You’ve just had a total knee replacement. While you know that this will definitely add years to your mobility, the pain from the surgery is the only thing you can focus on overcoming right now. While you may have been experiencing chronic pain before knee surgery, it may come as some relief that post-surgery pain should go away in a short time with proper recovery.
Immediately after surgery, you can expect to be in the care of hospital staff for anywhere from 2-5 days. They will keep you on regular pain medication and be able to keep you up to speed in your recovery process. It’s when you head home that it is now up to you to make sure you are doing your stretches, monitoring and dosing your pain and subsequent pain medication accordingly, and following your doctor’s orders.
While the ‘rest-ice-elevate’ rule applies to most injuries and surgeries, it is particularly important after a total knee replacement because your pain can be so significant, you will want to do everything you can to stay on track in your healing process.
Once home, a few days post op, you might still be taking your prescribed narcotics for your pain. Assess your pain accordingly, and be careful not to abuse the prescribed medication because you may slowly need more and more, making the pain seem greater and greater. You should find relief in the first few weeks from oxycodone or another narcotic, but eventually you will want to start transitioning into anti-inflammatory pain relievers like NSAIDs – this includes ibuprofen and naproxen.
While many people after a total replacement report that their over mobility is better in just a matter of weeks, the pain that comes from the surgery can affect their quality of life for weeks and even months at a time – especially at night when sleeping. This is when it is especially important to elevate your knee and try to find some comfort in sleeping aids so that you can receive an adequate night’s sleep.
What will the pain feel like? Again, many patients report sharp pains early on as they are initially recovering from the trauma to the knee. Once your body has started to recover from the initial surgery, pain can start to get dull and achy – especially when sleeping. Once you begin physical therapy, you might feel pain associated with soreness after your exercises. As mentioned, assess your pain and treat it accordingly with your prescribed and over-the-counter medications. It will be difficult and painful in the following weeks to months, but ultimately after recovery, it will give your body time and freedom.
If you are considering a total knee replacement, consult with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Hefley about your treatment options. After an exam and any necessary imaging, he can assess whether any non-invasive treatment might be worth trying, or consult you about possible surgical options. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 336-2412 or use our Online Appointment Request Form.