After you've had knee replacement surgery, you'll be keen to get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Here are some top tips that you can use to speed your recovery.
Your medical team will try to have you up on your feet and standing a day or so after your operation. This is important to prevent your operation site from swelling. Initially, you will be given a walking frame or crutches, but after this you'll need to have a walking stick to help you get around while your new knee heals. It's a good idea to buy yourself a nice stick before you go into hospital so that you have it on hand when you come home.
You will be unsteady on your feet for a while after your operation, and this can present problems for you when you come home. If your house has stairs, try to avoid using them for a few weeks post-surgery. If possible, have someone set up a bed downstairs and ask them to bring down everything you are likely to need for washing.
If you don't have a downstairs loo, the hospital team may be able to provide you with a commode, until you can make it upstairs safely again. You may also be given a chair to use in the shower and an elevated seat for the loo, making it easier for you to get up again.
If possible, arrange for a relative or friend to come and stay with you for a week or two following your surgery so that you can have assistance with simple tasks, such as getting dressed.
You may experience a small amount of swelling following knee replacement surgery. You can help to relieve this by placing your foot on a stool to elevate your leg, keeping your foot above the height of your hip whilst you are seated. Placing an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas around the swollen area can also be helpful. Remember to place a towel between the ice and your skin to keep you comfortable.
When to seek medical attention
Keep a close eye on your wound for signs of infection, including:
- severe swelling
- weeping of clear fluid or pus around the stitches
If you notice any of these signs or if you think you may be running a temperature, contact your GP.
A dangerous post-operation complication is the formation of a blood clot or clots. Signs to be aware of include:
- hard, painful areas around your wound or in your legs
- chest pains
- difficulty breathing
If you experience any of these signs, contact your doctor as a matter of urgency; blood clots can be extremely serious if not treated quickly.
If you've had knee replacement surgery, follow the tips given above to help speed your recovery. For more advice and information, have a chat with your GP or nursing team.