Rehab at Home
While total hip or knee replacements (known as THR and TKR respectively) are relatively common operations, they are nonetheless major surgical procedures, and it takes time for patients to recover. It is well documented that better outcomes post THR and TKR are associated with three key factors:
- Good health before your operation: optimizing your bodyweight, fitness, lower limb strength and management of any other medical conditions.
- An experienced surgeon: not necessarily an older surgeon, but someone who does a high volume of THR or TKR procedures.
- Completing a rehabilitation program post-operatively.
Sequence of events
Acute care (2-7 days)
Rehab & recovery
What does good pre-operative care look like?
Traditional ‘pre-hab’ involves six to 12 weeks of low impact, low load muscle strengthening and mobility exercises. More contemporary programs also help optimise body weight and mental health. Every 1kg of body weight equates to between 4kg (walking) and 10kg (running, or going downstairs) of force through your knee joints, so taking off five kilos can make a significant difference to your pre- and post-op discomfort.
There is a proportion of people who engage in their pre-hab and achieve such significant improvements in their pain and function that they decide to defer their surgery altogether. Led by a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, dietitian, health coach, or any combination of these, this kind of conditioning should always be part of a treatment journey.
What should I expect immediately after my operation?
- Depending on the type of surgery, your health status and your surgeon’s protocols, you’ll spend between 2-7 nights in hospital on a surgical ward.
- You’ll then move from the surgical ward to your rehabilitation destination – either home, or a rehabilitation ward. Most patients are reliant on only a single stick or occasionally a 4 wheel walker by the time they leave the surgical ward.
- You’ll need strong (usually opiate-based) pain medication for 2-3 weeks post-op.