Knee surgery, whether it's reconstruction or a full replacement, has a high level of success if you follow the steps to recovery properly. Trying to rush healing is the worst thing you can do, as this may compromise the repairs made and put you back where you were prior to surgery. The following tips can help you navigate your recovery successfully.
Tip #1: Stay on your game prior to surgery
Pain and decreased motion often leads people to "let themselves go." The decrease in physical movement and exercise, sometimes coupled with weight gain, actually makes recovery more difficult. Ask your orthopedist to recommend a physical therapist. The therapist can teach you some low impact exercises to help keep the surrounding muscles and ligaments in your legs in good condition. Going into surgery relatively fit will help your recovery afterward.
Tip #2: Prepare your space
The first few days after surgery will likely see you tired, so it's best to have your home prepared to ease your way. Make sure there is no clutter on the floor and that passages are wide and free of obstructions. Depending on the extent of your surgery, age, relative fitness, and a host of other things, you will likely be using crutches or a wheel chair for the first few days so you will need plenty of room to move. You don't want to injure your knee due to a messy house.
Tip #3: Grab an ice pack
Icing your knee the first few days following surgery helps reduce swelling and pain, which can help speed recovery. Prepare some ice packs ahead of time so that you can grab a few a day to place on your knee. Frozen gel packs, such as those used in lunchboxes, are a simple alternative to ice. Also, keep the leg elevated as much as possible to prevent swelling.
Tip #4: Schedule rehab therapy
Most people need to use crutches or a cane for several weeks and up to a couple of months following surgery. This doesn't mean you can't be active, though. Meet with a rehab therapist as soon as your surgeon gives you clearance. They will help you move through exercises to increase your range of motion and endurance as the knee heals. You may also be advised to begin a walking regimen and to slowly increase your distance, even while you are still using a walking aid. The key is to avoid over-doing it – pay attention to what your therapist advises and don't overwork the knee unless you get a doctor go-ahead.
For more help in planning your recovery from knee surgery, contact an orthopedic surgeon like Joseph P. Spott, DO in your area.