If you are planning to have knee replacement surgery, you are already aware of the physical limitations knee arthritis can place on your daily life. Pain can be very debilitating, robbing you of the things you love to do most. It can also be wearing on your physical and emotional health. But now that you’ve made the decision to have knee replacement surgery, you’re headed toward a healthier and happier life. If you have a dog, they too will benefit from your newfound mobility. If Fido has been there with you since before painful arthritis, he remembers your long walks in the sun. He probably has been there by your side, offering love and emotional support as pain has slowed you down. Now, once again, he’ll be there to help you as you rehabilitate from your knee replacement surgery.
After Knee Replacement Surgery
When you have knee replacement surgery, you might expect to stay overnight in the hospital, although having it done as an outpatient is becoming more common. When you first return home, your pets will probably be excited to see you. It is important to understand that while the emotional support they can provide you as you recover is important, there should be some preparations made and restrictions in place to make sure they don’t inadvertently cause you an injury. Falling is a major risk for complications after knee replacement surgery, so all precautions should be made to avoid fall risks. Make sure pet toys are put in a secure place before surgery, and make sure your pet only has access to them in a very controlled environment, to avoid tripping over them. Additionally, it may be helpful to have someone with you who can secure your pet if they tend to get rambunctious. Nice quiet afternoons petting your calm animal will enhance your psychological wellbeing. Excitement and jumping, by contrast, will increase your risk of falls. You should also remember to wash your hands frequently, especially after petting your dog, and to keep Fido away from any bandages or incisions to prevent risk of infection. The good news is, even with these precautions, your favorite four-legged companion will not have to wait long before you are ready for them to join you on the road to rehabilitation and an active lifestyle.
Rehabilitation after Knee Replacement Surgery
You should expect specific instructions regarding activity from your orthopedic surgeon. Expect to be moving, beginning the day of surgery, but remember that slow and steady wins the race. There will be things you should avoid or be careful with. You will be guided by your physical therapist on how much and when to bend your knee, but in general the more the better. Initially, you should be taking stairs one step at a time, leading with the leg you didn’t have surgery on going up steps. You can also expect a schedule of regular exercises to be done 2 to 3 times daily, to help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your new knee, providing the strength and support needed to protect it for years to come. In addition to your exercises, walking will become part of your daily routine, and this is when Fido will become, once again, your best friend. Just be sure to ask your orthopedic surgeon when you will be strong enough to start walking your dog again, making sure you have regained enough strength and stability to avoid falls.
Benefits of Walking Your Dog
Taking a walk-a-day can be the cornerstone to good health. It is also a good way to enjoy your new knee while keeping it healthy and strong. You will find that working yourself up to at least a 30-minute walk daily will be part of your rehabilitation regimen and is something you should integrate into your long-term health plan. However, walking alone can be boring, which might lead to missed days. But Fido will never think a walk is boring, and he can be your “best friend” in living your healthy lifestyle. The health benefits of walking include weight loss, controlling your blood pressure, preventing or controlling diabetes, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system as well as maintaining healthy bones, joints and muscles. Regular exercise also promotes good mental health. Many people lose these benefits as their activities are limited due to the pain of knee arthritis. But once you’ve had your knee replacement surgery, you’ll enjoy getting on the move again—and so will your dog. Remember that your pet will also benefit from increased activity. So as soon as your orthopedic surgeon gives you the “thumbs up”, grab your leash and your best friend, and start walking.
Dr. Brett Gilbert and his staff are committed to helping you live your healthiest and best life. If you have any questions regarding knee replacement surgery, or any other problems with your bones or joints, our friendly team is here to help. To seek the expert advice of Dr. Brett Gilbert in Raleigh, Durham, Apex or Cary, who will address your unique concerns, contact us today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or you can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.