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The Knee Replacement Surgery Process

The road to restored motion

Making the decision to have surgery is a huge step in regaining your active lifestyle. This timeline will give you an overview of the preparation, surgery and recovery period. It may seem overwhelming, but patients who are properly prepared and motivated to stick with their rehabilitation program can return to their favourite activities sooner, with less pain and greater mobility.

Recovery actually begins long before your surgery. Preparing your mind, body and home ahead of time will help you cope with the challenges of rehabilitation. In the weeks before surgery:

  • Make arrangements for someone to transport you home from the hospital and to help you with household tasks until you are able to do them on your own
  • Choose a friend or family member as your primary contact to speak to the surgeon with you and to send updates to your family and friends
  • Try to stay as active as possible
  • Ask your GP or physiotherapist for pre-op exercises to strengthen your upper body (this will help when you are using crutches) and to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint
  • Ask which assistive walking device you should use during recovery (walker, crutches or cane). This will allow you to practice with it before your surgery

Walking on crutches or with a walker may be difficult in the beginning. You’ll want to prepare your home and have everything you need close at hand. Some suggestions:

  • Remove loose rugs and electrical cords from the floor
  • Install handrails in the shower or bathtub
  • Place a bench or chair in your shower
  • Use a toilet-seat riser with arms if you have a low toilet
  • Climbing stairs will be difficult, so create a living area on one floor
  • Consider buying a cordless phone for greater freedom and mobility
  • Call your GP or surgeon if you develop a fever, cold, toothache, rash, or any other illness in the week before surgery

For more information on devices and equipment that can help you in your daily life visit the Independent Living Centres Australia: www.ilcaustralia.org.au* or phone 1300 885 886

The anaesthesia team will meet with you to discuss the anaesthesia process, potential risks and possible choices. Ask them any questions you may have. Your surgery will last around 2-3 hours. After surgery, your therapy begins almost immediately. While in bed, you will be asked to move your legs and feet to aid circulation and lower your risk of blood clots.

While you are getting used to having a new knee, your physical therapist will help you to learn safe ways to get in and out of bed, in and out of a chair, and up and down stairs etc. You will begin to perform exercises to build strength and increase motion. You will be professionally guided in daily exercise, movement, personal care (using the toilet, bathing and dressing) and the use of assistive devices to help you make a full recovery as needed.

You may need to be on crutches or a walker for up to 6 weeks after your surgery to allow your knee to heal. Your physical therapist may give you a series of exercises to do at home. If you are consistent with your physical therapy, you are likely to be able to resume activities such as driving, shopping, housekeeping and sexual activity (when you feel comfortable) after six weeks or so.

All going well, you should be able to enjoy a variety of low-impact activities such as swimming and walking.

References

  1. *This website is not owned by Johnson & Johnson Medical t/a DePuy Synthes and Johnson & Johnson (NZ) Ltd, and we do not review or control the content of this website. Products discussed on this website may not be approved for use, or may be approved for different indications in your country. Before using any medical device, review all relevant Instructions for Use, Package Inserts or Summary of Product Characteristics. We do not endorse the use or promotion of unapproved products or indications. Any demonstrations of approved medical devices should be considered as information only and are not a surgical training guide.