Knee Surgery Rehabilitation
Dr Negus strongly believes that rehabilitation is the key to your success after your surgery.
In the early stages (1-6 week) following any orthopaedic surgery, there is swelling and stiffness of the joint involved and there is a wound to take care of.
The second stage of the recovery which can begin from 2-6 weeks, involves a tailored increase in load and volume of exercise that is aimed at getting you back to the activities that you enjoy. This will be detailed for you by Dr Negus and his physiotherapy team alongside your own physiotherapist should you have one.
The third stage of your rehabilitation is to improve beyond the level you started at. Dr Negus and his team believe that there are gains to be made even beyond one year after your operation and if you want to get even stronger and fitter to keep up with the grandkids or maintain your place in your sports team, this stage is critical.
The BASICS of the first 6 weeks after Knee Replacement Surgery
It is important to minimise your discomfort in the early weeks and this is through a combination of:
- Taking regular painkillers as prescribed
- Taking sleeping medication as most patients struggle with sleep in the first few weeks.
- Sleep in whichever position is comfortable
- Use a stick as needed.
- Whenever the leg swells, elevate it and use ice and compression
It is important to avoid putting a pillow under the knee to prevent a permanent bend at the knee.
It is inadvisable to kneel on the operated knee in the first 6 months until the wound has healed well.
In general, the surgical wounds need little care from the patient. The sutures are dissolvable and Dr Negus uses a surgical glue to seal the wound against leakage. The wound needs to be kept dry for 2 weeks after the operation.
In occasional patients, the wound may become red and inflamed or may even ooze. This may require a short course of oral antibiotics and although this can be prescribed by your GP, if this is to happen, please contact Dr Negus in his rooms immediately.
Hydrotherapy can be of great benefit to many patients and although surgeons differ on timings, Dr Negus is happy for hydrotherapy to start at 4 weeks from surgery as long as –
- The wound is clean and dry
- The wound is reviewed by the rehabilitation physician prior to starting hydrotherapy
If you have any concerns at all, please contact Dr Negus in his rooms.
Warm and Swollen Knee
It is completely normal for the operated knee to be swollen and feel warm for months after surgery. The swelling may also be in the calf or thigh. The level of swelling can go up and down depending on your level of activity.
Dr Negus will ensure you are discharged from hospital on the appropriate strength pain killers although most patients only need Panadeine or Panadol. If stronger medications are needed after the hospital prescribed medications have been taken, you will need to see your GP. Dr Negus does not prescribe narcotics (ie: Endone).
Dr Negus recommends that you limit your activities in the first 3 months to:
- Walking with support from a stick or crutches
- Gentle swimming in the shallow end (once the wound has been cleared)
Dr Negus advises against the following activities for at least 3 months:
- Social tennis
High impact sports such as road running should be discussed before the procedure as they will impact on the lifespan of the prosthesis.
Activities that put the knee in extreme positions such as yoga are not advised after hip replacement
You can have sex whenever you feel ready after the surgery.
You are not allowed to drive in the first 6 weeks following knee replacement as stated by the roads and traffic authority.
As you approach the 6-week time point, you must work out if you are safe to control the pedals such that you could perform an emergency stop if a pedestrian ran in front of your vehicle. If you feel that you couldn’t react quickly enough then wait a little longer.
It is usually safe to take a short flight a week after surgery as long as you do not have blood clots in the leg.
It is not advised to take a long-haul flight in the first 3 months after surgery as there is an increased risk of DVT.
If flights do need to be taken, it is advised that you wear TED stockings and mobilise during the flight as much as possible. Act on the advice of the airlines for in flight health including – Stay hydrated, limit alcohol, perform ankle exercises and elevate your legs as much as possible when seated.
Please discuss any travel plans this with Dr Negus prior to the surgery.
It is critical that once you have had a joint replacement, you are vigilant to any infections anywhere on the body, even years after the surgery.
Pay particular attention to tooth decay, dental abscesses and mouth infections.
Any infection can travel via the bloodstream to the knee joint and infect the metalwork resulting in further operations and high strength antibiotics in hospital.
Please tell your dentist you have had a knee replacement before any dental work and give them a copy of the current advice from the Arthroplasty Society of Australia which outlines recommendations for mouth care after joint replacement.