Approximately 966,000 Americans underwent knee replacement surgery in 2017. No matter what the reason for the knee replacement surgery, the proper aftercare will ensure you are able to get back to work and start enjoying your life again. In addition to following your surgeon’s orders, it is important to avoid these common knee replacement post-surgical mistakes.
1. Improper Care of the Incision
Keep your incision clean and dry. Do not submerge it under water, until your surgeon instructs you to. Leave the post-surgical dressing on your incision until your doctor orders you to remove it. The doctor may have you leave the dressing on until your first post-surgical appointment.
Be sure to maintain your drain if the surgeon utilized one in your procedure. Pay attention to the drain to ensure it doesn’t come lose. Clean the drain site daily, or as directed by your physician. Wash your hands before handling and emptying the drain and collection bulb or cleaning the spot where the drain was inserted. Follow your doctor’s orders concerning how often to empty your drain and when to have the drain removed.
Ice your knee several times a day, or as directed by your physician. Wrap an ice pack with a towel to ensure the incision doesn’t get wet.
2. Skipping Physical Therapy
Recovering from knee replacement can be painful. While it is vital to get plenty of rest — which helps the body heal faster — it is equally as important to take physical therapy very seriously. Depending on the extent of your surgery, your age, and mobility, your doctor may recommend waiting several weeks to start physical therapy or to visit your physical therapist several times a week.
Never skip your appointment or think that you can perform physical therapy on your own with the assistance of the internet. Your physical therapist is a trained professional who will not only help you regain strength, mobility, and flexibility, your therapist will also monitor your progress to determine which exercises will be the most beneficial.
In addition to your appointments, physical therapists will give you homework. For example, this might be to take walks with the assistance of your walker or cane or to perform stretches and strengthening exercises. You may experience discomfort at the physical therapist’s office and while doing your homework, but it is vital to work through the pain, as this will help you regain your strength much quicker.
3. Not Calling the Doctor When There Are Signs of Trouble
If you follow the doctor’s orders, take your medications as prescribed, and take your physical therapy seriously, you should recover smoothly from your knee replacement surgery. However, there is still a small chance of a post-operative complications such as the replacement knee slipping or shifting. This can be very painful and if you believe your knee replacement has shifted, call your doctor right away.
Here are a few other symptoms and issues that require immediate medical attention:
- Severe swelling or redness at the incision site
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Chest pains
- Loss of consciousness
- Increased pain
Watch for symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that occurs in the deeper veins of your arms or legs. The signs of DVT include:
- Severe pain
- Redness below the knee
- Leg cramps
- Cramp and pain the feet when the leg is bent
- Skin discolorations
A DVT is a serious issue that could lead to more serious complications, such as a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lungs.
From ignoring the symptoms of a post-operative issue or infection to undervaluing the important of physical therapy, there are several mistakes to avoid after undergoing a knee replacement procedure. Contact the professionals at The Noyes Knee Institute with any other questions or concerns.