Life After a Knee Replacement

Your knee has been causing pain and limiting your activities for too long, and you’ve been through a long line of conservative treatments — it’s time for a knee replacement

Whether your knee damage stems from an injury or arthritis, a total knee replacement can eliminate the pain, restore your mobility, and give you a fresh start. But to get the most out of your new knee, you must choose your surgical team wisely. 

You can trust our specialists at Coastal Ortho to provide the highest level of care and expertise in Southern California. Our board-certified surgeons have many years of experience and use the most advanced technology to perform knee replacements, including the Stryker Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery.

The Mako robotic system allows us to:

  • Perform your knee replacement surgery with utmost precision
  • Protect and preserve your healthy soft tissues
  • Lesson post-surgical pain and promote a faster recovery

We’d love to discuss this innovative procedure with you and determine whether you’re a good candidate. Before recommending knee replacement surgery, we always evaluate our patient’s lifestyle, current health condition, and future activity goals. 

One of the best aspects of Coastal Ortho is that we keep caring for you long after your surgery is complete. We offer physical therapy and aqua therapy to help you rehab your new knee and ensure it lasts for years to come. Here’s a look at what to expect after a knee replacement.

Preparing for knee replacement recovery

Our Coastal Ortho experts set you up for post-surgery success long before you enter the operating room. We call this our pre-habilitation program, and it involves helping you prepare your body for surgery and beyond. 

For example, you may need to quit smoking to restore healthy blood circulation and give your knee the best chance to heal well. Or, you may need to lose weight to take excess pressure off your new knee joint. Our physical therapists help you strengthen the muscles supporting your knees so they’re ready to move well into the future.

Easy does it

During the first few days and weeks following your knee replacement surgery, expect to experience some pain and stiffness. This is normal. Although we minimize the damage to your soft tissues with the Mako robot-assisted system, it’s still surgery, and your skin, muscles, and knee joint need some time to heal.

We prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable and recommend keeping your leg elevated to prevent excessive swelling. Take it easy during this initial healing phase, and enlist help with household tasks and bathing.

Get up and walk

Taking it easy doesn’t mean you should lounge on the sofa all day. Staying sedentary prolongs your recovery and increases your pain and stiffness.

In fact, we ensure you can stand and walk soon after your surgery. This promotes healthy circulation and accelerates healing. Short, slow walks around your living room are key to your rehabilitation.

Learn to love physical therapy

After knee replacement surgery, our physical therapists become your best friends. They work closely with our surgeons and know all the details of your case. They design a customized post-surgical plan that rebuilds your strength, reduces pain and inflammation, and prepares you for life with an artificial knee joint.

Your plan may include exercises that target your knee’s supporting structures, improve your balance, increase your range of motion, and ensure a proper gait. We work with you one on one and monitor your progress, adjusting your activities as needed to keep you advancing toward complete recovery.

Be patient

While physical therapy and movement are critical to recovery, doing too much too soon can set your timeline back. Everyone recovers at a different pace depending on variables like age, weight, pre-surgery physical fitness, co-existing medical conditions, genetics, and motivation. 

Most people progress significantly in the first couple of weeks, and many return to work with crutches. Most patients begin to regain strength and mobility at the six-week mark if they follow our physical therapists’ plan. By three months post-surgery, most people have nearly recovered but still experience mild achiness and stiffness. We considered most folks completely healed within six months to a year of their procedure.

Notice that each of those sentences contained the word “most.” Some people heal faster or slower — the key is to work with our physical therapists to make continual progress. 

Lifetime limitations

You can do just about anything you want to with your new knee — within reason. Most sports and hobbies are fair game after knee replacement surgery, but long-distance running may be a thing of the past. The repetitive pounding on your joints may shorten the longevity of your new knee joint.

You may also find that kneeling on hard ground is painful. You can do it if required, but we recommend using a cushion to save your new joint. 

To learn more about knee replacement surgery and what to expect afterward, call Coastal Ortho in Torrance or El Segundo, California, today, or request an appointment online any time.