Why The Few Days Following Your Total Knee Surgery Are So Critical

You're getting ready for major surgery to have one of your knees replaced by an artificial joint. Joint replacement has been done successfully for a number of years and has helped people to walk comfortably without pain. Next to the surgery itself, the first few days after the surgery are important for a healthy recovery. Here is what you can expect between the time you get out of surgery and the day that you're released from the hospital.

Many Things Happen in the Surgery From Which Your Knee Must Recover

The knee is a complex joint and this surgery affects bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. All of the structures in your knee must heal properly for the surgery to be a success.

The lower end of your femur, the upper leg bone, is shaped to receive a metal implant that has a rounded metal surface, similar to the original bone. The upper end of your tibia, the lower leg bone, is shaped to receive another metal implant that has a concave metal or plastic plate that matches the upper implant. Your patella, or kneecap, is shaped to receive a small metal component which joins up with the metal in your femur.

To make these changes, muscles and tendons must be cut or removed and reattached. The procedure stresses the muscles and disrupts the blood supply in the knee. Once the procedure is completed, and before the incision is closed, your knee is flushed with an anti-biotic solution and a tube inserted to allow fluids that build up in your knee to drain out.

The Next Few Days After Surgery

You will be helped out of bed a few hours after surgery and allowed to sit in a chair and even take a couple of steps. Healing progresses better if you have a little activity soon rather than staying on bed rest. During this time, your orthopedic doctor and nurses are most concerned about three things that will determine how long you'll stay in the hospital:

Infection - Every surgery has a risk of infection so many cautions are taken to prevent that in your knee. You'll be on antibiotics for a couple of days. The drain in your knee will be checked frequently for signs of infectious drainage. Inflammation, redness and pain in your knee are signs of a possible infection.

Pain control - You may have some pain after surgery and your doctor will make sure that you are comfortable when you sleep and during physical therapy. Some mild pain is normal but an elevated level can mean infection or something in the knee was overworked during physical therapy.

Physical therapy - You'll be on an aggressive schedule of physical therapy, including working with a therapist and doing exercises on your own. All of your physical therapy strengthens those tissues in your knee, prevents the muscles from contracting and improves the circulation. You will start out by walking a few steps on a level surface, then move on to walking on inclines and stairs. The staff and physical therapists will monitor you so you are doing as much as you can without overworking your knee.

Getting Ready For Discharge

All of the work done in the few days after surgery leads up to sending you home for the remainder of your recovery. There must be no signs of infection in your knee, your pain must be gone or manageable with low doses of pain medication, and your knee must show normal signs of flexibility and stability.

You'll continue to do physical therapy at home in the form of walking and knee exercises. You and the hospital staff will work hard during those days after surgery to make sure that the rest of your recovery is a success and your new knee is functioning well. To learn moer, contact a company like Richmond Orthopedic Associate Inc. with any questions you have.