Learning to live with your new knee
There are many changes you must adapt to and manage in the months and years following your surgery, and, unfortunately, your new knee doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. Recognizing potential issues and preparing for them can help boost your quality of life.
Clicking and sounds from your knee
It’s not unusual for your artificial knee to make some popping and clicking sounds when it’s in motion. This is normal, and you should not be alarmed. If you’re concerned about the sounds the device is making, check with your doctor.
After knee replacement, it’s common to experience new sensations and feelings around your knee. You may feel some skin numbness on the outer part of your knee and have a sensation of “pins and needles” around the incision. In some cases, bumps may also appear on the skin surrounding the incision. This is common and most of the time doesn’t indicate a problem. If you have reason to be concerned, don’t hesitate to confirm with your doctor.
You may experience some weight gain after surgery. One study found that 66 percent of knee replacement patients gained weight — the average gain was 14 pounds within two years after surgery. You can combat this by staying active and adhering to a healthy diet. It’s important to do your best to avoid putting on weight because the extra pounds place unnecessary strain on your implant.
Warmth around the knee
It’s normal to experience some swelling and warmth in your new knee. Some describe this as a feeling of “hotness.” This usually subsides over a period of several months. However, some patients report feeling mild warmth years later, particularly after they exercise. Icing may help reduce these sensations.
Weak or sore leg muscles
You may experience soreness and weakness in your leg following surgery. Your muscles and joints need time to strengthen — especially if muscles were cut during the surgical procedure. However, your commitment to strengthening key muscles, such as your quadriceps and hamstrings, greatly influences your rehab. Adhering to an exercise program can make your artificial knee as strong as that of a healthy adult of the same age.
Some bruising after surgery is normal. It disappears as the wound drains. However, if you’re taking a blood thinner, you may experience ongoing bruising. Monitor any bruising and talk to your doctor if it doesn’t go away.
Mild to moderate stiffness isn’t unusual, particularly after exercise. Your range of motion may not be the same as before the surgery. However, stiffness usually subsides over the first year. Keep moving and stretch as instructed by your physical therapist. If you experience extreme or worsening stiffness and soreness that significantly limits the motion in your knee, check with your doctor to rule out arthrofibrosis, a rare but serious condition.