Knee Replacement Surgery: Avoid Complications

Avoiding Complications

Preventing Blood Clots
Follow your orthopedic surgeon's instructions carefully to minimize the potential of blood clots that can occur during the first several weeks of your recovery.

Warning signs of possible blood clots in your leg include:  

  • Increasing pain in your calf
  • Tenderness above or below your knee
  • Increasing swelling in your calf, ankle and foot

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.

Warning signs that a blood clot has traveled to your lung include:  

  • Sudden increased shortness of breath
  • Sudden onset of chest pain
  • Localized chest pain with coughing

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.

Preventing Infection
The most common causes of infection following total knee replacement surgery are from bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental procedures, urinary tract infections, or skin infections. These bacteria can lodge around your knee replacement surgical site and cause infection.

For the first two years after your knee replacement, you must take preventive antibiotics before dental or surgical procedures that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. After two years, talk to your orthopedist and your dentist or urologist to see if you still need preventive antibiotics before any scheduled procedures.

Warning signs of a possible knee replacement infection are: 

  • Persistent fever (higher than 100 degrees)
  • Chills
  • Increasing redness, tenderness or swelling of the knee wound
  • Drainage from the knee wound
  • Increasing knee pain with both activity and rest

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call your CJRI surgeon.

Avoiding Falls
A fall during the first few weeks after surgery can damage your new knee and may result in a need for further surgery. Stairs are a particular hazard until your knee is strong and mobile. You should use a cane, crutches, a walker, hand rails or someone to help you until you have improved your balance, flexibility, and strength.

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