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Post Operative Information - Knee

Things to be aware of in the six weeks after surgery

Nursing staff at the hospital and during your rehabilitation period will educate you on what you can and cannot do after your surgery.  Here is a list of the things you will need to be mindful of during your first 6 weeks.

Things you should do -

  • Sleep in a position that feels comfortable
  • Use walking aids as required
  • Elevate leg if there is a lot of swelling

Things to avoid -

  • Do not kneel on your operated knee
  • Do not put a pillow under your operated knee

Wound care - generally, a wound from knee replacement surgery requires very little care. Most people have sutures that dissolve themselves and do not require removal. Before leaving the hospital, your dressing will be changed. When you commence your rehabilitation program after you leave hospital, hydrotherapy is safe 3 weeks after surgery, provided you have a waterproof dressing in place. It is important to keep the wound dry for a few weeks. In some cases, if the wound is inflamed or oozing, oral antibiotics may be required for a short period of time. In this case, you should contact our rooms straight away. If you cannot reach us (out-of-hours), you should contact the Mater Hospital or your GP. You should seek medical attention and remember the wound should be kept covered with a dressing until the oozing and inflammation ceases.

Swelling - It is common to have swelling in the knee, lower leg and ankle following total knee replacement. This can remain for up to six months following surgery. The amount of swelling is generally dependent on your activity level.

Stockings - You will be required to wear TED stockings for a period of time after surgery.

Pain medication - Patients generally only need Panadol or Panadeine after discharge from hospital. Dr Walter will ask you to see your GP if stronger pain medication is needed, as your GP is in the best position to manage your overall health and all your medications. Dr Walter does not prescribe narcotics to patients after they leave hospital.

Activities - During the first six weeks after your surgery, we recommend limiting your activities to walking with support, gentle swimming in the shallow end once you have been given permission to get the wound wet. We recommend you refrain from exercises such as pilates, golf and social tennis until three months after the date of your surgery. Be aware that it is quite common to hear or feel a clicking noise in your knee in the months after surgery. This usually settles down in time. High impact activities such as running/jogging and activities which put your body into extreme poses, such as yoga, are not recommended at any time after knee replacement. If you are enthusiastic about a particular sport, please seek instructions from Dr Walter, as there are often ways you can modify your movement to keep your knee safe.

Sex - you can have sex whenever you feel ready.

Driving - The Roads & Traffic Authority states you should not drive for at least six weeks following a joint replacement. In order to be safe driving a car, you must be able to control the pedals properly. As you get to the six week mark, ask yourself if you would be able to stop quickly if a pedestrian ran in front of your vehicle. If you feel you could not react quickly enough, wait a little longer.

Travel - It is usually safe to take a short flight a week after surgery as long as you do not have blood clots in your legs. Long flights are best avoided during the first few months after surgery as there is a risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). If you must travel, we recommend you wear TED stockings, mobilise throughout the flight as much as possible and if possible keep your legs elevated when seated during the flight. If it is necessary to travel long distances, then speak to your GP or Dr Walter prior to doing so.

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