There are many factors that can
contribute to recovery time, but typically patients can return to
normal life activities within 1 to 6 months. To be more specific, however, we can examine the difference between "short-term recovery" and "long-term recovery".
Short-term recovery involves the early stages of recovery, such as the
ability to get out of the hospital bed and be discharged from the
hospital. On days 1 or 2, most total knee replacement patients are
given a walker to stabilize them. By the third day after the surgery,
most patients can go home. Short-term recovery also involves getting
off major pain killers and having a full night's sleep without pills.
Once a patient no longer needs walking aids and can walk around the
house without pain--in addition to being able to walk two blocks around
the house without pain or resting--all of these are considered signs of
short-term recovery. The average short-term recovery time for a total
knee replacement is 6 to 12 weeks.
Long-term recovery involves
the complete healing of surgical wounds and internal soft tissues.
When a patient can return to work and the activities of daily living,
they are on the way to achieving the full term of recovery. Another
indicator is when the patient finally feels normal again. The
average long-term recovery for total knee replacement patients is
between 3 and 6 months. Dr. Ian C. Clarke, medical researcher and
founder of Peterson Tribology Laboratory for joint replacement at Loma
Linda University, writes, "Our surgeons consider that patients have
'recovered' when their current status has improved much beyond their
arthritic pre-op pain level and dysfunction."
There are a
number of contributing factors that influence recovery time. Josephine
Fox, a moderator at the BoneSmart.org knee replacement forums and nurse
of over fifty years, says that a positive attitude
is everything. Patients should be prepared for hard work, some pain
and an expectation that the future is going to be bright.
Having access to information about knee replacement surgery and a
strong support network is also important to recovery. Josephine
writes, "Many small or large issues crop
up during recovery, from a pimple near the wound to an unexpected and
unusual pain. In these times it is good to have a support group to turn
to and get feed back upon an instant. Somebody out there has very
likely experienced the same or similar and the ‘expert' will have a
word as well."
Pain management is essential for
recovery in post-operative total knee replacement patients. Range of
motion will often determine recovery and therefore it is important to
focus on flexion and the extension of the joint. In addition,
Josephine recommends elevation exercises and regular icing. The
reliance on pain medication, or lack thereof, can also be an indicator
of recovery. Some patients may only take 1 pain pill following their
surgery, Dr. Clarke says, while other may have to be weaned off the
Physical therapy within the first six weeks is
also very important. Physical therapy improves the motion of the knee
and allows for a natural transition back to knee movement in daily
activities. Patients who comply with physical therapy exercises tend
to recover much faster.
Generally speaking, knee replacement
patients take longer to recover than, say, hip replacement patients. It
should still be noted, however, that recovery time for a total knee
replacement can differ vastly from patient to patient. Some patients
may take six months to recover; while others may recover in one month.
BoneSmart.org is a National Public-Awareness Campaign for Candidates of Hip Replacement Surgery and Knee Replacement Surgery.
The BoneSmart® National Consumer Awareness Campaign's mission is to
raise patient awareness of the options available to persons diagnosed
as a hip replacement or knee replacement candidates by providing an
Internet portal for awareness of the latest advances in joint
replacement materials, their longevity and suitability for various
applications. With this information the potential patient may be better
informed when discussing options with his or her surgeon.
Last Updated on Sunday, 28 June 2009 13:59
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