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How Often Should You Ice After Knee Replacement Surgery

How To Ice Knee After Replacement

Icing After Knee and Shoulder Surgery | Orthopedic Surgeon | Vail, Colorado

Knee replacement surgery is an intense, invasive procedure. It requires a big incision, and the surgeon will surgically remove bone and cartilage. He digs around in the knee to take out the bad tissue and then replaces the tissue with an artificial knee.

So icing your knee after knee replacement is critical to healing.

Many people will either rent, borrow, or buy an ice machine.

This machine has a sleeve that wraps around the knee. A tube stretches from the sleeve to an ice machine. The machine then pumps iced water through the tube and into the sleeve, keeping the ice water circulating so the knee is both compressed and iced at the same time.

Because you have the barrier of the sleeve, the question regarding how long to ice knee injuries no longer applies as much. You can keep the machine on your leg for a longer duration than if you had just a basic ice pack.

You will have to wear a knee brace for at least six weeks after you get your knee replaced. Even as you wear a brace, you will want to ice your knee. Compress, elevate, and ice that knee exactly like your doctor tells you to.

Once you have an ice machine like this in the house, you will find you can use it in multiple ways. You can use it when treating arthritis pain in your knee or shoulder.

What About An Ice Bath

An ice bath is different than directly applying ice packs to your skin. With an ice bath, you fill a tub with a combination of ice and water.

Athletes typically use ice baths as a way of preventing injuries. After a particularly challenging workout, an athlete might soak himself from the waist down in an ice bath. Ice baths do not have the same risk as ice packs do directly on the skin.

However, ice baths are typically therapeutic in a preventative sense. They prevent injuries. Some even question if they effectively reduce inflammation.

Still, athletes claim they feel better and recover more quickly from a workout when they sit in an ice bath for fifteen minutes or after the workout. Thus anecdotal evidence says that an ice bath may help reduce inflammation.

Knee Replacement Recovery Time: First 3 Months

For 6-8 weeks after knee replacement surgery you should avoid:

  • Any pivoting on your knee
  • Kneeling
  • Squatting

You will need to continue with your knee replacement rehab programme for at least 3 months after knee replacement surgery, probably six months to get the best result from your operation.

You will be able to progress your exercises as your knee gets stronger and more flexible. Visit the rehab section to find out more. The more you stick to your exercise programme, the quicker your knee replacement recovery is likely be.

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Homemade Ice Pack Rice Coins Or Frozen Vegetables

Use these only in case of emergency! These are options, but honestly, they wont work as good as ice or homemade gel. Rice, coins, and vegetables can be frozen and they will retain the cold long enough to ice your knee, but there are better options above.

Homemade ice packs are not created equal. if I had to choose one, Id go with the water + alcohol or water + salt. Try these out and let us know which one is best for you.

Excessive Swelling After Knee Replacement Surgery

Pain After Knee Replacement

Swelling should be expected after knee replacement surgery so theres no cause for alarm. Swelling can remain for 3-4 months after surgery and thats why icing is so important.

In addition to ice, there are a few recommendations that medical professionals say should be followed. These good practices are:

  • Compression

Compression can be applied to the knee to reduce swelling and pooling of fluid in the leg. Compression stockings go on the leg and are tight against the skin .

They are also used when we are standing for long periods of time or exercising. Standing activities will increase blood flow and swelling to the area.

  • Elevation

In the section above I mentioned how to incorporate elevation with icing. Elevation can also be done on its own while watching television.

Elevation also reduces swelling and promotes proper blood flow throughout the body. When using elevation to reduce fluid in the leg, try to elevate the leg to the same level as the heart. This can be done for 20-30 minutes and be used in combination with ice.

  • Exercise

Most importantly, exercise. Exercise can promote swelling if strenuous but it also increases blood flow and helps to reduce blood clots in the leg after surgery.

Exercise post-knee replacement should be low-impact and short . Getting the blood pumping through the body is great for circulation and you can follow up the exercise with ice and elevation.

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Insight Into Icing And A Total Knee Replacement

Here is a reprint of one of my popular posts that I continually get requests for. It contains my insight into icing and a total knee replacement. Enjoy!

Hi my favorite readers! I just found out that some patients were not told about icing after having a total knee replacement done. This is unbelievable to me.

Without icing, my knee would be so swollen and painful, it would be difficult to walk. Icing keeps the swelling in check. It also helps decrease the pain after exercising. In the hospital, I had ice on all the time.

There are a number of resources online about how to ice after a total knee replacement. One important thing to remember is to elevate your feet above your heart level. One of my favorites is by Peerwell at . Take a look for more info.

Once getting home, I iced for about 2-3 hours per day at least. I dont believe those who say that its too much. I know it helped me out, so I dont listen to naysayers.

Today, almost 5 months after my tkr, I still ice after exercising. Its usually for about 30 minutes now. I know I need icing when I can feel my knee and its warm after exercising. That means it got a workout

Prior to my tkr, I used to think icing and ice packs were a waste of time. My, how times have changed during my tkr recuperation.

NOTE: Just be sure not to ice for so long that your tkr knee skin freezes! It can happen. That is one crazy experience.

Apply Ice And Stay Calm

Now that you know how to ice your knee, you can move confidently in your favorite activities. Should you injure your knee, just follow the basic instructions and stay calm.

If you’re looking for some cold therapy or necessary aids to help with a knee injury, contact us. We’d love to help.

