Knowing what to Expect for Total Knee Replacement Recovery: The Rule of 3s
So your warranty ran out. Those poor knees of yours have reached their manufacturer’s end of usability. Good news, Colonel Steve Austin (congratulations if you get this reference and didn’t think WWE), you are eligible for a 3rd party upgrade! And if you’re Canadian, Mr. James “Logan” Howlett (you’re a superstar if you got that one too), it’s government funded!!
But there is a catch - isn’t there always… Getting a total knee arthroplasty (fancy word for replacement surgery) isn’t necessarily a painless upgrade. Many, many, many people (doctors, therapists and clients) have said that it is best to think of your recovery in 3s. 3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months. In this article, I’ll walk you through each 3, so that the recovery cost to get your superpowers doesn’t come as a surprise.
For the first 3 days you will feel like you got stomped on by a mack truck. Like Optimus Prime saw you for the first time, went “aahh, icky human”, jumped up and down and landed on you. (Sorry for that visual if you’re a transformer fan, it hurt me too). The good news is, sleep and a healthy dose of pain meds typically gets you through these few days and after all it is only a few days.
This is where [poop] gets real, yo! For the next 3 weeks you will likely be in debilitating pain. “Why did someone ever let me do this” pain. “I’m never doing this again” pain. “I renounce my superpowers, the bad guy wins” pain. It's ok, you’ll be ok, take a deep breath, it will get better. And this the thing to realize, it will get better. As much as they suck, keep doing your stretches (Mama no, not more stretching). Yes, range of motion is a major factor to realizing your superpowers. You’ll be the crazy love child of Elastigirl and Victor Stone (3 points if you got this one). Once the ingrowth to your implants progress and your incision is almost completely healed it won’t be as bad. As long as you do your stretches!!! Cold therapy can also be very useful during this stage as well. As mentioned in a previous article, my recommendation is to use a continuous flow cold therapy system. Be sure to communicate with your health care team (especially doctor and surgeon) about your pain management, they can adjust pain medication if need be. And remember, like every superhero movie, you will get through this.
Congratulations, you’re up and about! You’re walking, you’re talking (hopefully that wasn’t affected by your surgery), you’re shopping. But you keep getting this nagging feeling that you got sold snake oil. Your knee isn’t as sore as it was a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not any better than before your surgery. You still get achy, and tired, and sore doing the things that you want to do that you couldn't before. You got swindled?!? I hate to say it but nope you didn’t. You’re just not done yet. Like a fine piece of jewelry, you’ve just reached the polish stage. Time to get all buffed up! And how do we do that? Stretch, Exercise, Rest, Repeat!!! “Oh c'mon Andy; stretching, resting and now you’ve added in exercise.” Yup sorry, you’re not running, leaping and lifting like a superhero without a little training. Just be thankful your physical therapist isn’t pulling out the laser beams of death, because I am convinced that they have those stashed in the back room somewhere.
Pain management will still be key at this time as well. I have had a lot of clients express that getting to sleep (sweet, sweet sleep) is particularly tough as that is when your knee will get most achy. This is where a continuous flow cold therapy system can help dull the pain in your knee as you doze off and drift from Midgard to Asgard. Once again, your doctors will instruct you on pain management and medication if it is needed at this time as well.
Like a Ninja
BOOM!! You’ve made it! You’re a superhero! Ha, I wish it was like that. It would make my job much more exciting. Here is the typical scenario. You’ll have a great day doing what you love, out and about, being active and at the end of the day with your favorite beverage in hand you'll notice “Hey, I feel great!! I should be way more sore than I am now?!?”. And that’s it superpower discovered. I know it's rather anticlimactic, right? Just one day you notice that your knee feels great and it continues to do so.
So stick with it, fight and grit your teeth through your recovery and rehabilitation. And if there is anything that we can help with, you can come find us at CapitalMedicalSupply.ca. Think of us as the Edna “E” Mode to your superhero origins story!