Knee surgeries can be painful and it’s hard to pinpoint recovery times because everyone is different. In general most people can be expect to be walking and transferring to a toilet within a few days.
It’s important to get back on your feet as soon as you can, but there are things you’ll need to do in the bathroom that might be different from before.
The easiest way to use a toilet after a knee surgery is by extending your knee when sitting and using an elevated toilet seat with grab bars, but there are a few other tips that may be helpful.
In this post I’ll talk about how to toilet safely after knee replacement surgery and equipment that can help.
What equipment should I use?
- Grab bars
- Elevated toilet seat
- bedside commode
Equipment you may consider after knee surgery include grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, a bedside commode, a bidet or anything else that will make it easier for you to get on and off the toilet safely.
How do I get on and off the toilet?
If you’re using a regular toilet, use a raised toilet seat or grab bars to make it easier to sit down and stand up. You can buy one at your local pharmacy, home improvement store or medical supply store. If using a bedside commode keep it clean by using a disposable bag inside.
Consider installing grab bars next to your toilet so that you can hold onto them while sitting down and standing up.
Some people find that using their bedside commode is easier than getting out of bed each time they need to use the bathroom, but it’s always best to walk if possible.
What equipment do I need to help me get on and off the toilet?
A bedside commode can be used at the bedside, over your toilet seat, or used as a shower chair. There’s lots of cheap bedside commodes, but I recommend this one. It’s way more comfortable than your typical bedside commode and you can change the position for ease with wiping.
If my leg is in an immobilizer, how do I use the toilet?
If your leg is in an immobilizer, the easiest solution is to transfer to an elevated toilet with hand rails. This may include using a bedside commode or elevated toilet seat.
Use a bedside commode if you can’t get on or off the toilet safely. A bedside commode is inexpensive and a great temporary solution. It can be adjusted to help you keep a higher position from the toilet seat. Just don’t let your legs dangle, because that can cut off circulation to your legs and drop your blood pressure.
If you can handle using a regular toilet but have trouble keeping your balance and need assistance getting up, you may want to consider installing grab bars around or near where you will be sitting.
What clothing should I wear when using the toilet after a knee replacement?
When you’re ready to use the toilet after a knee replacement, it’s important to wear loose clothing. You’ll want to wear pants with an elastic waistband because you’ll need to pull them up and down easily. You’ll also want loose clothing to get dressed.
Wear shoes or slippers at first, and gradually try to put on socks until you can do it independently.
You don’t want to lose range of motion in your legs because you became dependent on your spouse for dressing.
If you do become dependent on someone for putting on socks, purchase a sock aid, so you can do it yourself.Find the perfect fit with Prime Try Before You Buy
Showering with a knee replacement
A simple way to shower after a knee replacement is by using a shower chair or tub transfer bench. If you have a walk in shower, use a shower chair.
If you have a tub with a curtain, use a tub transfer bench and cut two slits in the curtain to put underneath you while you shower. This will prevent water from getting on the floor.
Another safe way to shower with a knee replacement is to install grab bars in the shower. Place one bar vertically in front of you for your right or left hand and a second bar in a horizontal position for standing from a shower chair.
If you have the money or means, the ideal shower should be as easy to get in as possible. That means removing any lip or step and taking out the shower door. Also get a drop down shower head to make your life easier when using a shower chair.
How to reduce swelling after a knee surgery?
A simple way to reduce swelling after surgery is to follow the RICE method (Rest, ice, compression, elevation). Continue to use ice and compression to the affected extremity, and keep your leg elevated above the heart. This will reduce swelling and allow the lymph to drain to the lymph nodes. You can do this with pillows or positioning a hospital bed in trendelenburg.
With a little bit of planning and some basic precautions, toileting isn’t all that difficult after surgery. Just make sure you check with your doctor before taking a shower and remember to get up often.
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David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.