The Joint Replacement Center at
Johnson City Medical Center
Post-Op Knee Care
Caring For Yourself At Home
When you go home there are a variety of things you need to know for your safety, your speedy recovery and your comfort.
Control Your Discomfort
Take your pain medicine at least 30 minutes before physical therapy.
Gradually wean yourself from
prescription medication to Tylenol. You may take two extra-strength
Tylenol in place of your prescription medication up to four times per
Change your position every 45 minutes throughout the day.
Use ice for pain control.
Applying ice to your affected joint will decrease discomfort, but do not
use more than 20 minutes at a time each hour. You can use it before and
after your exercise program. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a kitchen
towel makes an ideal ice pack. Mark the bag of peas and return them to
the freezer (to be used as an ice pack later).
Post-Op Knee Care and Exercises
medications that you may be given to prevent a blood clot in your blood
vessels. Your physician will prescribe your anticoagulation medication
and your exact dose. You will be instructed on administration and
possible side effects prior to your discharge from the hospital.
You will be
asked to wear special white stockings. These stockings are used to help
compress the veins in your legs. This helps to keep swelling down and
reduces the chance for blood clots.
If swelling in the operative leg
is bothersome, elevate the leg for short periods throughout the day.
It's best to lie down and raise the leg above heart level.
Wear the stockings continuously, removing for one-two hours twice a day.
Notify your physician if you notice increased pain or swelling in either leg.
Ask your surgeon when you can discontinue stockings. Usually, this will be done three weeks after surgery.
Your appetite may be poor. Drink plenty of fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Your desire for solid food will return.
You may have difficulty sleeping. This is normal. Don't sleep or nap too much during the day.
Your energy level will be decreased for the first month.
Pain medication that contains
narcotics promotes constipation. Use stool softeners or laxatives such
as milk of magnesia if necessary.
Caring For Your Incision
- Specific incision care will be instructed on at time of discharge
- You may shower 24-48 hours after surgery, unless instructed otherwise.
- Notify your surgeon if there is increased drainage, redness, pain, odor or heat around the incision.
- Take your temperature if you feel warm or sick. Call your surgeon if it exceeds 101.5° F for more than 24 hours.
Signs of Infection
Prevention of Infection
Increased swelling, redness at incision site
color, amount, odor of drainage
Increased pain in knee
Fever greater than 101 degrees F
Take proper care of your incision as explained.
Take prophylactic antibiotics when having work, other potentially contaminating procedures. This needs to be done for at least two years after your surgery.
Notify your physician and dentist that you have a total joint replacement.
Recognizing & Preventing Potential Complications
Blood Clots in Legs
may cause the blood to slow and coagulate in the veins of your legs,
creating a blood clot. This is why you take blood thinners after
surgery. If a clot occurs despite these measures you may need to be
admitted to the hospital to receive intravenous blood thinners. Prompt
treatment usually prevents the more serious complication of pulmonary
Prevention of Blood Clots
- Foot and ankle pumps
- Compression stockings
- Blood thinners such as Lovenox and Xarelto
An unrecognized blood clot could break away from the vein and travel to the lungs. This is an emergency and you should CALL 911 if suspected.
Sings of a Pulmonary Embolus
Sudden chest pain
- Diffucult and/or rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
Prevention of Pulmonary Embolus
blood clot could break away from the vein and travel to the lungs. This
is an emergency and you should CALL 911 if suspected.
important to obtain the best results from total knee surgery. You may
receive exercises from a physical therapist at an outpatient facility or
at home. In either case you need to participate in an ongoing home
exercise program as well. After each therapy session, ask your therapist
to instruct you on home exercises to do on non-outpatient therapy days.
Exercising should take approximately 20 minutes and should be done
twice daily. If you are recovering quickly, it is recommended that you
supplement these exercises with others that your therapist recommends.
Around the House
DO NOT get down on your knees to scrub floors. Use a mop and long-handled brushes.
Plan ahead! Gather all your cooking supplies at one time. Then sit to prepare your meal.
Place frequently used cooking supplies and utensils where they can be reached without too much bending or stretching.
To provide a better working height, use a high stool, or put cushions on your chair when preparing meals.
Slide heavy cookware along countertops, using a towel or pot-holder to decrease risk of dropping or spilling.
Safety and Avoiding Falls
Pick up throw rugs and tack down
loose carpeting. Cover slippery surfaces with carpets that are firmly
anchored to the floor or that have non-skid backs.
Be aware of all floor hazards such as pets, small objects, electrical cords or uneven surfaces.
Provide good lighting throughout. Install nightlights in the bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways.
Keep extension cords and telephone cords out of pathways. DO NOT run wires under rugs; this is a fire hazard.
Sit in chairs with arms. it makes it easier to get up.
Rise slowly from either a sitting or lying position so as not to get light-headed.
DO NOT lift heavy objects for the first three months, and then only with your surgeon's permission.
Stop and think. Use good judgement.
DO NOT wear open-toe slippers or shoes without backs. They do not provide adequate support and can lead to slips and falls.
Dos and Don'ts For the Rest of Your Life
Whether you have
reached all the recommended goals in three months or not, all joint
patients need to have a regular exercise program to maintain fitness and
the health of the muscles around your joints. With both your orthopedic
and primary care physicians’ permission you should be on a regular
exercise program three to four times per week lasting 20 – 30 minutes.
Impact activities such as running and singles tennis may put too much
load on the joint and are not recommended. High-risk activities such as
downhill skiing are likewise discouraged because of the risk of
fractures around the prosthesis. Infections are always a potential
problem and you may need antibiotics for prevention.
What to Do in General
Take antibiotics one hour before you are having dental work or other invasive procedures for two years after surgery.
Although the risks are very low
for post-op infections, it is important to realize that the risk
remains. A prosthetic joint could possibly attract the bacteria from an
infection located in another part of your body. If you should develop a
fever of more than 101 degrees F, or suffer an injury such as a deep
cut or puncture wound, you should clean it as best you can, put a
sterile dressing or Band-Aid on it and notify your doctors. The closer
the injury is to your prosthesis the bigger the concern. Occasionally,
antibiotics may be needed. Superficial scratches may be treated with
tropical antibiotic ointment. Notify your doctor if the area is painful
When traveling, stop and change position hourly to prevent your joint from tightening.
See your surgeon yearly unless otherwise recommended.
What to Do for Exercise
Choose a Low-Impact Activity
- Recommended exercise classes
- Home program as outlined in Patient Guide
- Regular one - three mile walks
- Home treadmill
- Stationary bike
- Regular exercise at a fitness center
- Low-impact sports - gold, bowling, walking, gardening, dancing, swimming, pool exercise, etc.
What Not to Do
- Do not run or engage in high-impact activities
- Do no participate in high-risk activities such as downhill skiing, walking on ice, etc.
Wellness Connection Program
The Wellness Connection Program offers
individuals with special medical needs, such as joint replacement, the
opportunity to participate in an individualized, closely supervised
exercise program. :::Learn More:::
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions (423)431-6937