When you have knee replacement surgery, you need to be extra careful of how you move that knee. This is particularly true for the first few days and weeks following the surgery, but it is also true for a few months. Over time, you will be able to resume your regular physical activities, though you'll still need move carefully to avoid injuring your new knee during your knee replacement rehab program. For now, though, you need to take care of your knee immediately following the surgery, so here is what you need to know.
Try to avoid sitting in the same position for over an hour. Make sure that your feet and knees are not pointing in and are instead pointed straight ahead. Try to sit in a firm chair that has armrests and a straight back. You should avoid soft chairs, sofas, stools, rocking chairs, and low chairs. When you get up from a chair, slide to the edge and use the armrests, crutches, or a walker for support.
Always lie flat on your back, and utilize this time for your knee exercises. Avoid placing a pillow or pad behind your knee as your knee needs to remain straight when you are resting. If your leg needs to be elevated, keep it straight.
Don't stand up when you pull on your pants; sit on the edge of the bed or in a chair, as this allows more stability. If possible, use a device like a reacher that will keep you from bending too much when pulling on your pants, putting on socks, etc. A long-handled shoehorn and elastic shoe laces can help with shoes. Also, when dressing, always put your clothes on the leg that you received surgery on first, and when undressing, remove the clothes from the leg that you did not have surgery on first.
Install a rubber mat inside the tub or shower floor to minimize the risk of falling while bathing or showering. You can stand while showering, or you can use a stable plastic chair so that you can sit in the shower. However, you should not sit down in a regular bathtub because it will be too difficult to get back up safely. Avoid squatting, bending, or reaching while showering. Get someone to help you if you are unable to reach certain parts of your body to wash them.
Until your therapist tells you otherwise, it is important to use crutches or a walker any time that you are up and moving around. This is generally for four to six weeks following the surgery, then you can use a cane—but not until you have been instructed it is okay. When standing, make sure that your knees are straight. Take small steps when walking and turning, and avoid pivoting on the leg that you had surgery on. Always wear non-skid shoes, and avoid wearing flip-flops as they could cause you to trip and fall.
For more information, talk to your knee replacement rehab therapist.