If the arthritis in your knee gives you so much pain that it interferes with your ability to work or go about your usual activities, then a total knee replacement could be the solution. Your doctor will probably try a variety of other treatments first, but if they don't relieve your pain, then putting in an artificial joint may be the best solution. If you decide to go through with the surgery, you should know what to expect during the recovery period so you can be prepared. Here are a few things you should know.

Stay Mobile To Speed Recovery

You'll probably have some pain right after the surgery, and your knee will be swollen. However, you don't want to stay in bed because that can lead to complications like stiffness and blood clots. You'll heal quicker if you get up and walk as soon as possible and continue with light exercise during your recovery. Your doctor or physical therapist will give you guidelines for acceptable activity and exercise. You'll be encouraged to walk, swim, and do other low-impact activities. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises in the hospital that stretch and strengthen your knee. It's important to do the exercise routine as often as instructed and stay mobile each day so you recover as quickly as possible. Just don't try to speed up your recovery by overdoing it. You won't be able to do things like jog or lift heavy objects until your knee is fully healed.

Prepare Your Home In Advance

Be sure to arrange your home before you leave for the hospital since you won't be able to move furniture or do heavy housecleaning once you come back home. If your bedroom is upstairs, you may need to move your bed downstairs for a few weeks until you are strong enough to climb stairs again. Also, create a sitting area with a comfortable chair and ottoman for propping up your leg. Put a table nearby to hold your drinks, remote control, reading material, and cane, so everything you need is within reach. If you live alone or will be home alone all day, you may want to prepare meals in advance and freeze them so all you have to do is put a container in the microwave when you want to eat something. Also, make your home safe by removing rugs and installing grab bars in the bathroom.

Limit Travel During Recovery

Your doctor will probably want you to delay travel for several days or a few weeks after your surgery. Flying during this time is generally not a good idea, since your knee is kept in a cramped position for too long when you're in an airplane. Traveling by car is a better choice as long as you make frequent travel stops so you can walk around and flex your knee. You shouldn't drive until your doctor clears you. During the first several days, your reflexes are slow and you may be under the influence of narcotics, so driving is not a good idea until your recovery is well underway.

Complete recovery from a total knee replacement will take a few months. However, you can go back to work much sooner than that. It depends on the type of job you have. If your job requires heavy lifting or climbing stairs, you'll need to take off work longer than if you sit at a desk all day. For the first several days, you'll be using ice packs and heat to help deal with pain, and doing your exercises to help with stiffness and mobility, so clearing your schedule of all work and social activities is helpful so you can focus on your recovery.

For more information, contact Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC or a similar location.