Total Knee Replacement
Total joint replacement surgery is a safe but significant medical event. The following information outlines the general process and activities for patients having a total knee replacement. (Note: This information does not replace testing and consultation with an orthopedic specialist.)
Part 1 – Before Surgery
Once you and your orthopedic surgeon have determined that you should have joint replacement surgery, you work with the surgeon’s office to schedule pre-testing and education.
Pre-testing happens at the orthopedic office or at the hospital well before the day of surgery. This testing helps ensure that your body is ready for surgery. Testing includes a heart EKG and discussions with the surgical team to identify and address any pre-existing medical conditions. Chronic diseases such as COPD, heart disease or high blood pressure may change how you prepare for surgery, or what the team needs to do to properly care for you during and after surgery.
After pre-testing comes education. We know that patients who attend educational sessions (our session is called Joint Camp) before surgery have better outcomes after surgery and are less anxious about the recovery process. During Joint Camp, our team teaches you about the surgery itself, details of your hospital stay, as well as what to expect after discharge.
Part 2 – Day of Surgery
On the day of your surgery, check in at The Orthopedic and Neuroscience Hospital on the Deaconess Gateway Campus. Plan to arrive two hours before surgery time. Our team will bring you into a pre-operation room to get you ready for surgery. Once you go to the operating room, it will usually take about one hour to complete a total knee replacement.
After surgery, you wake up and recover in the PACU. Shortly after that, you go to your private room (most likely) in the Ortho Neuro Hospital. Later that day, your nurses and therapists will get you out of bed and help you take a few steps using your new joint. It is safe and normal to move around several hours after surgery.
Patients generally stay in the hospital for two days after surgery. For example, if you have surgery Monday morning, you will likely go home on Wednesday.
Part 3 – Inpatient Recovery and Rehabilitation
During your hospital stay, you will go to group physical therapy twice each day with other patients who had joint replacement on the same day as you. Patients tell us they appreciate the group therapy approach because it creates a feeling of togetherness, encouragement and understanding (and for some, a spirit of friendly competition).
You will complete additional physical therapy in your room with the guidance of therapists, nursing staff, your coach and other members of your health care team. The goal is to help your body recover from surgery and be strong enough to handle the long-term recovery process.
Part 4 – Going Home, Outpatient Rehabilitation
Most of our patients are able to go home a couple of days after surgery. A few patients will need additional time to recover and may go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for a period of time. Short-term rehab following joint replacement is not the same as being placed in a nursing home.
Following discharge from the hospital or rehab facility, plan on having outpatient physical therapy about three days per week. Deaconess, and our partners at Orthopaedic Associates
and Progressive Health
, have multiple facilities in the tri-state area. This allows our patients to select a physical therapy location convenient to them.
While there are always exceptions, outpatient physical therapy usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks.
Want to know more?
Check out our Joint Replacement Guidebook
. This document provides extensive details about total joint replacement surgery, preparations for surgery, what happens in the hospital, what to do once you go home, and the many exercises that are important to your long-term recovery.