Recovering in the Hospital and at Home After Knee Replacement

Knee Replacement Recovery While in the Hospital

You will normally be in the hospital for three to seven days after the knee replacement surgery. During this time, you will be working with the physical and occupational therapists to learn techniques to get out of bed safely, walk, and perform other activities of daily living. You will also learn certain positions to avoid. Your family will be able to visit with you in your room at scheduled times.
The first few days can be uncomfortable, but the appropriate pain medicines will be provided to keep you as comfortable as possible. In many cases, a machine is used that allows you to deliver your own pain medicine through your IV. If drains were placed into your joint, they are usually removed on the first or second day after the surgery. This is typically not too painful. If you have a catheter in your bladder, it is also removed at this time.
Your doctor and physical therapist will decide when you are ready to return home. Occasionally, it is necessary to continue physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility before going home.

Continuing Your Recovery at Home

When you leave the hospital to continue your knee replacement recovery at home, you will be given specific wound-care instructions and discharge instructions for activity level, medication, and any other necessary restrictions. Your healthcare provider will also let you know of any symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
Most people require a few months of physical therapy to work on knee motion, strength, and walking. Therefore, if needed, supervised exercises may continue for four to six weeks. This could require attending intensive physical therapy sessions at a rehabilitation hospital, or you may be able to arrange for a therapist to visit your home.
After this time period, your doctor and therapist will evaluate your progress and determine whether you need continued physical therapy or if you can continue these exercises on your own to maintain overall conditioning.
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