4 Tips For Senior Citizens Recovering From Knee Surgery

Joan Timpson  |  August 20, 2015

Over 70,000 citizens throughout the UK and Wales have knee replacement surgery each year

As senior citizens age, their bodies become increasingly vulnerable to conditions that decrease mobility and cause chronic pain. One of the most commonly experienced diseases that impacts the joints and muscles of older adults is osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 8.75 million people, according to Arthritis Research UK. As a result of osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis, many senior citizens turn to knee replacements for relief from pain and to regain mobility. 

How common are knee replacements? 

The NHS explained that over 70,000 citizens throughout the UK and Wales have knee replacement surgery each year and that the majority of these patients are over the age of 65. As the ageing population continues to grow, this number is also expected to rise over the course of the next few years.

"Over 70,000 citizens throughout the UK and Wales have knee replacement surgery yearly."

Total knee replacement is performed on adults who need both sides of their knee replaced. It requires a more extensive procedure and recovery process compared to partial knee replacement surgery. Senior citizens often consult with their doctors to see if surgery is a viable option when they feel their knee joints are swollen and stiff to the point that they experience severe, unmanageable pain. They often have trouble sleeping and walking with ease.

Both partial and total knee replacement surgery require preparation beforehand to ensure that patients and their caregivers are ready for the recovery process. The NHS noted that being ready for recovery is important to prevent any complications that may occur, such as stiffness in the knee and infection in the surgical wound.

What can patients do to ensure a smooth recovery?

The majority of patients will be helped to stand up within 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Using frames or crutches is usually encouraged by doctors for the first few days following the procedure. After around six weeks, patients generally have the balance and strength to walk independently or with a cane. Adults should take note of these tips to make sure all aspects of the recovery process are as painless as possible.

1. Seek support from a physiotherapist
Within the first couple of days after procedures, senior citizens should consider participating in physical therapy sessions. Patients living in assisted living communities may have access to programmes with professional physiotherapists who assist them in regaining mobility in a healthy, safe manner. Those living independently can also look into joining a care home that offers respite care services for temporary help with recovery.

2. Be patient
Arthritis Research UK noted that patients can expect to feel very tired upon returning home - after a major surgery, the muscles and tissues surrounding the impacted joint are likely to feel sore and require extra energy to move. It's important that senior citizens are patient and don't rush the healing process. It usually takes over a month for tasks like driving to become safe again.

Patients should use a walker until the therapist and doctor confirm that it's OK to walk independently.Patients should use a frame until the therapist and doctor confirm that it's OK to walk independently.

3. Perform light exercises
Doctors may suggest a few light exercises and stretches for patients to perform on their own after their release from the hospital. Adults can also ask their therapists for exercises to do at home. These usually stretch and strengthen the joints surrounding the knee as it heals. Before patients begin performing these easy exercises, they should check with their doctors to make sure they aren't going to irritate their knees.

4. Take follow-ups seriously
Attending regular doctor's check-ups is a vital part of ensuring that the knee is healing properly. For example, if senior citizens are performing exercises on their own, their physicians can let them know how effective they are. Similarly, doctors may suggest a new medication if the joints and muscles are not healing properly or as quickly as they should. 

Becoming familiar with the warning signs of infection, such as red, hot or swollen areas, will give patients a chance to point out any concerns they may be having during follow-ups. 

At Sunrise Senior Living, we offer a safe and comfortable place for senior citizens recovering from surgery to regain their strength and mobility. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.