Explore Total Knee Replacement Post-op Expectations

Admission/Discharge:

Most people are in the hospital for 2-3 days. Depending on your living arrangements and your physical therapy evaluation while admitted, you will either be discharged home or to a rehabilitation facility. If you are discharged home, a visiting nurse and physical therapist will come and see you 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks.

If you are discharged to an inpatient facility you will probably be there for 1-2 weeks. Once you are home, a visiting nurse and physical therapists will come to see you 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks.

Physical Therapy (PT):

For the first 2-3 weeks after surgery you may need to ambulate with crutches or a cane for added support while your muscles regain strength. When you progress off of support depends greatly on your health, strength and stability. Along with our office, your physical therapist will help you transition from crutches to a cane and then off of support. The first eight weeks following knee surgery are especially important and require a lot of work. Be diligent with the exercises physical therapy provides you to maximize your range of motion.

Many insurance companies permit a limited amount of home visits for physical therapists. At your first post-operative visit, we will give you a prescription for outpatient physical therapy for an additional 4 weeks. If your home PT expires before your first visit, please call the office and we will fax a prescription to the facility of your choice.

Pain Management:

The first 4-5 weeks post operatively patients often need to take narcotic pain medication. MOST people are able to stop taking narcotics by 4 weeks post-op. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve) are often very effective in managing post-operative pain. NSAID’s are very good alleviating swelling and pain and can be paired with a narcotic. You should only take NSAIDs if you can tolerate them and it is OK with your doctor.

If you require narcotic pain medication beyond the normal post-operative course you will be referred to the Pain Clinic for further management of your symptoms.

Remember: Certain narcotic pain medications cannot be called into the pharmacy. Please plan ahead if your prescription is running low to allow for postal delivery.

Prophylactic Antibiotic:

Now that you have an artificial joint you will need to take antibiotics prior to all dental cleanings and invasive procedures. The current recommendation for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons is to continue this practice for at least two years, if not for life. It is preferable to defer elective procedures for three months following surgery to minimize your risk of infection. If you must have work done earlier, please notify the office. Discuss your provider’s preferences at your first post-operative visit and at all follow up visits as guidelines may change.

Follow-up:

You will see either your surgeon or nurse practitioner at your first post-op visit 4 weeks after surgery. You will have x-rays, your range of motion and muscle strength will be assessed and we will go over your questions. Most patients’ then return 6 months and 1 year after surgery for repeat x-rays and assessment.

If you have any questions pertaining to your care please do not hesitate to call us. We will gladly answer your questions. We look forward to working with you over the coming months.



Patient Resources

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Total Knee Replacement

Total Knee Replacement

Learn more information on Total Knee Replacements at Mass General.

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Total Knee Replacement Patient Guide

Total Knee Replacement Patient Guide

Our PDF guide to give in-depth information about total knee replacements at Mass General.

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Knee Animations

Knee Animations

Animations of common knee procedures.