Post-Op Knee Surgery Check List
Knee surgery is one of the most common surgeries on the planet that I see in my office, next to low back surgery. I see patients that have taken great care of their knees after surgery, ensuring great preparation, and then some, not so much. My goal is to at least make you aware so you can come out of your surgery and recovery successfully!
Here are some really great tips if you are considering knee surgery to get the most benefit out of it and plan to help your body accept it and adapt to the fullest.
Don't Neglect Your Spine!
Remember my post about how sitting is the new smoking? You're going to be sitting - A LOT - and you'll want to make sure you're getting adjusted at least once per week throughout the recovery process. Sitting takes its toll on your low back. Ask any of my desk jockey patients! Get adjusted right before your surgery and as soon as you're able, get back in to have it checked and keep your appointments.
Also, when you're starting and going through physical therapy, your spine will compensate for that knee hurting, forcing your body to compensate for the slack on that side. Continuing adjustments is crucial to ensure your spine is staying well and your body is functioning optimally.
Acupuncture isn't a bad idea either. Acupuncture will help tremendously with pain and swelling.
ICE, ICE BABY!
I can't stress how important this is ya'll! Often times we forget how the simplest modalities can benefit us the most! The body's fastest and natural response to any sort of trauma (aside from pain receptors) is inflammation and swelling. Fluid in the joint occupies space, which by putting pressure internally, can really cause some aftermath effects that don't go away if left ignored! You can get some pretty neat stay in place, wrap around knee packs for fairly cheap online.
Ice every single day, every single hour for up to two weeks post surgery. Your surgeon and physical therapist will be shocked by you doing just this simple little task...and yes, they will be able to tell! Icing will also tremendously help you when you get ready to start physical therapy. Yes, being cold isn't the greatest in my book, but keeping the swelling down will greatly benefit you speaking long term. You'll want to apply an ice pack around that knee for 20 minutes out of the hour every single hour aside from when you're sleeping.
Raise 'Em Up High
This is probably the second most important element during the initial healing process and throughout recovery. Keep your leg elevated so the fluid can drain. Gravity is not your friend here and you don't want that fluid pooling around your knee. Ice while elevated for maximal results.
These will be provided by your doctor. Wear them! These will assist in the pain and fluid aspects of recovery, so you're wearing your compression socks while your leg is elevated and icing. BOOM! Three in one, done!
Thought you were done with booster seats, huh? Think again! You'll need a medical booster seat for your toilet(s) at home - and boy will you be thanking yourself! So will your caretaker! A booster seat will take a great deal of pressure off of that knee when you're sitting from standing and visa versa. This applies to both men and women.
One really important thing people forget about is ensuring your caretaker is BIGGER than you are! This especially applies to men. Usually, our husbands are proportionally larger than us ladies.
Your caretaker will be putting loads of pressure on their low backs, necks and shoulders trying to get you up and down when needed, so make sure you have a plan for your caretaker when it comes to breaks and assistance if you're the husband undergoing surgery. Also, encourage your caretaker to be getting their spine checked! Chiropractic care should never be neglected by either party!
Let's Talk GI
More than likely, you will be prescribed oxycodone for pain. Oxy actually constipates you, so you'll need a laxative as well until you no longer need the pain meds. I recommend magnesium citrate in liquid form. Get this before you start taking your pain meds.
This May Surprise You
Being a Chiropractor, it erks me to say this 😜, but you will need to take aspirin to avoid blood clots. Blood clots can be somewhat dangerous, especially in and around the knee, so in order to avoid this, take a blood thinner. Always check with your physician before mixing meds with anything they've prescribed you.
You will also need a muscle relaxer. This is so extremely important! During the healing process and while undergoing physical therapy, your muscles will spasm like no other. Now I'm not talking about the knots you get in your neck from time to time due to stress. I'm talking about a charlie horse in your thigh and calf like you've never experienced before! Taking muscle relaxers will help you get through physical therapy safely and less painfully.
This Is My Fave
My favorite part is asking the question: What do you want your range of motion to be like post-recovery? Do you want to regain the motion you had in that knee when you were younger, where you could squat all the way to the floor? Say yes!
It is absolutely crucial that you push yourself through physical therapy. Don't miss appointments; don't cheat yourself. You got this and you can do it! Physical therapy will be tormenting and there will be times you will want to say, "Forget it!" and be done. But I encourage you to stay strong and get through it so you'll regain FULL range of motion in that knee and promote healthy and full healing.
From a Chiropractic standpoint, if you don't push yourself through the therapy, your knee will turn out to be lacking in its functionality, which will in turn place stress on your hips and spine to compensate. Avoid this and be strong!