Knee surgery is undeniably a major operation, but there are a number of things you can do to help speed up your recovery process and avoid any complications.
Consider the alternatives
As with any major surgery, it does take time to properly recover from knee surgery, so it is always advised to consider the alternatives. Weight loss can take the pressure off the knee joint, and although it is never easy, it is a good way to improve your health generally. You can also try low impact exercise to keep the joint moving and prevent it ceasing up. This could be anything from swimming to cycling to Pilates.
If you have tried these suggestions without success, there are still other options available to you before considering surgery. You can take painkillers and wear an elastic support around the knee. If your knee joint is simply not improving you could try steroid injections, when recommended by your doctor, to reduce pain and stiffness. Alternatively, you could consider partial knee replacement, as unicompartmental knee replacement surgery is less intrusive and requires less recovery time.
If none of these solutions are working for you and you do have to opt for surgery, there are a number of ways you can help to speed up the recovery process.
In the first couple of weeks
After knee surgery, you will be required to stay in the hospital for up to one week and will use a walking stick for several weeks. This is a crucial period in your recovery as your body is most vulnerable. During this period you should try to keep your knee as straight as possible. You will experience pain and swelling so try to avoid kneeling, squatting or excessive use of the stairs.
After this period, you will begin to bear more weight on the leg, and it is advised that you begin exercising regularly. This should be low impact, and you should build up the time and intensity gradually. Cycling is often recommended as it is a low impact physical activity that strengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings that support the knee joint. Cycling does not place too much pressure on the torn cartilage and works to improve the flexibility of the knee joint. Start on a stationary bike in a gym and gradually build up to a moving bike.
Keep up with recommended exercises
Your doctor will recommend a number of exercises for you to complete regularly after surgery. These are vitally important as they keep the joint moving, preventing the stiffening of the joint and muscle wastage, and reducing the chance of a blood clot. It is important to keep doing these exercises even when your knee begins to recover, or you could risk a relapse. Be patient and persevere.
See a physical therapist
Your doctor might also recommend you see a physical therapist as they will be able to advise exercises for your specific case, which can be adapted as you begin to recover and have more movement in the joint. They will also advise you on how often to use ice.
Recovering from any surgery takes time so be patient. Remember that an artificial knee will not work in the same way that a normal knee. Try to avoid kneeling down and be aware that it can wear over time.