Provider supporting a patient's leg during evaluation for knee replacement
Sports / Orthopedic

What You Can Do To Make a Knee Replacement Easier

Jan 14 2019

Making joint replacement as successful as possible

Knee replacement surgery is serious. It impacts your life before, during and after the procedure. The surgery, also known as arthroplasty, removes the damaged areas of your knee and replaces them with artificial parts. Doctors do this surgery after all other treatments have failed. It’s recommended when your mobility is greatly impaired.

If your a good candidate for a knee replacement, this surgery can greatly improve your mobility and quality of life. You’ll be able to move and rest without less pain, and the ability to move more can also make the rest of your body stronger.

Are you a good candidate for knee replacement surgery?

Doctors don’t rush into knee replacement surgery. These are important considerations both you and your doctor should look at before jumping into surgery:

  • Are you over 50 years of age?
  • Do you have help at home after your surgery?
  • Are you committed to improving your lifestyle after surgery?
  • Have you tried every treatment to help your knee pain but nothing has helped?

If you answered “yes” to all four questions above, you could be a good candidate for knee replacement surgery. You’re probably not a good candidate for this type of surgery if you have weak bones or not enough bone to support an artificial knee joint. Other possibilities that may make you a poor candidate include whether you’re seriously overweight, if you have other chronic health issues or if you have an infection in your knee. Talk to your doctor about your options.

What you can do to prepare your home

If you are having knee replacement surgery, preparing your home makes your recovery easier on you and your family. You’ll want to move items around to make it easier to reach things. It helps to declutter to eliminate tripping hazards. You’ll also want to be able to sit and stand without trouble. Here are some key suggestions on how to prepare your home:

  • Add more lighting and night-lights around your home.
  • Keep a portable commode, walker and reacher tool ready.
  • Fix uneven flooring and remove loose throw rugs and cords.
  • Store kitchen items like dishes, glasses and food at counter level.
  • Use a low bed and seating so your feet touch the floor when you sit down.
  • Set up your bedroom, bathroom and main living area on the first floor of your home.
  • Place necessities like your phone and glasses in a small basket on your walker or pouch.

There’s a long list of “don’ts” you should remember, too. Don’t carry anything — you’ll need your hands for balancing. Don’t use towel bars to help you get up from the toilet. Consider having someone watch your pet after your surgery so you don’t trip over little feet.

Exercises to do before knee replacement surgery

Most likely, the pain in your knee prevents you from physical activity. That means your legs may be weak. One of the ways to prepare for knee replacement surgery is by exercising to strengthen your leg. There are 10 common, simple exercises you can do before your knee replacement surgery, including:

  • Ankle rotations
  • Chair pushups
  • Heel slides
  • Knee-straightening stretches
  • Leg raises on your back
  • Leg raises on the side
  • Leg slides
  • Sitting kicks
  • Standing on one leg with support
  • Thigh squeezes

One more exercise to prepare for post-surgery is to lie in bed and raise your upper body up on both elbows. Straighten your arms out behind you and come to a sitting position. Lower yourself down on your elbows and lie flat. This exercise takes the pressure off your legs.

How to manage after knee replacement surgery

Having assistance in place and a stronger body before surgery both help you after your knee replacement. Understanding your artificial knee joint helps you manage after surgery, too. An artificial knee feels and acts differently than your old knee. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to live with your new knee:

  • Artificial knees may pop and click while you’re moving.
  • The skin around your incision may become temporarily bumpy.
  • Your legs may feel sore or weak as they adjust to your new knee.
  • Your new knee may feel stiff after exercise for about a year after surgery.
  • The surgical incision may feel numb or develop a pins-and-needles sensation.

As you heal after knee replacement surgery, keep an eye on your weight. Any weight gain can put stress your new knee joint.

There’s always a lot to consider when knee replacement surgery is an option. If you’re a candidate for knee surgery, you’ll want to make sure you have the best care possible. Reach out to our doctors today to learn more about your best options.

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