Post-Operative Care for Total Knee Replacement

After surgery, you will use your walker or crutches for three to six weeks. After your walker or crutches, you can use a cane or nothing at all. The six week period following your operation allows for nearly full soft tissue healing. We recommend no driving until you are off your walker or crutches. If you are still employed, plan to be off work for a minimum of three to six weeks, sometimes longer depending on your job requirements.

Your staples will be removed in 2 weeks after surgery.

Immediately following surgery, a nurse will put compression stockings on your legs to prevent swelling and risks for blood clot formation. You may need to wear these for up to six weeks.

You also will be given a blood thinner medication by subcutaneous injection in the hospital and at home for a total of about 7 to 10 days. The hospital staff will instruct you or a family member how to administer the blood thinner, or it will be given by medical personnel at a rehabilitation center or by a home health agency.

Individual surgeries vary, but one of the following three options will work best for you as you recover from surgery:

  • Home health care – a physical therapist and nurse will visit you in your home for rehabilitation and nursing care. Usually, they will come to your home three times a week for about four weeks
  • In-patient rehab – allows you to remain in the hospital and receive physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately, most insurance companies and recently Medicare have greatly restricted access for most patients to in-patient rehabilitation
  • Out-patient rehab – you visit a specific facility to receive physical therapy

Blood Clot Prevention:

Blood clots in the leg veins are the most common complication of knee replacement surgery. Anticoagulants, stockings, ambulation and exercise will help prevent blood clots.

Warning signs of possible blood clots in your leg include:

  • Increased pain in your calf
  • Tenderness in your calf or inside of your thigh
  • Increased swelling in your calf, ankle and/or foot

Warning signs that a blood clot has traveled to your lung include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Onset of chest pain
  • Localized chest pain with coughing

Call Dr. Cuellar’s office immediately if you develop any of these signs.