Discharge Instructions for Total Knee
You have had knee replacement surgery.
The knee joint forms where the thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap meet. The knee joint
supported by muscles and ligaments, and is lined with a cushioning called cartilage.
time, cartilage wears away. This can make the knee feel stiff and painful. Your surgeon
replaced your painful joint with an artificial joint to relieve pain and restore movement.
Here are some instructions to follow once at home.
Follow your surgeon's
instructions on when it's OK to shower. Carefully wash your incision as
instructed. Rinse the incision well. Then gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the
incision, or apply creams or lotions. Sit on a shower stool or chair when you
shower to keep from falling.
Take all medicine as directed
by your surgeon.
Sitting and sleeping
Sit in chairs with arms. The
arms make it easier for you to stand up or sit down.
Don’t sit for more than 30 to
45 minutes at one time.
Nap if you are tired, but
don’t stay in bed all day.
Sleep with a pillow under
your ankle, not your knee. Be sure to change the position of your leg during the
The key to successful
recovery is movement with walking and exercising your knee as directed by your
doctor. You should be able to start moving your leg shortly after surgery as
directed by your surgeon.
Walk up and down stairs with
support. Try one step at a time. Use the railing if possible.
Don’t drive until your doctor
says it’s OK. Most people can start driving about 6 weeks after surgery. Don’t
drive while you are taking opioid pain medicine.
Don't soak your knee in
water until your surgeon says it’s OK. This means no hot tubs, bathtubs, or
Wear the support stockings
you were given in the hospital, as instructed by your surgeon. These may be needed
for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. If needed, you can place a bandage over the
incision to prevent irritation from clothing or support stockings.
Arrange your household to
keep the items you need handy. Keep everything else out of the way. Remove items
that may cause you to fall, such as throw rugs and electrical cords.
Use nonslip bath mats, grab
bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in your bathroom.
Until your balance,
flexibility, and strength improve, use a cane, crutches, a walker, handrails, or
someone to help you.
Keep your hands free by using
a backpack, fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.
Prevent infection. Ask your
doctor for instructions if you haven’t already received them. Any infection will
need to be treated right away. Call your doctor right away if you think you might
have an infection.
Tell your dentist that you
have an artificial joint. Take antibiotics as prescribed before any dental
Tell all your healthcare
providers about your artificial joint before any medical procedure.
Stay at a healthy weight. Get
help to lose any extra pounds. Added body weight puts stress on the knee.
Take any medicine you may
have been given after surgery. This may include blood-thinning medicine to prevent
blood clots or antibiotics to prevent infection.
Follow up with your healthcare
provider, or as advised. If you have staples or stitches to close your incision, follow
your surgeon's instructions on when to return to have them removed, usually about
2 to 3
weeks after surgery.
911 right away if you have:
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right
away if you have:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or
higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Stiffness, or inability to
move the knee
Increased swelling in your
tenderness, or swelling in or around the knee incision
Drainage from the knee
Increased knee pain