August 22, 2016

Knee Replacement fundamentals: an insiders perspective

Doctor examining patient before knee replacement

Facing Total Knee Replacement surgery? Just last year it was my turn to be the patient.

I have always been an active person. I enjoy the outdoors, swimming, working out at the gym. Together with my husband, I have travelled all over the country on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. My right knee had deteriorated steadily for 25 years, to the point that it would no longer function. Because I was only 30 when it began to give me trouble, the Doctors advised me to postpone Total Knee Replacement surgery until I could no longer stand the pain. In 2015, I decided the time had come to get it fixed.

The next few months were interesting. After 15 years as a Medical Equipment Specialist, working with Physicians and their patients to supply the equipment they will need during their post-op rehabilitation, it was my turn at bat.  My name at the top of the prescription came as a bit of a shock. This was going to be my Total Knee Replacement.

I am thankful that I did have the background to know what to expect before and after surgery. After all, I had reviewed this with clients many times. All that information proved itself true, and I can summarize the best of the advice right here:

Before Total Knee Replacement

Do whatever you can to get in/stay in shape. The better physical condition you are in, the easier your recovery will be. I found the elliptical machine at the gym didn’t bother my knee too much, and it was good cardio. I did lots of upper-body work as well to help strengthen my arms and shoulders. If you need to lose weight, try to do so before the surgery as well.

Get the equipment you need before the operation. You will need these thing before your discharge, and I came home the next morning! Don’t think you will go shopping for them when you get out, have them ready. You will need the walker in the hospital, so bring it with you. Your individual physician may have his or her own preferred list, but at the very least, you will need the following:

A walker with wheels. I ordered one with a seat on it as well, so I could sit down if I needed to. That was a big help once I was able to go out to the store, etc.

Rolling Walker Rollator by Drive Medical

This walker and I became very good friends!

Several large Ice bags, or even better, purchase or rent a portable cold therapy machine. They reduce pain and inflammation and aid in a quicker recovery. And I used the portable cold therapy machine EVERY day for at least 3 months.

My doctor prescribed a CPM machine (Continuous passive motion) those units keep the knee joint moving continually so that the new joint remains mobile. That was rented for about 4 weeks only, and my insurance covered the rental fees.

Bath and Shower Seat with backrest

A shower seat, and hand held shower sprayer. Definitely. I felt dizzy for a while after surgery, so it’s a safety thing. Something about the steamy heat of a shower makes me a little woozy anyway, and you do not want to take any chance of falling!

A raised toilet seat. (If your toilet seat is high already you may not need this) The object is to make it easier for you to get up.


 Chrome hand held shower spray by Drive Medical Designs

 Folding Pedal Exerciser

 

 

 

 

After Total Knee Replacement

Take your pain meds as prescribed. Particularly at the beginning keep ahead of the pain and just take it. (I do not like taking pills of any kind either, but honestly, just take it) Take it before you do your Physical Therapy and you will be able to work harder. I took pain meds every day for 6 weeks.

You have to do your Physical Therapist even though it hurts like crazy. Push yourself. Then ice and rest. It gets easier, I promise.

Get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you can. Stationary bikes are great for new knees.

Honestly, I felt better every day after surgery. I suffered a few setbacks over the months, mostly when I backed off of the stretching and exercises I was supposed to continue doing. It was one full year before I felt completely recovered, and now I am so glad it’s behind me and my surgery was a success.

Last month my family surprised me with a beach vacation on my birthday. I took long, pain-free walks every day on the beach. What a blessing that was, and I am so grateful for my new knee!

 

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