Short and Long Term Recovery From Knee Replacement

Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses Short and Long Term Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery.

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Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses Short and Long Term Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon

Duration: 3 minutes, 1 second

So after a knee replacement, when you go home, you should use lots of ice or an ice therapy machine or whatever your surgeon recommends for cold therapy for the knee. That is very helpful with controlling the pain and controlling the swelling.

Most patients will have a nice simple dressing on top of the wound, where they have either staples or sutures under the skin with tapes. And that dressing can generally be left on for seven days after it’s applied. And it’s generally waterproof, and you can shower with it on.

But before you assume that your dressing is waterproof, please make sure that you consult with the nurses in the hospital ward, to make sure that this is indeed the case. After seven days, the dressing can be removed and generally you can just leave it exposed.

And if there are sutures or staples that need to be removed, they can be removed two weeks after surgery, by a physician, or sometimes by a physical therapist or a nurse.

It’s very important to do the exercises after surgery and to bend the knee despite the pain. Very important to avoid stiffness. You will have pain, and most surgeons tend to give lots of analgesics to make sure the patient is comfortable after surgery.

As a rule, we tend to give two types of painkiller: a stronger painkiller such as OxyContin or hydromorphone, which you should come off as quickly as you can, because of their addictive nature.

In addition, you may be given a week of painkillers, such as Tylenol NO. 3 or tramadol, which is a weaker narcotic, not as addictive, but nonetheless it is still a narcotic. And you can transition from the stronger narcotics to the weaker narcotics as you see fit.

A lot of times, you may need the painkillers only before physiotherapy or after physiotherapy. It’s important when taking the weaker painkillers such as Tylenol NO. 3 or Tramacet, to avoid taking Tylenol in addition.

So in other words, if you’re taking Tylenol or acetaminophen, the total daily dose of anything that contains acetaminophen, such as Tylenol NO. 3 or regular Tylenol, or the regular Tramacet and the regular Tylenol, should not exceed eight tablets per day, because of the potential risk of acetaminophen to the liver.

With time, the narcotic requirements will become much less, and you can simply switch to extra strength Tylenol for the next few months after surgery. If you still need a week of analgesic or a week of narcotic once in awhile to help you sleep for the first six months after surgery, that’s okay, but is not always required in every patient.

You will likely also be given a prescription for blood thinners to reduce the risk of a blood clot, for up to 14 days after surgery, so use as directed. And if you have any further questions, or if you have any questions during your recovery, don’t be afraid to contact your surgeon.

Presenter: Dr. Bassam Masri, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Orthopaedic Surgeon

Video Quiz ( 68 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Patients are prescribed pain killers to help deal with the pain after knee replacement surgery.


It is important for patients to bend the knee after knee replacement surgery regardless of the pain in order to avoid stiffness of the joint.


Using ice or cold therapy after knee replacement surgery does little to help the pain and swelling.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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