What to expect after a Total Knee Reconstruction.

May 17th, 2022

You might be reluctant to undergo surgery, but the reward of a total knee replacement that offers: pain relief, improved mobility, and quality of life over the long term, is invaluable.

This blog post focuses on what to expect after a total knee reconstruction when performed by Dr. Hannes Jonker, orthopaedic surgeon in Potchefstroom, North West. In general, about six weeks after surgery, most patients can resume normal activities and drive. Dr. Jonker applies the kinematic technique, a patient-specific total knee reconstruction approach, and together with his multi-disciplinary team’s treatment programme after surgery, you can expect results within six to eight weeks after surgery. Initially, the immediate symptoms after surgery include soreness, tenderness, warmth, and irritability. The scar may take time to heal because the front of the knee is sensitive. In the beginning, kneeling is painful; however, this becomes easier, but the ability to kneel will vary from patient to patient after a knee replacement.


Directly after surgery, you will be in the recovery room, where you will move to the general ward. Nowadays hospital stays have decreased and depending on your condition, you will most likely not stay longer than two to three days. During the postoperative period, you will receive pain medication, and make use of an ice pack to reduce the swelling. On the same day as the surgery, you move your foot and ankle, which improves the flow of blood to your leg muscles and helps prevent swelling and blood clots. Also, four to six hours after surgery Dr. Jonker starts mobilising his patients, which is moving around the bed area with the assistance of a physiotherapist. Further protection against swelling and clotting is the use of compression socks or boots and blood thinners. You will continue to increase your activity level. The physiotherapist will show you how to further exercise your new knee. Mobilisation and collaboration with the physiotherapist are extremely important to ensure a successful outcome. Traditionally on day 2, the blues would appear. But, with Dr. Jonker’s treatment, progress in mobility shows each day, you walk longer distances, and your pain gradually fades.


Before you leave for home, you will receive exercise instructions that you can do at home to help you recover more quickly after surgery. Two weeks after surgery you will have to go for physiotherapy and biokinetic sessions when treatment will include massage, manipulation, and range of motion (ROM) techniques to decrease pain and increase motion. The general swelling after surgery may peak between seven and ten days after a knee reconstruction. Keep to your exercise programme at home and balance your activity with rest. Eat healthy meals and snacks. Make sure to drink six to eight glasses of liquids each day and include protein (meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds) in your meals which will help your body to heal. You should remember that every person’s pain level differs. During recovery, ice and elevation continue to be ways that help in addition to medications. Continue with your prescribed exercises regularly and include some walking each day. You may also try ways other than medicine to relieve pain such as: relaxing, listening to music, changing sleeping positions, walking distractions, (reading, watching television, have visitors).


As before, your focus should be to continue with your home exercise program. While pain, discomfort, stiffness, and swelling are still common, they will gradually lessen day by day. Continue treating your knee with elevation, ice, and other non-medication approaches. In six weeks after surgery, you’ll have your incision checked and discussed physical activity.


After six to eight weeks, though your knee may still be warm and somewhat red, pain is usually less than before the surgery, and it will be easier for you to visualise the result. By now you will have finished your formal physiotherapy and you will have transitioned to an unsupervised exercise programme.  In most cases, you should be able to resume your regular activities. As you recover, the level of pain will fade away until you have completely recovered. Each individual experiences recovery differently, and the speed of recovery will also differ from person to person. Therefore, it is relevant to follow a patient-specific approach and personalised treatment plan in total knee reconstruction. For a consultation with Dr. Hannes Jonker contact 018 293 3474

written by Elmari Snoer BusinessBrainz


Dr Hannes Jonker, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Potchefstroom

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