Caregivers Guide to Knee Replacement

Your Role as a Caregiver is Very Important

Prepare for the patient's return home from knee replacement surgery. This will make it easier on the patient and their recovery process.

Home Safety and Avoiding Falls

Below is a list of helpful tips to make recovery at home as comfortable and easy for the patient as possible:

  • Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting
  • Cover slippery surfaces with firmly anchored carpets or non-skid backs
  • Place regularly used items in easy-to-reach locations
  • Widen furniture paths to accommodate for walking devices
  • Place frequently used cooking supplies where they can be reached without too much bending
  • Be aware of all floor hazards such as uneven surfaces, pets, etc.
  • Keep electrical cords out of pathways and do not run wires under rugs
  • The patient should not be performing any heavy lifting for the first three months after surgery and then only with their doctor’s permission

Body Changes

The patient will experience some bodily changes after knee replacement surgery. Their appetite may be poor, so make sure that they are drinking plenty of fluids. The patient’s appetite will return a few weeks after surgery. The patient may have difficulty sleeping. Do not allow too much sleeping or napping throughout the day. Also, the patient’s energy level will be decreased for the first month after surgery.

Incision Care

It is important to properly care for the wound. Keep the incision dry and covered with a light dressing until the stitches or staples are removed, which is typically 10 to 14 days after surgery. The patient may shower seven days following surgery, unless otherwise instructed. Remember to re-apply dressing after shower. Notify the surgeon if there is increased drainage, redness, pain, odor, or heat around the incision. It is important to call the surgeon if the patient’s temperature exceeds 100.5°F.

Controlling Discomfort

Pain medication should be administered 30 minutes before physical therapy sessions. The patient should gradually wean from prescription medication to over-the-counter. Try to have the patient change position every 45 minutes throughout the day. Heat or cold treatments may provide short-term relief from pain and stiffness. Use ice for pain control, but do not exceed 20 minutes at a time per hour. Heat will assist in relaxing muscles.