knee replacement lessons

Practical Lessons From My Knee Replacement Surgery

As with our previous article, Journey to a Hip Replacement, we wanted to get feedback from someone who has gone through knee replacement surgery and hear something of their personal story and recommendations.

With this in mind, we caught up with a lady who, this year, underwent her second knee replacement at the age of 73! A wife, mother, granny and semi-retired nurse, she shared a bit of her story and provided us with a few practical lessons she learnt from the experience of undergoing a second knee replacement. We have not mentioned her name or any other identifying factors to preserve her identity, but we do have her permission to share her story and insightful, practical pointers.

Pain and My Primary Concerns About Surgery

The main reason for the total knee replacement of my left knee was because of pain, in particular when I walked and when sleeping in certain positions. The pain had continued for a good couple of years and was unrelenting. Because I had undergone a replacement of my right knee back in 2016, at the age of 68, I knew to ask as many questions as possible to get the clarity I needed for the journey ahead. This meant I was not really worried about the operation. In fact, my biggest concern was the extensive post-operative physiotherapy that would be needed and how to get adequate care once I got back home.

 “I knew to ask as many questions as possible to get the clarity I needed for the journey ahead.”

Since I mostly live on my own, to assist with my second concern of care at home after the surgery, I opted to go to a Step-Down Facility after being released from the hospital. A facility like this is cheaper than an extended hospital stay and is great to give extra time for healing and relieves the immediate pressure to get back on your feet too quickly and over-extend yourself. I stayed there for the first five days after hospital and received intense physiotherapy that really set me up for success when I got home. They also provided good food, in line with my Vegan diet, and I was well cared for. I found it an essential step in my recovery and highly recommend it, especially for those with little support at home.

What is a Step-Down Facility?

A Step-Down facility is a place that offers post-operative medical care for patients who might need or want extra care immediately after undergoing surgery, once they have been released from the hospital. It is a safe and nurturing environment where patients can continue to receive treatment, physiotherapy, exercise, adequate rest and nutritious cooked meals as they begin their recovery and adapt to changes in their bodies. These facilities are either stand-alone clinics, linked to hospitals or even retirement centres. The cost for a predetermined time is often covered by medical aid, depending on the patient’s medical aid plan.

After My Knee Replacement

Unfortunately, on my first night in the Step-Down Facility, I took a fall. It was my own fault because I was trying to be too independent. Thankfully, I did not suffer from any additional injury, just more swollen tissue. A lesson to take things slow after your operation, accept the offered help and allow others to care for you.

“take things slow after your operation, accept the offered help and allow others to care for you”

Physiotherapy is something I hated but was actually an absolute lifesaver! It is precisely the kind of specialist care one needs to recover well and “get back on your feet” faster.

The pain after the surgery can be pretty intense, however, my pain was managed well by the staff and made me drowsy, so I slept a lot, which is not always a bad thing. Sleep gave my body time to heal.

Some Practical Tips In Preparing for Knee Surgery

Having gone through this experience once before, I took a few additional practical steps beyond going to the Step-Down Facility to optimise on healing and recovery and to make things more comfortable for myself when back home:

  • I planned ahead and had soft handles put on my crutches from M-Kem. I also bought my own frame, which came in very handy at night when I was not as stable on my feet after taking medication. It worked better than crutches for me, because I did not want to fall.
  • I cooked and froze meals for my return home to lighten the burden and have something nutritious available at all times.
  • I borrowed a shower chair – this may not be necessary for those with a high toilet seat, as the more you bend the knee, the better.
  • I took out all loose mats off the floors to prevent any possibility of tripping and falling.
  • I got some help for my first week at home to help me clean and shower etc.
  • I continued with physiotherapy once I returned home, with my physiotherapist coming for three additional home visits.
  • I have continued balancing physio and step work to strengthen my knee and muscles and get stronger and more stable.

Otherwise, I have started to live my life as I used to before the operation, just more pain-free!

You can find out more about Knee Arthroscopy and access our step-by-step guide for surgery on our website. Should you have any questions or want to get started on your journey towards pain-free living, get in touch with us and book a consult today. 

Practical Lessons From My Knee Replacement Surgery