After your joint replacement surgery, you will work closely with a physical and an occupational therapist to relieve any pain, improve your health and restore functionality to the joint that has been operated on.
An occupational therapist will begin working with you the first day after surgery and throughout your hospital stay, on activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing and bathroom safety. The occupational therapist will also help you maximize your activity level and safety during recovery.
Similarly, a physical therapist will begin working with you after surgery to help you walk again. Physical therapy will help you learn to position yourself in bed, make transfers (like moving from a bed to a chair) with ease and practice exercises to strengthen the muscles and movement around your hip or knee.
Guide for daily activities:
When you walk
- Always use your walker or crutches.
- Try to walk every one to two hours during the day, gradually increasing the distance. Begin with walking five minutes every hour.
- When climbing stairs, remember “up with the non-surgical leg and down with the surgical leg.”
When you sit and stand
- Do not sit on overly soft chairs or in the middle of the sofa. If the chair is too soft, add a board under the cushion to provide extra firmness.
- Move your surgical leg forward and reach for the arms of the chair.
- Never put a pillow under your new knee replacement.
When you rest
- You should rest in bed at least one hour in the morning and again in the afternoon.
- When you get out of bed, sit on the edge of the bed, bend your knees and use your hands to push yourself to a straight standing position. Straighten your operative leg and get your balance before you reach for your walker.
- Use the opportunity while resting to prop your leg up by elevating your heel, so that you extend the leg. As long as your knee remains sore and swollen, ice and elevation will be helpful.
- Dress the lower half of your body first since it takes more energy. The surgical leg should be the first one into clothing and the last one out.
- Shoe tying may be a problem for you. You may want to use slip-on shoes. Elastic shoe laces and Velcro are other options.
- If you are going to wear pants, wear soft fabrics. Jeans are too stiff and can be difficult to put on and take off.
- Do not wash directly over the incision. Allow shower water to rinse the area briefly.
- You may stand in the shower or use a tub seat or bench. Ask your occupational therapist for information on a shower seat.
- Make sure you have a safety mat or decals in the bottom of the tub to avoid slipping. Also use as bath mat with non-skid backing outside the tub or shower to prevent slipping when stepping out.