Recovering from joint replacement surgery takes time. The post-operative phase focuses on helping you regain motion, strength, and function in your joint and body as a whole.
Planning ahead and understanding the process is key to minimizing stress and optimizing your outcome. Your OrthoEdge surgeon expects you to be an equal partner in your recovery—this means making a commitment to follow directions, taking special precautions to avoid falls and injuries, and communicating with the physician and his staff if you feel something isn’t right. Participating in physical therapy is especially important; how well you regain strength and motion in your new joint is, in part, dependent upon how well you follow your exercise regimen. This part of your rehabilitation is something that you must do for yourself; no one else can do it for you.
Activity: Exercise is a critical component of post-op recovery, particularly during the first few weeks after surgery. You should be able to resume most normal activities of daily living within three to six weeks following surgery. Some pain with activity and at night is common for several weeks after surgery. Your activity agenda should include both your assigned therapy exercises, and a graduated movement program to slowly increase your mobility, initially in your home and later outside.
Most individuals resume driving about four to six weeks after surgery. For knee patients specifically, driving usually begins when your knee bends sufficiently so you can enter and sit comfortably in your car and when your muscle control provides adequate reaction time for braking and acceleration. At your request, the OrthoEdge staff will be happy to assist you in preparing the paperwork you’ll need to request a temporary Disabled Parking Permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The first six weeks after major joint replacement surgery is the most crucial time for healing and recovery. It is generally recommended that strenuous physical activity be limited during this time. The Recovery Guide you receive during your Prehab classes will have extensive information about which activities are, or are not, appropriate during this period; it also provides guidance about caring for your incision, watching for signs of infection or blood clots, and managing swelling. If you have any questions about your post-op responsibilities, it’s important that you discuss them with the doctor.
Keep your eyes on the prize. The demands of joint replacement surgery can seem daunting, but if you make the effort to understand the risks involved, they can be minimized to make your joint replacement even more successful. Keep in mind the tremendous benefits of successful joint replacement: the great reduction or elimination of pain, the significant reduction or elimination of the need for medications and their unwelcome side effects, the potential for improving your fitness, health and lifestyle, and the ability to take part in activities that, until now, have been impossible.