Getting Back on Track: Steps for a Faster Recovery After Knee Surgery

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Recuperating after knee surgery can feel like a lifetime of waiting. You can’t wait to go back to walking, running, jumping, even playing your old sports. But then, taking the necessary precautions and following your doctor’s orders are the best ways to ensure you support the healing process.

Know that the recommendations your doctor will give you will depend on your case. However, the following are what many post-surgical patients are expected to do to speed up the recovery process following knee surgery.

Keep Your Knee Straight

Many people find keeping their knees straight for long periods of time to be uncomfortable. Knees are meant to be bent and used. But since you just got out of surgery, you must keep your knee joint straight.

More often than not, doctors will give patients a knee brace to keep the knee straight. This also helps prevent any unnecessary strain on your recently operated knee. One of the common types of knee braces given is the universal hinged brace.

Your knee brace helps by stabilizing your knee. It also helps protect your knee after the surgery. Wear this according to your doctor’s order.

Make sure you minimize the amount of time you spend on your feet. Use a clutch if you must walk. When using a wheelchair or while lying down, be sure to keep your knees straight out in front.

Manage Symptoms as Prescribed

Pain and swelling are natural after the surgery. Your doctor will prescribe medications to minimize both the pain and swelling. These will help ease the discomfort you feel while recovering.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) claims that some management medications following a knee surgery are as follows.

  • Acetaminophen
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroids

Your doctor will also likely recommend that you elevate your knees to keep the swelling down and reduce the risk of complications. Icing the area can also help with the swelling. If the pain persists and the swelling does not go down, be sure to call your doctor.

Exercise According to Your Doctor’s Orders

While your doctor may recommend that you get ample rest to heal, this is not to say that you should skimp on exercise. Doctors would list the kind of activities you can safely engage in without putting unnecessary strain on your knees. This will depend on the following factors.

  • Your overall physical health
  • The kind of knee surgery you underwent
  • The amount of time that passed after the surgical procedure

If your doctor did not tell you to exercise just yet, avoid doing so without consulting them. The last thing you want is to distress the surgical site or, worse, re-injure your knee just a few weeks or months after the procedure. Some exercises most doctors would recommend their patients are walking, swimming, leg presses, bending and extending, and cycling.

Follow Prescribed Physical Therapy Treatment Plan

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Physical Therapy (PT) will be a part of your recovery process. Your doctor will tell you when exactly you can start physical therapy. You have the option to go to a rehabilitation center for your PT sessions or have a therapist visit in your home.

Rehab will help with your recovery by:

  • Reducing pain
  • Strengthening your muscles
  • Improve your range of motion
  • Improve your movement
  • Help you walk again

Welcome Lifestyle Changes if Necessary

You are always at risk of additional knee problems if you continue living your old lifestyle. Since you are still recovering, it helps to change your lifestyle into a healthier one. You may also need to switch to activities and sports that will have a lower impact on your knee until you recover completely.

You could be an avid runner before. Instead, take it easy and opt to walk around the neighborhood instead. You could be an avid runner before. Instead, take it easy and go for low-impact activities recommended by your doctor.

Know What to Avoid

Knowing what to avoid is another way to ensure you don’t reinjure your knee after the operation and while recuperating. The following list some things you need to avoid doing for a faster recovery.

  • Putting a pillow under your knee while sleeping
  • Kneeling on the operated knee
  • Sitting cross-legged
  • Twisting your knee when facing another direction
  • Scheduling other procedures without consulting your doctor
  • Driving without asking your doctor
  • Using the wrong knee brace

It will take time before you can go back to your regular activities. Trying to bypass the process by resuming old activities will not help you in any way. Try to keep these tips in mind if you want to recover faster.

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