go directly to outpatient therapy where you will continue with range of motion and strengthening exercises and activities aimed at restoring balance and function.
It’s important that the surgeon who performed your knee replacement remain in the loop during the rehabilitation process by receiving therapy reports and monitoring your progress at follow up appointments.
Although it’s up to your doctor to set any lifestyle restrictions, most patients can return to a normal life fairly quickly. Heavy activities are not recommended, such as running long distances or playing a strenuous game of tennis on a hard court, because you don’t want to put your new knee at risk. Remember, you want to live with this new knee for a long time; it’s not wise to wear it out!
It may be your last resort after failed conservative treatment, but knee replacement surgery can restore you to a pain-free life, especially if your rehabilitation process is thorough and you take your recovery seriously.