Just had a joint replacement – You need to read this!

What should I be doing after I’ve had my total knee replacement? 

So you’ve just had your total knee replacement, you’re in a lot of pain and your knee is so swollen it feels like you’ve got lead trousers on! What can you do to get the best movement possible out of your new knee and manage that tightness and swelling? 

Here are 5 key things to do to ensure that you get the most out of your surgery in the initial stages: 

  1. ICE, ICE, ICE – ice your knee for 20 minutes at a time at least 3 times per day. This helps to reduce the swelling and also helps calm down that angry hot pain. Frozen peas are your best friend.
  2. ELEVATION– i don’t just mean sitting in a chair and placing your leg on a foot stool, i mean lying flat on your back with your feet ABOVE heart level. The only way that swelling is going to go anywhere is if you give it a way of being able to drain back to where it came from (your lymph nodes)
  3. REST your leg straight out in front of you with your heel resting on a rolled up towel- this will be uncomfortable so you may only manage a few minutes at a time. This will help you to achieve a knee that will fully straighten, you don’t want to be walking around with a bent knee forever!
  4. USE A TOWEL to assist in bending your knee- sit up on your bed with your legs out in front, hook the towel round the foot of your operated leg and pull either end of the towel to help you to bend your knee. It is going to feel like a vice is gripping your knee, it will feel extremely tight and uncomfortable, however it is really important to get your knee moving before scar tissue can form and prevent you from doing so. You don’t want a permanently stiff knee!
  5. WALK LITTLE AND OFTEN– every so often get up and have a little walk about for a few minutes with your sticks/crutches. You can start by doing laps of your house then little 5 minute walks down the block. You can gradually increase this outdoors as long as pain and swelling is under control.

In summary; the last thing you should do is nothing! Take everything day by day and keep doing these small steps. Remember that it is a major surgery and it will take time for things to be 100% back to normal, but as long as you are doing these things and listening to your physio you will reap the benefits!