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.

Support equipment

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

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

  • A tube (catheter) 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

    Man in hospital bed with leg in continuous passive motion machine.

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 pain medicine by IV or by mouth (orally). 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.