Most Common Mistakes After Knee Replacement Surgery
We often rush the healing process because we want to get back to doing the things that we went into surgery to be able to do. And sometimes we get worried that we aren’t getting the results we expected because something is wrong with us or the procedure.
This article goes over the most common mistakes people make after total knee replacement to give you the confidence and clarity to stick to the process so that you can get the results from your surgery that will help you get active, stay mobile, and age stronger.
If you would prefer to watch a video explaining the most common mistakes people make after total knee replacement surgery you can watch it here:
Mistake #1: Not Having A Plan
The first mistake we see people make after total knee replacement surgery is not having a plan.
There’s a saying that goes:
“If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.”
After total knee replacement surgery you might need to rely on your family or your peers to get you to your doctor’s visits. Something to also think about is whether you are going back home or to a facility for a short period of time after total knee replacement surgery.
Who is going to get food for you? Who is going to do your laundry? And, more importantly, what does your medical team look like if you are going home?
You will want to make some accommodations like getting rid of your throw rugs so you don’t potentially trip over them. You also want some night lights if you have to use a restroom in the middle morning so that you can see a little better. If you have a two story house, you want to have a bed on the first floor to make resting easier throughout the course of the day.
Mistake #2: Not Taking Enough Pain Medication
The second mistake I see people make after knee replacement surgery is not taking enough pain medications to manage the pain properly.
This operation is a major surgery and you’re going to have some pain, swelling, and tenderness around the new joints. I know many of you are scared of getting addicted to narcotics or opioids that your doctor might have recommended after surgery. Just know that you can always contact your surgeon to change the medications that give you negative side effects.
I’ve never been one to tell my patients to take pain medications, but after knee replacement surgery if you don’t manage the pain it becomes a lot harder to tolerate physical therapy. You’ll probably move less and the surgical knee will become more stiff. As the knee becomes more stiff, it gets harder to move and improve your range of motion.
This is how the vicious cycle happens.
You want to prevent it from happening in the first place so that you’re able to maximize your progress when you’re going for physical therapy.
Mistake #3: Not Listening To Your Body
The third mistake that people make after knee replacement surgery is not listening to their body, or doing too much too soon.
This includes progressing to a cane from a walker without consulting their physical therapist or surgeon and participating in high-risk activities like hiking or jumping within the first month after total knee replacement surgery. You definitely want to challenge your knee under the supervision of your physical therapist, but not to the point where you have severe knee pain or the knee starts to feel unstable.
You also want to avoid falls and allow tissue around the knee to heal as much as possible.
Just to give you an example, I have patients who have both knees done and the supposed “bad knee” recovered faster than the “better knee.” It is hard to say what your recovery process looks like until you go through with the surgery.
Mistake #4: Stopping Therapy Too Soon
The fourth biggest mistake that people make after knee replacement surgery is stopping physical therapy too soon, or forgoing physical therapy all together.
As time passes, the knee pain will decrease on its own. However, if you forego physical therapy after total knee replacement surgery you won’t maximize the strength and range of motion of the knee. Most programs require 8 to 12 weeks to get you back to doing all the things that you loved to do prior to having the knee replacement.
You decided to have the knee replaced for a reason. Don’t lose sight of that goal and stick to your treatment plan in order to get to the place you wanted to be before surgery.
Mistake #5: Compare Themselves To Others
The fifth mistake that people do after total knee replacement is compare themselves to other people.
Knee replacement is a major surgery and there are many factors that affect your recovery process, and everybody is different going into surgery. So it’s not fair to compare your process to the person next to you who had the same thing done.
Your recovery, your goals, and your journey are all unique to you and your body. No two people are exactly the same so don’t expect the exact same results as anyone else.
If you feel like you aren’t progressing properly discuss it with your physical therapist or surgeon and have them examine the joint. They will be able to tell you if you are on the right track or adjustments need to be made.
Get Help With Your Recovery Before And After The Surgery
If you have any questions, please call (281) 721-4023 and our team will give you the information you need to get clarity on your specific needs and situation so that you can make the best decision for your health going forward.
At Next Level Physical Therapy we offer both prehab and rehab services so that you can go through total knee replacement surgery with less likelihood of complications, a faster recovery time, and more mobility and less pain over the course of the rehabilitation process.