When medication, injections, and physical therapy are no longer helpful in reducing knee pain, knee replacement surgery becomes an option.
Doctors suggested waiting on surgery until the pain was unbearable in the past. Now, it is recommended that surgeries are done when a person’s daily activities are limited by pain and loss of function.
While anticipating knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) can be intimidating, learning what to expect can ease some of your or your senior loved one’s worries and fears.
The majority of older adults recover from surgery after six months. They can walk, drive, and partake in activities after only a few weeks.
The relief of pain and restoration of function in the knee will make life less painful, more enjoyable and improve the quality of your senior’s life.
What to expect before a knee replacement surgery
Before surgery, you want to ensure that your senior loved one’s home is safe. Floors should be clear, so you may need to move tripping hazards, like rugs, clutter, and cords.
Since they will be using some type of walking device for a couple of weeks, place items often used within reach. Install safety rails in your senior’s bathrooms for extra safety precautions if they don’t already have them.
Seniors living in an assisted living community will likely have a one-level living space, but for those living in a home with multiple floors, adjust their living area so they don’t have to go up or down any stairs.
Seniors will need someone to be with them for the first week or two after their surgery. If they live at home, contact other family members to see if they can step in when you are unavailable.
Make sure to speak with your loved one’s physician about their current medications. Interactions occur between certain medicines, and their doctor can adjust their medication accordingly if needed.
Recovery and what to expect after knee replacement surgery
After surgery, a team of healthcare providers will be there to assist your loved one until they go home.
A physical therapist will assist them with getting in and out of bed and helping them take short walks, while an occupational therapist will teach them how to use assisted devices.
Most patients can go home the same day of their surgery, while others may have to stay longer. But, even for those who have to stay longer, it doesn’t mean it’s all bed rest. Seniors are expected to begin their recovery process immediately after surgery.
Like after any surgery, there will be minor pain. The health care team will keep your loved one comfortable with low-dose narcotics, nerve pain medication, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Easing the pain is one part of the recovery process, but the most crucial part is rehabilitation and to keep up with physical therapy. Keep the knee joints moving for a quick recovery and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Standing and walking after surgery
Your senior will likely need an assisted walking device for the first few weeks, like a walker, crutches, or cane. After the first couple of weeks, they should be able to stand and walk without help.
Driving after surgery
If your senior was capable of driving before their surgery, it shouldn’t be long before they are on the road again. If the orthopedic surgeon replaced their left knee, they could be driving after two to three weeks. For a right knee replacement, it could take three to six weeks.
How long does the pain last after surgery?
Some pain is normal after knee surgery. While the pain may occur for up to several weeks, it will be minor and reduce over time. If your senior was in severe pain before their surgery, the pain after surgery might feel less severe to them.
How to manage the pain?
Before your senior is released from the hospital, they will be prescribed oral medications to take for up to several weeks. These typically include ibuprofen or naproxen.
Massages can help decrease pain as well. A physical therapist can provide massages and teach your senior exercises to help reduce inflammation.
Physical therapy after knee placement
Though a complete recovery may take up to one year, your senior loved one will be up and moving immediately after their surgery.
For a better understanding of what recovery looks like, let’s look at the timeline below.
One to three weeks after surgery
For the first few weeks, your senior may need to use a walker or crutches until their knee is strong enough to carry more weight.
From the day they leave the hospital, your senior’s daily routine will include exercises and techniques their physical therapist taught them. During this time, they must walk and try to bend the knee.
These exercises will help them improve their mobility and range of motion.
Four to six weeks after surgery
At this stage of recovery, your loved one can do more everyday tasks, return to work, drive, and travel.
Physical therapy will continue to help increase their knee strength. They should be able to stand for extended periods, go for longer walks, and rarely need their walking devices.
Up to 12 weeks after surgery and beyond
Your senior will need physical therapy until they reach the 12 week mark.
While their range of motion may have only been 90 degrees in the past weeks, their knee should bend at 115 degrees now. The full range of motion is 135 degrees.
Your senior will have little to no pain and stiffness by the end of 12 weeks and can increase physical activity, such as swimming and bicycling.
Rehabilitation in assisted living
Specially trained HealthPro Heritage therapists can provide support and services in an optimal environment to help your senior heal faster and improve their quality of life.
With physical therapists and occupational therapists, seniors will benefit from learning how to adapt to life changes and new self-care skills, while increasing their mobility, range of motion, and the strength of their body and knee.
Having on-site therapists can make life easier for everyone. Rather than setting up appointments and finding someone to drive them, therapists can come right to their homes.
The Kensington Redondo Beach offers comfort and wellness
The Kensington Redondo Beach takes pride in the services and amenities we offer our residents and their families.
From transportation to follow up appointments and regular check-ups, our team is dedicated to ensuring they are meeting their needs on a routine basis.
We know how important family is, which is why it is Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.
We also offer resources and events for our residents’ families, such as our caregiver support groups, so that everyone involved in your loved one’s life can feel supported.