Knee Replacement Post-Operative Instructions

Thank you for trusting Dr. Wilson and The Orthopaedic Clinic with your knee!  We look forward to helping you get back to the active and pain-free life you once knew.

These instructions are to compliment the information given by the nursing staff and physical therapists. They cover many of the common questions.

Wound Care

  • Dressings are to be kept clean and dry. A small amount of clear drainage or bleeding is normal. If this is happening, the dressing should be changed daily. If bleeding/drainage persists beyond 3-5 days, please let Dr. Wilson know.
  • You may get the incision wet when showering 3 days after surgery. The shower should be brief and the wound patted dry with a clean towel. No baths or soaking the incision until 2-3 weeks after surgery and scabs are absent.
  • Staples or stitches are usually removed 2 weeks after surgery.
  • If purulent drainage (thick white, yellow or greenish in color) is coming from the wound, or the wound has increasing redness, or if you are having a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, please report these symptoms to your surgeon or the doctor on call.

Pain and Swelling

  • Ice your knee as frequently as possible. We recommend 4-5 times per day for 20 minutes per time. You may use either the ice bag given to you at the hospital or simply place ice in a zip lock bag, wrap it in a towel, and place it on the knee. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as it may damage the skin if left on for long periods of time.
  • Narcotic pain medication will be prescribed for use after you leave the hospital. Try to wean down as tolerated. These medications can cause constipation and you may want to use an over the counter stool softener. Tylenol products may be used instead of the prescribed pain medication. The prescribed narcotic medications should not be taken at the same time as plain Tylenol. If a refill of medication is needed, please call the office during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Refills will not be made after hours or on weekends, so please plan ahead.
  • Swelling to some degree is common after surgery. To reduce swelling, elevation is very helpful. Elevate the knee above the heart level (“toes above the nose”) for 30 minutes every 2 hours is a good recommendation for the first 2-5 days after surgery. Compression stockings are also designed to reduce swelling. Excessive pain and swelling should be reported to your surgeon.

Weight Bearing

  • Unless the physical therapist or nursing staff has told you otherwise, there are no restrictions for the amount of weight that you can put on your knee. You may require the assistance of a walker or cane for 2-3 weeks after your surgery.

Preventing Blood Clots

  • Moving your ankles up and down on a regular basis helps circulate blood from your legs to help prevent a blood clot.
  • Aspirin is a blood thinner that almost all patients will take after surgery. Take one full strength tablet (325mg) daily for two weeks after surgery.
  • Compressive stockings help prevent swelling and blood from pooling in your legs. You do not need to sleep with them on. You should put them on first thing in the morning. They are recommended for the first three weeks after surgery.


  • To drive you must no longer be taking narcotic pain pills (plain Tylenol is allowed). Also, you must feel strong and alert. Also, it is safest to drive only when you are able to walk well with no assistive device (e.g. walker, cane, etc) and with good balance. Most people start driving 3-4 weeks after surgery.


  • You should have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Wilson made for you before you leave the hospital. If not, call his office at (334) 749-8303 to make sure an appointment has been scheduled for you for approximately 2 weeks after surgery.