FAQ Knee Surgery


What if my leg swells after surgery?

It is very common to experience swelling after surgery. Sometimes, you will not swell until several days after your surgery. Remember that your body is healing from the surgery and some swelling is normal. The more activities and physical therapy you perform, the more swelling you may experience.

With that said, we do want you to remain active and participate in therapy. But, when sitting and resting, you can decrease the swelling by elevating your surgical leg and using ice. It is important to elevate your leg, with your knee above the level of your heart, 4-5 times a day for 15-30 minutes each time to help reduce your swelling. Your toes should be above your nose!

You should be alarmed if you have swelling for several days that is accompanied by redness and heat or coolness in your surgical leg, or if the swelling does not resolve after elevating. If this is the case, please contact Dr. Berger’s office.

Will I have bruising after surgery?

Yes, you will have some degree of bruising after surgery, but everyone is different. Some will only experience redness around the incision; others will have bruising down the entire leg. Both are considered normal and will resolve over 10-14 days.

What should I expect my activity level to be?

Every patient is different. Every day you should be increasing your activity level, but let your pain level and swelling be your guide. You will make 90 percent of your recovery in the first four to six weeks, and the remaining ten percent will come within the next year.

At some point, most patients overdo with activities and therefore take a few steps back in their recovery. You may have increased swelling or discomfort if this happens. You need to become concerned if you cannot control your pain with rest and pain medications, or if you have difficulty bearing weight through your surgical leg.

What if I am having problems sleeping?

Make sure that your pain is well controlled throughout the day. During the day be careful about taking naps. Try to plan your activities as near normal as possible. If you continue to have issues, please call one of the nurses to discuss.

How much weight can I put through my leg after surgery?

Put as much weight as you can tolerate through your surgical leg immediately after surgery. The term is “weight bearing as tolerated.” Your physical therapist will instruct you on how to use your crutches or cane in order to perform this properly.

When can I shower or bathe?

You can shower the day after surgery. To ensure that your incision heals properly, we do not want you to bathe or get into a swimming pool for 10 days. If you have scabs on your incision after that time, you may not get into a pool until it is healed.

What about using a hot tub or whirlpool?

Because of the heat and bacteria in the water, we do not want you to use a hot tub or whirlpool for six weeks.

How long do I have to wear the stockings?

You should wear them for three weeks. During the three weeks you must wear the stockings during the day, but may remove them at night. These should be worn on both legs after surgery. You will be issued an extra pair before you are discharged from the hospital.

I just had a knee replacement. What positions can I sleep in?

You may sleep in any position you are comfortable in. Ensure that your leg is kept in a straight position without anything under your knee.

When can I restart the meds I was told to stop prior to surgery?

Usually as soon as you are discharged from the hospital, but check with Dr. Berger’s office if there are any medications in question.

Now that I am no longer requiring narcotic pain medication, what can I take if I should experience discomfort?

You may take Tylenol or Extra-Strength Tylenol. Because you are already taking an anti-inflammatory (Voltaren), you may not take over the counter medications, such as Advil or Aleve (Ibuprofen).

What should I do if I think my joint is infected?

As stated above, you will experience some bruising and swelling after surgery. In addition, you may notice a small amount of yellowish or pinkish drainage. You should contact the office if you have a large amount of drainage that has saturated through your clothing, if the drainage is yellowish/cloudy or if you are running a consistent temperature of 101.5, or if you have a new onset of pain that is not controlled by your pain medications. These symptoms do not mean that you are infected, but are symptoms we should be notified of.

What should I do to avoid constipation?

You should start your stool softener (Senokot) two days before surgery and continue it twice daily until you have a normal bowel movement or while taking narcotic pain medication. If you are traveling from out of town start the stool softener once you get to Chicago. Stop the stool softener if you start to experience loose or watery stools. If you continue to have symptoms of constipation you can take Milk of Magnesia, which is a mild oral laxative, or use Magnesium Citrate, which is much stronger. In addition, you can also try Dulcolax suppositories or a Fleets enema. All of these medications can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy.

Is it normal to hear clicking in my knee after surgery?

You may hear clicking in the knee after surgery and this is normal. It is usually more noticeable after surgery when you have swelling. As the swelling decreases the clicking may become less noticeable.

Will I be able to kneel after surgery?

You will be able to kneel after surgery. Although it will not damage the prosthesis to kneel, many patients find it mildly uncomfortable to do so. We always recommend placing a cushion under your knee to help alleviate the discomfort.

When should I take antibiotics? Who will give me the antibiotics? How long should I take the antibiotics? You should take antibiotics before the following procedures:

  • ANY dental procedure, including teeth cleanings
  • Sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy
  • Any infection
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Liver biopsy
  • Genitourinary Instrumentation
  • Prostrate and bladder surgery
  • Kidney surgery
  • Vaginal exams and GYN surgery
  • Barium enema

Please contact the office to obtain the antibiotic from Dr. Berger. You will receive either Amoxicillin or Clindamycin, and the dosage is four tablets one hour prior to the procedure. Do not schedule any of the above appointments starting 3 weeks before surgery up until 3 months after surgery. This is a lifelong precaution.

When to call Dr. Berger’s office:

  • Fever above 101.5 consistently
  • Increased drainage or swelling
  • Pain not controlled by pain medication
  • Inability to bear weight on your operative leg
  • Severe insomnia
  • Swelling in foot or calf that is accompanied by coolness or decreased sensation in foot
  • Confusion or disorientation

Outpatient Hip and Knee Replacement • www.outpatienthipandknee.com • 1611 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60612 • 312-432-2557