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Knee Replacement


Knee replacement is surgery to replace all or part of your knee joint. It is also called knee arthroplasty. The knee joint is where your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (large lower leg bone or shin bone) meet. A small bone called the patella (kneecap) protects your knee joint.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.

  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You cannot walk or move your knee.

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.

  • Your incision comes apart.

  • Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or orthopedist if:

  • You have a fever or chills.

  • You have trouble moving or bending your knee.

  • You have increasing knee pain when you move or you are at rest.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:

    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.

    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.

    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.

    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.

    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.

      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.

      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or orthopedist as directed:

You may need to return to have your wound checked and stitches, staples, or drain removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.


  • Care for your wound as directed. Ask how and when to change your bandage and clean your wound.

  • Apply ice on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

  • Wear pressure stockings as directed. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. This improves blood flow and helps prevent clots.

  • Use a knee brace, cane, walker, or crutches as directed. These devices will help decrease your risk of falling.

Prevent falls:

  • Remove all loose carpets and cords. These can cause you to trip and fall.

  • Do not walk up and down stairs. Your healthcare provider will let you know when it is okay to walk up and down stairs.

  • Use a stable shower bench or chair when you take a shower.

  • Use a stable chair with a firm cushion and back. The chair should also have arms that you can lean on when you get up. The seat cushion should be about 18 to 20 inches high. Keep a footstool nearby to elevate your knee as needed.

  • Use a toilet seat riser with arms if your toilet seat is low.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.