After knee surgery, there is no doubt you will encounter challenges and pain on the path to recovery. While it will seem difficult, and maybe even impossible at times, try to remember that what happens after your surgery is just as essential to the overall success of the procedure as the surgery itself.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you along the road to recovery:
- DO take rehabilitation seriously
When you return home after surgery, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. This includes performing all exercise prescribed by your physical therapist – even when it’s uncomfortable. While you may experience some pain and frustration, keep in mind that some experts say 50 percent of a positive outcome is dependent on the patient’s willingness to work hard in physical therapy and rehab. So try your best to stick with it! The end result will be worth the effort. Taking medications as prescribed and getting plenty of sleep are also important to help your knee heal properly.
- DO use ice and heat
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, swelling after knee surgery can last for three to six months after surgery. To help reduce inflammation and pain, it’s generally recommended you use an ice pack three to four times a day for about 10-20 minutes during the first few days after surgery. After the initial swelling has gone down, you can alternate between ice and heat to relax the muscles and ease stiffness. Speak to your doctor or physical therapist if ice doesn’t help with swelling, or if you think you might benefit for longer periods of ice or heat.
- DO strive to be your healthiest self
Keeping your body healthy will encourage faster healing after surgery. If you smoke, make an effort to cut back or stop; smoking shrinks your blood vessels, which makes the healing process slower. Avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking a blood thinner or narcotic pain medications. Keep your weight down, as extra pounds put greater pressure on your knee and can slow your recovery. And finally, strengthen the muscles in your legs and improve overall blood flow by participating in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or peddling a stationary bike once your doctor gives you the green light.
- DON’T put unnecessary stress on your knee
Avoid lifting heavy objects, and when you turn to face a different direction, make sure you turn your entire body and avoid twisting your knee. To help you be mindful of your form when you bend down, kneel and sit, it’s a good idea to review these movements with your physical therapist so that he or she can help you learn how to do them safely.
- DON’T schedule other surgical procedures while you’re recovering
Consult a physician before scheduling dental work or other surgical procedures, especially on your bladder or intestines, as these may lead to infection in your healing knee.
- DON’T give up!
Remember, all individuals and surgeries are different. People progress at different rates and heal on their own time. Be patient with yourself and give yourself praise for the accomplishments you make along the way.
If you are experiencing problems during recovery, be sure to call your doctor as soon as possible to ensure proper healing and prevent further health issues.