This information will help you learn how to care for yourself after your knee replacement surgery and once you get back home.
Sitting on a chair or toilet
When sitting on a chair:
- Choose a
sturdy chair with a firm seat and armrests.
- You can raise the seat height by adding a firm cushion.
- Don’t sit on low or soft chairs and couches.
- Don’t use chairs that have wheels or that rock or swivel.
When sitting on a toilet:
- You may need a raised toilet seat and toilet armrests.
- Make sure the toilet paper is within easy reach before you sit down.
To sit on a chair or toilet:
- Back up until you feel the chair or toilet seat touch the back of your legs.
- Slide your operated leg forward slightly.
- Bend both knees and gently lower yourself onto the chair or toilet, using the armrests, countertop, or sink for support.
To stand back up, follow the steps in reverse (do step 3, 2, then 1).
Don’t use your walker to raise yourself from the chair or toilet. Always push up with your hands to get up from where you’re seated.
Getting in and out of bed
To make using your bed easier and more comfortable after surgery:
- Make sure the top of your bed is above your knees.
- Don’t use a soft mattress.
- When you’re lying on your side, support your operated knee by placing a pillow between your knees.
To get into bed:
- Sit on the bed the same way you would sit on a chair.
- Slide your buttocks back until your knees are on the bed.
- Pivot on your buttocks as you lift your legs onto the bed. Remember to keep your legs apart and not to twist.
- Use a pillow to keep your legs apart when lying on your back.
To get out of bed, reverse the steps by starting at step 3, 2, then 1.
You can use special equipment to help dress yourself such as a reacher, long-handled shoehorn, dressing stick, elastic shoelaces, and sock aid. It may also help to:
- Choose loose-fitting clothing, including socks.
- Wear low-heeled shoes with elastic laces.
- Dress your operated leg first and undress it last.
You won’t be able to sit in the bottom of the tub to bathe for about 3 months after your surgery. For the first 3 months, you’ll need to wash yourself:
- sitting down at the sink
- sitting in a bath seat in the tub
- sitting in a walk-in shower with a chair
For your safety and comfort:
- Have someone help you get in and out of the tub and help you wash until you can do it safely on your own.
- Have someone turn the faucet on and off if you can’t reach it safely. When you’re steady enough, you can stand up to turn it on and off yourself.
- Use a hand-held showerhead, long-handled sponge, or soap-on-a-rope.
To get into the tub:
- Back up slowly and carefully until you can feel the tub against the back of your legs. Hold onto the tub grab bar for support and, with your other hand, reach back for the bath seat, and lower your buttocks onto it.
- Pivot on your buttocks and lift your legs one at a time, up and over the side of the tub.
- Face the faucet and use any special equipment to help you wash safely and comfortably.
To get out of the tub, reverse the steps by doing step 3, 2, then 1.
Getting into the shower
It’s helpful to use the following equipment in your shower:
- a shower seat or chair (If your shower is too small for a seat and you’re steady on your feet, you can stand in the shower.)
- a grab bar to hold on to as you get into the shower (If you don’t have a grab bar, hold on to your walker or have someone help you get into the shower and keep your walker steady.)
- a rubber bath mat so you don’t slip
To get into the shower:
- Walk to the edge of the shower and turn so that you’re facing away from the shower stall.
- Reach back with your hand for the back of the seat in the shower, leaving your other hand on the walker.
- Move your operated leg forward.
- Sit on the seat.
- Lift your legs over the edge of the shower stall and turn to sit facing the faucet.
To get out of the shower, reverse the steps by doing step 5, 4, 3, 2, then 1.
Having dental work
Talk to your surgeon or case manager about using antibiotics (to prevent infection) before you have any dental work. Tell your dentist (or other healthcare providers) that you’ve had a knee replacement surgery in case you need to take antibiotics before having dental work.
Credit: All images on this page belong to the Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services.