What do I need at home after total knee replacement surgery? (Day of Surgery)
Your surgical team should have provided you with a comprehensive checklist of required items you will need for home after your total knee replacement surgery.
They will also provide you with information about medication timing and dosage. Be sure to have an emergency contact number for a 24-hour hotline because it is almost inevitable that you will have questions about medication in the middle of the night that require a nurse or doctor’s advice.
Day 1 Equipment:
- A walker
- Ice packs
- Hospital socks or slippers
- Water bottle with a lid and straw
- Cell phone and charger or some other way to call for help
- Comfortable clothing
- Games, books, or puzzles to keep you busy
The first 24 hours after total knee replacement surgery.
Many of my patients will say the first 24 hours after total knee replacement surgery actually wasn’t as bad as the 3 days after surgery.
The local anesthesia is still intact and much of the first 24 hours is spent resting and kind of a haze.
It is the next 48 to 72 hours where the initial anesthesia is wearing off, the sleep deprivation is kicking in, constipation and discomfort are getting worse, and your physical therapist is expecting you to keep moving.
This is when having emotional support and people around you that you trust and like is essential.
In some cases, the 3-day mark is when your pain management plan might need to be modified. Some medications are ineffective for some patients in managing pain and a quick call to your surgical team may go a long way in making these few days more comfortable.
Home Exercises for Day 1 after Knee Surgery
The most commonly prescribed home exercise for the day of surgery include:
- Ankle Pumps
- Quad Sets
- Glute Sets
What do I need at home after total knee replacement surgery? (Week 1 thru 4)
After the first day of surgery, you will start to get an idea of where you are the most comfortable. Frequent trips to the bathroom are very common. The IV fluids are going to be working their way out of your body so expect to go to the bathroom every 2 to 3 hours.
This means you will want to be comfortable using your walker and getting up from the chair you may be sitting in. It is recommended that you do not spend more time in bed than is necessary to sleep or nap. Sitting upright in a chair and standing every 2 hours will help reduce your chances of blood clots and other complications.
The same equipment list as above will likely be enough for the first 4 weeks. Some patients will also want to purchase a cane in anticipation of when they are no longer using the walker but want a little extra stability.
What do I need at home after total knee replacement surgery? (Week 6 thru 9)
During weeks 6 thru 9 many patients will be finished using the walker and cane. 6 weeks is a common time to start driving again as well as progressing your total time walking.
Many patients have also finished icing around this time so rather than talking about what you need at home after total knee replacement surgery, this phase might be more about what you no longer need.
Some patients may consider buying a recumbent or upright stationary bike, an elliptical trainer, or some other form of cardio equipment.
I recorded the following video to help you choose the best bike for knee replacement recovery:
What do I need at home after total knee replacement surgery? (Week 10 thru 12)
Weeks 10 thru 12 are where it gets really exciting. While there are still around 20% of people who have had a total knee replacement and continue to feel the same pain or worse pain compared to prior to surgery, that means 80% are better in some capacity.
This is the phase in which it is recommended that you buy new shoes because your old shoes were broken in for the alignment of your old knee.
You might also consider buying some new clothes or athletic wear to keep you motivated in your newly found workout routine.
Some patients decide to purchase a knee sleeve around this time because it may help reduce some sensitivity around the incision while keeping the edema in check.
I am a huge fan of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and in this book, Mr. Clear shares motivation tips and strategies to help form new habits. A reward is a major driver of new habit formation. I recommend all of my patients take advantage of this and reward themself for weekly accomplishments.
I asked members of my Facebook Group the following question:
“What were your first 24 hours after surgery like?
What do you wish you had?
What advice would you offer?”
And this is what they said:
Member 1: “First 24 hours were fine. 3 weeks po today.”
Member 2: “My first nerve block lasted for 3 days. I was impatient the first 3 days. And lack of beds stuffed me in a tiny corner lol. PT started the next day but they didn’t let me walk so I was wheeled down. #2 outpatient absolutely floored no real pain. Are like a horse. Was able to do all exercises. #3 inpatient 24 hours. I cried I walked the floors constantly. No surgeon no answers to questions. The hospital short staffed with no help at all. PT next day very rude people will never go back to that hospital”
Member 3: “A blur. Too much pain med. Don’t remember a thing. Learn to sleep on your back prior to surgery. Best thing I did. Sleep fine.”
Member 4: “I was grateful. Keep essentials in a basket you can grab. You are gonna be a Knee Warrior!!!”
Member 5: “The first 24: I don’t remember much besides regretting my decision to do tkr. What I wish I had: more pillows (I was inpatient for 8 days) Advice: keep a positive mindset and affirmations. I printed a knee-affirmation sheet, and when I felt really bad, I grabbed it and read it out loud to myself.”
More Blog Posts
Total Knee Replacement Exercises Week 1 – Ask Doctor Jo [VIDEO]
https://youtu.be/yL5maSn3M-gOriginal Reference: YouTube Channel Ask Dr. Jo Publish Date: Apr 11, 2016No Pain No Gain Unlike most of the other advice you will find on this website, Dr. Jo says a total knee replacement exercise is a time for punching into the pain. The...
Stool Scoots Exercise aka Chair Scoot Exercise | AMAZING Knee ROM 2022
What is the Chair Scoot Exercise? The chair scoot exercise is a great exercise for anyone who has had arthroscopic knee surgery or a total knee replacement. It is a great option for people who have had a partial knee replacement as well. It is a simple exercise to...
3 BEST Ways to get up from a Fall After Knee Replacement Surgery
How Common Do People Fall After Knee Replacement Surgery? A fall after knee replacement surgery is fairly common. One study found that "the number of falls reported following TKA ranges between 14.1 and 38.3%." Link What can cause a Fall After Knee Replacement Early...
Who Orders the Antibiotics After Knee Replacement Before Dental Work
Are Antibiotics Required Before Dental Work After Total Knee Replacement The topic of prophylactically using antibiotics after knee replacement before dental work remains controversial. Link This 2016 publication in Arthroplasty Today, suggests "Current international...
Second Knee Replacement 5 Quick FAQs
Is a second knee replacement worse than the first? There is a huge difference between the second knee replacement on the same knee, also known as a total knee revision surgery, and the second knee replacement on the other knee. As a physical therapist, I am fortunate...
3 Months After Total Knee Replacement
What to expect 3 months after total knee replacement During the first 3 months after total knee replacement, you may experience lots of changes and rapid improvement. Range of motion will go from practically nothing to 120 degrees of flexion and 0 degrees of...