Returning Home After Knee Replacement Surgery

You may wonder what happens when you return home after knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions before you are released, but here are a few things to consider as you prepare for surgery.
July 10, 2019 | 2 min read
Christa S. Plew, MBA
Editor-in-Chief

It's very important that you follow your surgeon's instructions when you return home after surgery as they will provide specific information for your condition.  While individual rehabilitation recommendations may vary, here are some additional ideas that may make life a little easier once home. Please discuss these with your surgeon before you’re discharged from the hospital.

  • If using a walker or crutches to assist with walking, ask your doctor how much weight you can put on your recovering leg.
  • Use both arms to get in and out of chairs.
  • Avoid low or overstuffed furniture. To increase your comfort, use a cushion or pillow to raise your body while seated.
  • An elevated toilet seat may reduce stress to your knee as you sit and stand.
  • A shelf placed in the shower at chest height may help you avoid bending to retrieve items while showering.
  • A bathtub seat or bench allows you to sit while bathing for increased safety and comfort.
  • A long-handled bath sponge can be used to reach lower legs. Women can also purchase razor extenders for shaving their legs.
  • Avoid sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner. Use long-handled feather dusters for dusting high and low items. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to do these activities.
  • You may ride in a car, but you must follow your doctor's instructions for how to get in and out of the vehicle. You can raise the height of the car seat with pillows to protect your knees as well. Your doctor will talk with you about when you can drive, typically within four to six weeks after surgery. If you have a car with manual transmission, talk with your doctor about driving limitations. Make sure you can use the brake without discomfort before you attempt to drive in traffic.

A few general thoughts…

  • Remember that you may tire more easily than usual. You may want to plan a rest period of 30 to 60 minutes mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Constipation is a common problem following surgery. This is usually due to limited activity and pain medications. Discuss your diet with your doctor. It may include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as, eight full glasses of liquid each day.
  • Your doctor will likely give you one or more prescriptions. Please follow your doctor's instructions concerning these medications. 
  • Some swelling around the incision is normal. You'll find it more comfortable to wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the incision. Ask your doctor or other qualified health professional about appropriate wound care.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you apply ice to your knee to help decrease pain. A two-pound bag of frozen peas or other small vegetables works surprisingly well as an ice pack. Make sure you follow your doctor's instructions about how long (and at what intervals) to use ice.
  • Your doctor will likely give you a list of exercises to do once you're home. Be certain to follow your doctor's instructions.
  • You will likely need to avoid sports after surgery. Your doctor will discuss these restrictions with you.

As with many surgeries, knee replacement surgery comes with some risks and possible complications. For more information, click here.

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