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Knee Surgery: What You Need to Know.

What is the largest joint in the body? The knee. It is also the most complex joint in the body because it connects the thigh with the leg and supports the weight of the body. Unfortunately, this complexity makes the knee susceptible to numerous medical conditions and injuries. If you’ve suffered a knee injury or a medical condition affecting the knee, you want the pain gone—yesterday.

What is Knee Surgery?

Knee surgery is an operation to repair, clean, reconstruct or replace one or more areas of the knee. Usually knee surgeries are the last medical option a physician will suggest to relieve pain, trauma, or damage to one or both knees.

Are All Knee Surgeries the Same?

No. The type of surgery you need depends on the area of the knee injured and the type of repair needed. For example, meniscectomy surgery is performed on the knee’s cartilage, or meniscus. When damaged, the meniscus causes immobility, swelling and pain. Arthroscopic surgery fits into this category and requires small incisions around the knee. A camera is inserted into the knee to help remove the damaged cartilage. Other types of surgeries include:

  • Full knee replacement
  • Microfracture surgery on knee cartilage
  • ACL reconstructive surgery
  • Unicompartmental 
  • Meniscus repair
  • Meniscus transplant
  • Tendon repair
  • Plica
  • Lateral release

Recovering from a Knee Operation

The specific process of recovering from a knee surgery varies depending on the type of operation. However, with any type of knee operation, there are some things you can do to improve recovery:

  • Use Ice: Regularly placing ice on a knee after surgery helps to reduce swelling and bleeding from occurring in the joint. Ice is especially helpful in the first two weeks after surgery. You want to place ice on the knee for 10 minutes each hour for the first couple days.
  • Exercise: It’s probably something you don’t want to hear immediately after surgery, but moving the knee is important. After surgery, stiffness and weakness can quickly develop in the knee. Moving around prevents this from happening. For example, you want to add range of motion exercises between icing sessions. Once full range of motion has returned, add more weight-bearing exercises like lunges, squats and step-ups.

Should I Use a Cane?

Canes are extremely useful during recovery from a knee operation. They help with balance, stability, and weakness after knee surgery. In fact, canes can often be used after crutches are no longer needed.

Proper positioning when using a cane involves standing erect so the cane reaches the crease of your waist. It’s helpful to keep your elbow slightly bent while using a cane. Also, you want to hold the cane on the opposite side of the affected area.

Canes are available in a variety of styles such as freestanding to help with stability. Thus, choosing the right cane will aid in post-surgery healing.

Have a great attitude: Changes in mood tend to affect how well you recover after a knee surgery. So having a positive attitude will make a real difference in getting back on your feet!

Tips to Remember for Recovery

  • It’s normal to use crutches for up to 10 days after surgery
  • Passive range of motion exercises should be started immediately after surgery
  • Only put as much weight on the knee as you can tolerate
  • Try to maintain mobility in your pelvis, ankles, hips and lumbar spine to help your knee heal
  • Listen to what your body tells you each day to avoid harming yourself

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