The recovery period after total knee replacement surgery is crucial to the success of your procedure.
Hospital stays after a total knee replacement typically last one to four days. During this time, you’ll be busy resting up, taking care of your knee, and starting your physical therapy.
You won’t want to use your time in the hospital to plan all of your recovery details. Instead, it’s best to prepare your home for recovery well before surgery.
Here are seven tips to help you get ready.
When it comes to knee surgery recovery, space in your home is key to safety.
Look around your home and envision enough space for a walker to fit. You may even want to use a measuring tape to make sure there are at least 3 feet of space for you to walk through.
To make space, consider:
- moving furniture
- removing rugs
- placing electrical cords and wires out of the way
- boxing up anything you don’t need (like toys or small tables)
The time leading up to your surgery is also your opportunity to clean your home. Dusting, vacuuming, and mopping will be off-limits for a while after a knee replacement.
While you won’t be walking much right after your knee surgery, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to move around your house. Walking is an essential part of your recovery.
A loss of balance and a need for space can increase the risk of a fall. Apart from decluttering, other preventive measures include:
- installing a handrail in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet
- having a bath mat ready to prevent slipping
- using a raised toilet seat
- covering outside steps with ramps
- adding texture to slippery floors
- wearing nonskid socks
- using a walking device until you’re more stable
- installing nightlights
Due to mobility limitations, you will likely do a lot of sitting during the first few weeks after your return from the hospital.
Designate a recovery area (usually the living room) with a sturdy chair to relax in. The chair should be high enough that it is easy to sit down and get up from. It should have arms and a solid back so you don’t fall.
A recliner is a good choice because you can elevate your legs. Place a sturdy footstool in front of your chair if you don’t have a recliner. Some chairs have a device to tilt you slightly forward, making it easier to get up.
Your recovery area should also contain items within arm’s reach, in case you need them quickly.
Consider having the following items on hand near your chair:
- phone/cellphone (and charger)
- television remote
- bottles of water
Sleep is essential to surgery recovery, but you might need to make some adjustments.
Stairs can be tough to manage after knee surgery. You might consider converting a main floor space into a temporary bedroom to limit having to walk up the stairs.
Don’t plan to spend all your time in bed. Getting up and moving around is important for your recovery. Making the distinction between night and day will also help you maintain a regular sleeping pattern.
Knee surgery can make it harder to move and do everyday activities.
Consider asking a friend or loved one to stay with you during the initial recovery period, or arrange for in-home care.
Even if you live with a spouse or other family member, having an extra pair of hands available to help is always a good idea.
Arrange for assistance with:
- changing bandages
- monitoring your condition post-surgery
- getting dressed
- household chores
- cooking meals
- grocery shopping
- paying bills and other related tasks
- navigating stairs
- taking care of dependent people in your household, such as children, a spouse, or older parents
The more help you have, the quicker and more successful your recovery will likely be.
Ask for help in advance. If someone will be staying with you, make sure you have arranged a place for them to stay before you enter surgery.
Since you won’t be able to drive for a few months after knee surgery, you may want to have a friend on hand in case you need them to drive you somewhere.
You may not feel much like eating when you’re about to go into the hospital, but making some preparations for when you get home can help you keep up a healthy diet during your recovery.
If you live alone, consider the following options:
- Stock up the freezer with ready meals.
- Make sure you have access to online delivery of ready-made food or groceries.
- Enlist the help of a friend or relative for shopping and cooking.
- Invite someone to help you cook and join you in eating. This can help you maintain a social life during recovery.
- Have a chair or stool in the kitchen that you can use to prepare your own food and drinks.
As far as possible, plan a balanced menu with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutritious food may boost your mood and help you recover more quickly.
If you live alone or are responsible for your household, keep a list of essential telephone numbers near your chair and by your bed, in case you need to ask for help at any time.
You may wish to include contact details for:
- friends and family
- your healthcare provider
- your insurance provider
- food delivery services
- home help services, if you have assistance
- your employer
- any other numbers you frequently use
Make sure you have your telephone or mobile device within reach. If you will be communicating online, have a charger and power outlet handy.
If you are friendly with your neighbors, let them know your plans, as they may be happy to check on your from time to time.
Don’t be afraid to contact your healthcare provider, a friend, or a family member if a problem arises or if you have concerns about your wound or other issues.
The better prepared your home and living space, the better you will be able to cope during recovery, and the easier it will be to cope with problems and complications, should they arise.
If you don’t make preparations in advance, you may face added complications upon your return. This could lead to an increased risk of infection, depression, and anxiety.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about all of your post-op recovery needs to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
You can never prepare too much. The better ordered your home, the greater the likelihood of a smooth knee surgery recovery.