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Knee Replacement Overview


Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery
Patients suffering from bone diseases walk with the help of nurses and U.S. volunteers after undergoing joint replacement surgeries at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University.
Patients suffering from bone diseases walk with the help of nurses and U.S. volunteers after undergoing joint replacement surgeries at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University.
China Photos/Getty Images

­After the surgery is complete, the patient is taken to a recovery room until the anesthesia begins wearing off. Once awake, the patient will be transferred to a hospital room. As soon as the patient has shaken off the effects of anesthesia, a physical therapist will begin working with the patient to strengthen and heal the leg. It's important to begin moving the foot and ankle as soon as possible to keep swelling and clotting at bay. The patient may have their leg attached to a device known as a continuous passive motion machine that moves the leg on its own to keep it from growing stiff.

Within a day, the patient will try standing (under supervision), and by the next day may be taking steps with the aid of a walker. Blood clotting is a risk after surgery, so the patient may be prescribed blood thinners or be fitted with special support hose or compression boots, which inflate around the leg. Most total knee replacements require the patient to remain under hospital care from three days to a week, but this may be adjusted depending on individual rates of recovery. By the time the patient leaves, the bandages and sutures will likely be removed.

Over the next several weeks, the patient should be careful, get lots of rest and faithfully perform all exercises as instructed for joint rehabilitation. About a month and a half after surgery, the patient can expect to be walking around with a cane, and in another couple of weeks, driving will be possible again.

Patients can resume sexual activities whenever they feel able, but are advised to limit positions for a while to those covered on the copyright page of the Kama Sutra.