After knee surgery, you’ll likely encounter challenges and pain on your path to recovery. While it may seem difficult, remember that what happens after your surgery is just as important as the surgery itself.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you recover:
- DO take rehabilitation seriously
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after surgery. This includes performing all exercises prescribed by your physical therapist – even if it’s uncomfortable. While you may experience some pain and frustration, stay positive and stick with it! The end result will be worth the effort. Experts say 50 percent of a positive outcome depends on the patient’s willingness to work hard in physical therapy and rehab. To help your knee heal properly, take your prescribed medications and get plenty of sleep.
- DO use ice and heat
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, swelling after knee surgery can last for three to six months. Ice packs are recommended to reduce inflammation and pain. Use three to four times a day for about 10-20 minutes during the first few days. After the initial swelling has gone down, alternate between ice and heat to relax the muscles and ease stiffness. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if ice doesn’t help, or if you want to try longer periods of ice or heat.
- DO strive to be your healthiest self
Keep your body healthy to encourage faster healing. If you smoke, make an effort to cut back or stop. Smoking shrinks your blood vessels, which slows the healing process. Avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking a blood thinner or narcotic pain medications. Keep your weight down, the extra pounds put greater pressure on your knee and can slow your recovery. Strengthen the muscles in your legs to improve overall blood flow. Engage in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or peddling a stationary bike once your doctor approves it.
- DON’T put unnecessary stress on your knee
Avoid lifting heavy objects. Turn your entire body and avoid twisting your knee when you move to face a different direction. Be mindful of your form when you bend down, kneel and sit. Review these movements with your physical therapist so they can help improve your form.
- 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 appreciate the accomplishments you make along the way.
If you experience problems during recovery, call your doctor immediately for proper healing and to prevent further health issues.