1. Pain - is useful, it tells you if you have done too much. Pain killers will mask this. It is not useful to be in constant severe pain, or allow your pain to get out of control between taking your medication, but a background mild pain can be tolerated.
2. Swelling - also useful, but later in your recovery - if your knee is swelling up and down, then you are doing too much. Early on in the recovery, your knee will be swollen all the time, but once this is under control, then keep an eye on it, so that you know if the joint is struggling with your activity level, as it is having to make extra lubricating fluid for the joint.
3. Endorphins - you are used to getting endorphin (happy hormone) release every time you exercise - if you push your pain barrier! A lack of exercise will stop this. You can replace it with narcotic pain killers, but they lose their effectiveness after 10 days. You can replace them by getting out into the sunshine, relaxing with friends or doing anything that generally makes you ‘feel good’.
4. Returning to sport - this should be more gradual than you hope it is going to be. You can make a schedule - try and match it to your usual training regime. So, if you normally get up at 6 and go for a run, get up at 6 and do your physiotherapy exercises and some stretches. You can make it take the full hour, if you do exercises, stretch then repeat your exercises.
5. Exercises - there is a whole group of exercises available to strengthen your knee. Some will hurt you, and some will not. Your physiotherapist needs feedback about which exercises are working for you. Sometimes it is easier to do the exercise for a length of time (30 seconds) than a number of repetitions.
6. The rest of you - you are able to exercise your upper body immediately after your surgery. You will find that your knee can throb if you put your blood pressure up by exercising, so you may have to slow it down. The throb will settle with time, but you need to work out what your knee will let you do.
Swimming is great - you can just do upper body, and put a board between your legs, but wait until your wound is checked by your surgeon, before submerging it in a public pool.
Orthopaedic Surgeon in Cairns, Far North Queensland