You can expect to have pain after surgery, even if you’ve been given medicine for pain. It’s important that your pain is well managed so that you can stand, walk, and start your physical therapy.
Tell the nurse when you’re feeling pain and ask for pain medicine. If possible, take pain medicine 30 to 45 minutes before your physical therapy sessions, so it has time to work.
Tell your surgeon or nurse if the pain medicine isn’t managing your pain or if you think you’re having side effects.
Ask for ice to put on your knee and for pillows to keep your operated leg raised to help lower the pain and swelling.
You’ll be asked to rate your pain level using this scale. The number you choose helps your nurse or surgeon know how well the pain medicine is working for you.
You’ll have to breathe deeply and cough at least once an hour after surgery to clear your lungs.
You’ll be shown foot and ankle exercises to do once every hour to help prevent blood clots.
You’ll need to take a blood thinner after surgery to lower the chance of getting a blood clot. Your surgeon will decide how long you should be on a blood thinner. You’ll be given a prescription for a blood thinner to take for a few weeks after you go home. If the blood thinner is given by needle, your nurse will show you how give the injection before you leave the hospital.
Everyone loses blood during knee replacement surgery. Losing too much blood may leave you feeling dizzy, tired, short of breath, sick to your stomach, and you may have a headache.
Losing too much blood can slow your healing and recovery. Your surgeon may start you on iron pills or give you a blood transfusion to build up your blood levels.
It’s important to eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids after your surgery.
After surgery, you’ll get fluids by IV until you can eat and drink enough on your own.
Once you’re able to eat and drink, you can start eating your regular diet. Follow the guidelines in
Canada’s Food Guide. If you aren’t eating well, ask your healthcare team about taking a nutrition supplement.
Healthy eating after surgery helps you feel better sooner because it:
To prevent constipation:
If you’re constipated, a nurse will offer you something to help your stools pass. It’s important to tell the nurse when you’ve had a bowel movement.
If a tube was inserted to drain your urine during and after surgery, it will be taken out the morning after surgery. The nurses will make sure you can urinate (pass water) without the tube.
You’ll be expected to do your personal hygiene on your own. Please ask your nurse if you need help. Make sure all the items you need are within reach before you start.
You’ll be allowed to shower after the bandages around the area of surgery are changed for the first time or when your surgeon tells you it’s okay to shower. Don’t put any lotions or creams on your operated leg for the first 6 weeks after surgery.
You need both rest and activity to recover. You’ll tire easily the first few weeks after surgery. You may find that your normal sleep patterns also change. Let the way you feel be your guide to what you can and can’t do.
Stop what you’re doing and rest when you begin to feel tired. It’s better for you to do shorter activities (like walking) more often, rather than doing one long activity. Remember to do your foot and ankle exercises every hour.
Your leg will swell as you become more active after surgery. It’s normal for your knee to be warm and swollen for many weeks after surgery.
You’ll be helped to move from your bed to a chair. You may be standing and walking within 4 to 8 hours after surgery. Your activity level will go up every day. You’ll also begin a program to help improve the flexibility or range of movement in your new knee and make the knee stronger.
Current as of: May 6, 2019
Author: Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services
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