After Knee Replacement: Right After Surgery

Your healthcare team will monitor your progress after your surgery. You may receive general anesthesia (being put to sleep), an epidural nerve block in your spinal canal (numb from the waist down), or a femoral nerve block in your leg (entire leg is numb). Sometimes the femoral nerve block is added to another anesthesia for better pain control. Your team will use support equipment to help you recover. Be sure to let them know how you feel and how well your pain is controlled. You may also receive medicines, such as antibiotics and blood thinners.

Person lying in hospital bed with one knee supported by continual passive motion machine. Knee is wrapped, and ice machine tubes go under wrapping. Sequential compression cuffs are wrapped around both feet.Support equipment

Special tubes and machines help you recover after surgery. They may include:

  • An intravenous (IV) line to provide needed fluids and medicines

  • A catheter tube to help drain your bladder

  • A drainage tube in your leg to remove excess fluid and reduce swelling

  • An ice machine or ice pack to reduce inflammation, which carries cold water to the knee joint

  • A sequential compression machine (SCM) to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing and then releasing your foot or calf

  • A continual passive motion machine (CPM) to increase flexibility by gently moving your knee

Managing pain

When pain is controlled, you’ll walk sooner and recover faster. So be honest about how much pain you feel. And don’t be afraid to ask for pain medicine when you need it. Your nurse may give you IV or oral pain medicine. Or, you may have a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) machine. This machine lets you push a button to give yourself a measured dose of pain medicine. Tell your nurse if the medicines don’t reduce pain or if you suddenly feel worse.