Post-operative questions about knee replacement vary, depending on the type of knee replacement surgery you have had. For instance total knee replacement on a same-day outpatient basis differs greatly from that conducted in a hospital setting. Still, many of the concerns are the same and we don’t want you to be worried with post-operative questions about knee replacement, so we have addressed some of the common concerns in this article.
Will I need blood after my knee replacement surgery?
You may need blood after your knee replacement surgery. It has been shown that if you have a low blood count prior to knee arthroplasty, you will probably need donated blood after surgery. Pre-op donation only increases your chance of needing additional blood after surgery and we rarely request this. Also, a low blood count coming into total knee replacement surgery results in post-op fatigue and lowers the chance of walking the day of surgery. Our transfusion rate in patients with a normal blood count pre-op is very low. Although the community blood bank is very safe, if you for some reason have a great fear of blood bank blood, arrangements can be made for a family member to donate blood for your use.
How long will my scar be after knee replacement surgery?
The scar will be straight down the center of your knee unless you have previous scars, in which case we may use the prior scar. Generally, the incision extends from the top of your patella to the tibial tubercle (bump on top, front of shin bone). Often this incision is only about 4 inches in length. Expect a small area of permanent numbness on the lateral (outside) of incision.
Will I need a walker or a cane after knee replacement surgery?
Most patients will use a walker for about 10-14 days and then a cane for 2-4 additional weeks.
Will I need help at home after knee replacement surgery?
Maybe. Most patients that have done their pre-op physical therapy are able to function well at home without great assistance. Importantly, our program is designed for patients to have a family member (“Caddy”), who has been with you from the beginning, help them at home. If you have a “Caddy”, many of these post-operative questions about knee replacement do not apply. For the first several days or weeks, depending on your progress, you will benefit from someone to assist you with meal preparation, encouragement, etc. Preparation ahead of time, before your surgery, can minimize the amount of help needed after your knee replacement surgery in Naples.
Post-operative questions about knee replacement generally relate to what kind of mobility to expect. Having the laundry done, house cleaned, yard work completed, clean linens on the bed, and single portion frozen meals will reduce the need for extra help. Again, most insurance plans and Medicare will not cover home care help for activities of daily living. You will have to provide that kind of help from your own financial resources if you want it.
Will I need a private nurse after knee replacement?
No. You do not need a private nurse in the hospital or at home, but if you want one, we can help you make these arrangements. Most insurances including Medicare will not cover this type of extra care as part of your benefit plan.
What if I live alone?
Most knee replacement patients leave the hospital independent enough to function at home without great assistance. However, if you are frail, ill or lack the confidence to function on your own, it may be wise for you to have an extended stay at a sub-acute rehab facility following your hospital stay provided your insurer will cover you for this stay.
Alternatively, many patients who live by themselves with no family or friends to serve as their “Caddy” do well with the short visits of a home health nurse and/or a home physical therapist who visit you at home. Usually these professional services are covered by your insurance and Medicare. You should, however, make all attempts to arrange for a relative or friend, your “Caddy,” to stay with you for at least the first week after discharge because the home health nurse and physical therapist are with you for only a short period of the day.
Will I need physical therapy when I go home?
Yes. You will typically need home physical therapy for about 1 week. After this you are encouraged to utilize outpatient physical therapy. Your orthopaedic team will help you arrange for outpatient physical therapy shortly after your first post-op visit in our office. It helps to make the transition from home therapy to outpatient therapy if you visit the outpatient therapy facility prior to knee replacement surgery and set up an appointment schedule with them. Outpatient therapy will usually start about 10 days from the surgery date. The length of time required for this type of therapy varies with each patient but typically goes for 2-4 weeks.
How often will I need to be seen following the surgery?
You will be seen for your first post-operative office visit 7-10 days after hospital discharge to check your wound, remove the staples and review the forthcoming rehab protocol. Typically the physician assistant performs this review. We will endeavour to answer all of your post-operative questions about knee replacement. Additional visits at 6 weeks post-op and at 1 year as directed by your surgeon are typical. If any problems or concerns arise, additional visits will be needed to give you the best care.