Posted 1/25/2012 9:31 AM (GMT -6)
I had my right knee replaced in May, 2009. I'd had increasing pain and instability for a number of years, and was walking bone-on-bone.
I checked into the hospital on Tuesday morning, and had my surgery at 8AM the same day. I woke up with a bulky bandage on my leg and an ice bag on my knee. I was instructed to keep my knee absolutely straight and lie on my back for 12 hours. I had a PCA line, so pain control wasn't an issue.
On Wednesday morning they noticed I really wasn't using the PCA much, so took it down and put me on oral oxycodone. The physical therapist came in mid-morning, thinking she would get me sitting on the edge of the bed and bending my knee. I, however was already getting sore and stiff from lying in bed, so I asked her to get my walker for me. I stood up and gingerly tested my new knee. When it didn't hurt and supported me okay, I walked to the door and back - about 15 feet each way. Late that afternoon when she came back, I walked to the end of the hall and back. By Thursday I was up taking longer walks in the hall on my own.
My doctor used a "Passive Range of Motion" (PROM) machine that I had to use twice a day. It repeately flexed then extended my leg, and was mostly boring. I used that for about two weeks, starting the day after surgery.
On Friday morning I walked out of the hospital with my walker. I was able to easily get in and out of the car, and carefully go up the few steps into my house. I really remember very little pain through the whole thing.
The next Monday I started physical therapy three times a week, which continued for four weeks. Rehab was hard work and uncomfortable at times, but really important to my recovery. I used my walker for a couple of weeks only because the PT insisted (never used it in my home), then used a cane for another week, then discarded it and walked normally. After my rehab was done in four weeks I went to our local wellness center gym and started working out there.
A couple of things I did to help myself, which I feel enhanced my recovery: I did quadriceps exercises before surgery, leg raises against resistance and so on. This is the big muscle that supports you knee, so the stronger it is going in the easier your recovery will be. I also moved around a lot after surgery and got out of bed as much as possible.
In your favor, I was 60 when I had my surgery. As you're younger, you may have an even quicker recovery. Good luck to you, and welcome to the club.