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5 Steps To Faster Recovery From Total Knee Surgery

Your arthritis has made your knee so painful that you can't walk. Now you're preparing for a total knee joint replacement and are excited about the prospect of walking again without pain. The knee replacement procedure that the orthopedic surgeon does is only half of the battle. Recovery from knee surgery takes months, and you'll be working hard during that time to get your knee back to normal. Here are some tips to get you through the recovery faster and with better results.

1. Be Patient

This might be the most important tip for you. The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons says it can take from 6 to 12 months to fully recover from a total knee joint replacement. Your progress is measured in tiny steps, not large leaps. Each time you rush part of the recovery, you risk setting yourself back a few weeks. For example, if you attempt to extend your knee beyond the range of motion for which it's ready, you stress the muscles in your knee, causing pain and swelling. This can keep you in bed for a few days, and away from physical therapy, while the inflammation goes away.

2. Set a Pace That You Can Keep Up With

Everyone heals at a different rate. Work with your doctor and physical therapist to find the pace at which you are doing as much exercise as you can comfortably. Do enough that you make progress, but not so much that you take the next day off because you're tired and sore. A steady pace where you make a small amount of progress each day is the best way to condition your knee. Being impatient and doing too much will set you back, but not doing enough also slows down your progress.

3. Maintain a Healthy Diet Throughout Your Recovery

Your doctor may have a nutritionist talk with you about the diet you should have when you get home. A lean, high-protein diet with plenty of dairy is good for healing bones and muscles. Calcium, vitamin-D and potassium are all essential for your knee's recovery. You may not feel like cooking for awhile, so have someone help you prepare meals for the first few weeks at home to make sure you get the nutrients you need.

4. Use the Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Medicine Regularly

Don't be a martyr and try to tough out painful moments when you have medication available, even if it's just over-the-counter ibuprofen. Being in pain, you may avoid doing those small exercises that are important for strengthening your knee muscles. You'll recover faster by keeping the pain under control and staying on a regular physical therapy schedule for your knee.

5. Always Be Aware of Your Knee

Once you've been home for a few weeks recovering from your knee surgery, you'll no longer need the pain medication. It may be easy to forget you even had surgery. This is the time to be even more aware of your knee. If you drop something on the floor, you may immediately squat down to pick it up. But your knee may not be ready for full squats while bearing weight on your knee. You could stress the muscles in your knee, causing pain and inflammation, and setting your recovery back a few days. Think carefully before doing anything that involves your knee.