About 600,000 people in the US will have knee replacement surgery this year.
That's a lot of knees, ya'll!
It's considered the last resort for when other therapies have failed or no longer work - because who wants to have their knee replaced!?!
For years my husband had damaged knees (as in no cartilage left whatsoever - ouch) due to a family history of arthritis & being a runner. Knees + running are sometimes not BFFs. Two years ago he underwent replacement surgery on his right knee & earlier this month his left knee joined the Bionic Club.
I'm not a medical professional & everyone's situation is different, but here are some tips that might work if you are helping a significant other/friend/family.
Rest up/get enough sleep.
You will be shouldering more responsibilities & won't be able to do so running on fumes. Rest when you can, push aside any responsibilities that can wait, get your sleep, & be easy on yourself (& the person with the bum knee ;-) - things will get back to normal soon.
Take some time off to help your Person get situated. Make home as walker-friendly & safe as possible. They will come home from the hospital with a walker but it's only temporary. Roll up area rugs & bath mats, rearrange furniture, & clear any tripping hazards.
Limit visitors at first.
Visits from friends & family are wonderful, but in the medicated haze of the first few weeks, it's not the best idea. Play it by ear.
Have food & snacks but don't expect them to eat much of it.
Coming off of anesthesia & pain medicine can alter an appetite. Find out what might taste best to them & then stock up. Wins in our house have been apples, oranges, Klondike bars :-), cheese & crackers, simple soups, cereal, toast, eggs, & nothing too spicy. When you are away from home, leave out snacks, bottles of water, a waste basket, tissues - any daily items within reach for easy access.
For his first surgery, I used meal delivery services such as Blue Apron & Hello Fresh (they were offering great promos, so it worked out well). I wouldn't use these services on a regular basis, but it saved me some trips to the grocery store & were well worth the cost of convenience during that time...something to consider.
Pajamas/hoodies/sweats with pockets are perfect.
When you go back work or are away from home, they'll at least be able to tote some lightweight things around the house because using a walker is not conducive to carrying items - nor is it safe.
If you have pets make sure their needs are covered as well. If you have jumpy pets or kids, be extra careful too.
(our jumpy-est pet)
Be prepared to make pharmacy runs for refills & doctor runs for follow-up appointments.
Pain medication will need to be picked up in person (for what I hope are obvious reasons) & make sure that any needed refills are requested on a timely basis. Also, help keep track of dosages (important) & when medicine(s) needs to be taken - a memo pad or timer alerts work well.
Medication can also affect body temperature - one minute they will be freezing to sweating bullets the next. Your thermostat will be on rollercoaster status. Have blankets within reach & have a powder (like Gold Bond) at the ready to help keep skin cool & battle the sweating that can occur with the medication + bed rest combo.
And because there is bed rest, be prepared to change your sheets often. One of my friends recommended using towels over bed sheets too (she broke her ankle once upon a time) as they are easy to remove & change out.
Ice is king.
A physical therapist (PT) will be at your home at least three times a week (unless you are in a rehab facility) for the first couple of weeks & those workouts are tough! Ice offers lots of relief so have at least two packs (Amazon has lots of great options) - we have one with Velcro straps that wrap around the knee & it's been a huge help. We also bought refillable ones for when my husband goes back to work.
A yoga strap is great for PT too.
The strap will be useful for the prescribed exercises. If you don't have a yoga strap, a dog leash can work just as well.
Get a walking cane (again, Amazon).
After using a walker they will graduate to a cane (your PT will advise when this can happen) - have one ready to use when they can make the transition. After the cane - viola, nothing - the goal is pain-free walking!
Cabin fever will set in after a few weeks & books, movies, games, crossword puzzles, meditation apps, & visits from friends & family help. If they are serious sports fans, it might not be a bad idea to schedule the surgery during their favorite season - how often does a person get to stay in & watch All The Football guilt free?
How long does recovery take?
It will vary from person to person but expect about six weeks. Talk to others who've had the surgery, but don't base their experiences on your own. We met people who were back to normal in a couple of days & others who needed months to feel "normal". The healthier you are going into surgery (any surgery for that matter), the better your recovery.
Ask for help when needed. Ask the PT or surgeon questions if you have any concerns. And above all, go the ER/call 911 if you think it's warranted - go with your gut if you feel the recovery is not going as it should.
Reach out to friends & family when needed & try to enjoy this downtime. Watch favorite movies & TV shows, take walks together when the knee is able, go out to eat somewhere low-key or get some take out as a treat - always do what works best for your family.
I hope this helps someone out there & good luck.
Cheers to happier knees,