Rehabilitation & Post Op
Rehabilitation and post operative care are a necessary component of your recovery. Here you'll find some guidelines to keep in mind. Please note, your surgeon will have a recommendation tailored to your needs.
Remember, all surgical procedures have recovery time involved. Following your rehabilitation protocol is an investment in yourself and your future ability. No matter what kind of rehabilitation your doctor prescribes for you, it’s important to follow it exactly.
Most surgeons will require routine follow-up visits, generally at 2, 4, and/or 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.
Your doctor may recommend you wear a leg brace for the first two to four weeks—even while you sleep. Bracing your leg protects it from movements that might injure your knee, including twisting and turning. You should take it off only when you are using the CPM (continuous passive motion) machine or during other physical therapy.
Your doctor will send you home with specific physical therapy exercises, lists of dos and don’ts, and crutches. You may also receive a CPM machine, which helps restore motion to your knee.
The first week after surgery is usually the most uncomfortable; your doctor will discuss your individual pain management with you in more detail. After the first week, medication may be only necessary before physical therapy exercises and at bedtime.
While the length of your recovery depends on many factors, most patients can perform normal activities like walking or driving relatively quickly. How soon you can return to work or other activities depends on how much stress those activities place on your healing knee. These are some general guidelines:
- Off crutches by 8-9 week
- Walk 1 to 2 miles or bike for 30 minutes by 12 weeks.
- Low impact sports (swimming, skating, in-line skating and cycling) at 6 months
- Higher-impact sports (jogging, running, aerobics) at 8-9 months
- High-impact sports (tennis, basketball, football, baseball) at 12-18 months
After the Procedure
While each hospital or treatment facility has its own protocols, this is what you might expect:
- Immediately after your procedure, you will be brought to the recovery room.
- As the anesthesia wears off, you may feel tired and slightly disoriented; the after effects can vary greatly from person to person.
- Typically for 4 to 6 hours your knee will be in a brace that locks it straight out.
- After 6 hours you may begin to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. This passive motion helps to prevent stiffness in your knee joint while nourishing your articular cartilage and preventing adhesions from forming.
- Before you leave the treatment facility, a physical therapist will teach you how to safely transfer from sitting to standing, putting minimal weight on your healing knee.
A member of your medical team will see you to determine the timing of your discharge. Their decision may be based on:
- Adequate pain management on oral medications
- Normal temperature (no fever)
- Ability to get in and out of bed without help
- Ability to walk with crutches
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