  • Ed Dezura

    How long can I leave the ice bandage machine onto my knee after replacement. .do I do 15-20 minutes every hour ?? Can you tell me a time frameThanks you

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What If You Freeze Too Long

Putting ice on a wound for too long can do more harm than good. As ice constricts blood vessels, it can reduce blood flow to the injured area and slow down the healing process. Ice should not be needed after the first 24 hours, unless your doctor recommends it to actively reduce swelling or relieve pain.

How To Use Ice Treatment Effectively

Icing At Night After A Total Knee Replacement – Should I Ice My Knee At Night?

Ice treatment works most effectively when used immediately after an injury or surgery , but can also help reduce pain and inflammation in longer term knee problems.

The simplest way to apply cryotherapy treatment is to wrap some ice in a damp cloth e.g. tea towel. Place a dry cloth on the affected area and then apply the ice for 10-15 minutes.

Do not leave the ice on any longer as it can cause an ice burn. It can also slow blood flow so much that the good nutrients needed for healing cant get in and the bad chemicals produced from the injury cant get taken away.

Also, if the body gets too cold it responds by causing the blood vessels to dilate allowing more blood to rush into the area which actually increases swelling. This is known as the Hunting effect.

Remove the ice for at least 2 hours before reapplying to allow the area to return to its normal temperature. Use cryotherapy treatment frequently to maximise the effectiveness.

This two minute video from ToHealth talks about how and when to use cryotherapy treatment safely following an injury to aid healing.

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Immediately After The Operation

Doctors have made big advances in pain management after total knee replacement over the last 10 to 15 years due to advancements in using regional nerve blocks, spinal blocks, and other methods of pain control.

During knee surgery, your healthcare team might either use a general anesthetic, where you will be fully asleep, or a localized anesthetic, where youre numb from the waist down but still awake.

After the surgery anesthesia wears off, your healthcare team can provide pain medication either orally or through an intravenous tube.

These medications may include a strong opiate or opioid such as morphine, fentanyl, or oxycodone, and are intended only for short-term use. Its important to note that larger doses over time can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Follow your doctors instructions to avoid adverse effects.

What Is An Ice Burn

Ice burns look and behave like other burns. You can compare an ice burn most to sunburn since it is usually superficial and changes skin color.

The affected skin will most likely turn the skin colors. Certainly, ice by itself will make your skin turn red. An ice burn, however, will look different.

An ice burn will turn the skin bright red, white, or even yellowish-gray. You may also notice a change in feeling if you sustain an ice burn. Your skin may feel numb, itchy, or tingly.

If you have a deeper, more extreme burn, you will feel pain, and your skin may even blister. At its worst, the skin will feel unusually firm or waxy.

To avoid an ice burn, put a barrier between the ice and your skin. Never put the ice directly on the skin.

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Immediately Following Knee Replacement Surgery

After knee replacement surgery, you can expect to stay overnight in the hospital for no more than three nights. Most patients commonly remain with us only one night post-surgery. The length of your stay usually depends on your doctors protocol and your overall health.

Factors that may affect your stay after knee replacement surgery:

  • Is the replacement and incision healing routinely?
  • Are yourpain levels manageable?
  • Can you perform bed mobility and walking with only the assistance of a device, not another individual?

After knee replacement surgery, we will carefully monitor your recovery. During your stay in the hospital, you will be evaluated by a physical therapist that will assess your situation and teach you how to move about safely. The therapist will review getting in and out of bed, negotiating stairs, and necessary maneuvering about your home. Your physical therapist will also help determine what aspects to focus on based on your living situation outside of the hospital. The physical therapist will also recommend additional supplies you may need after your return home these may include a walker, grabber, shower chair, and other assistive devices.

The physical therapist you work with after knee replacement surgery will also provide you with a specific set of exercises to begin your post-surgical recovery right away. These knee exercises focus on gaining range of motion and strengthening the muscles in your leg.

Does Icing Your Knee Help

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Icing is the most natural way to care for a hurt knee. In conjunction with the right type of therapy, ice can reduce the swelling and inflammation in your knee.

You need to do more than ice your knee when you injure it, though. Most doctors, trainers, and physical therapists refer to the R.I.C.E. method of therapy.

R stands for rest. This means that you do as little as possible with your knee. You rest it by taking time away from your sport or the activity that caused the injury in the first place.

The I stands for ice. This refers to the ice therapy we’ve been talking about with the ice pack protected by a barrier and then placed on your knee for short periods.

C stands for compression. The inflammation and swelling will go down with the combination of ice on the joint and then some compression material squeezing the joint. You should consider putting a compression sleeve on your knee as you ice it.

E stands for elevation. As you need to keep your injured knee elevated if you want to see the swelling go down and want to see your knee feel better more quickly.

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Is Ice Good For Swelling After Surgery

April 8, 2016 by woundcaresociety

One of the most common post-operative injuries is swelling around the treated site. The swelling might be severe and lasts for some days after surgeries. This may not only cause discomfort, but also aesthetically disturbing. Hence, many patients seek for remedies which can lessen post-surgery swelling. One of the well-known home remedies is ice or heat pack which is used for compressing the site.

Why Would I Need Surgery

Osteoarthritis is the main reason why people go for knee replacement surgery. The age-related condition is very common and occurs when cartilage — the cushion between the knee and the bone joints — breaks down.

Other reasons include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is when the bodyâs immune system attacks and destroys the lining of the knee.
  • Deformities: People with bowed legs or âknock-kneesâ often get surgery to restore the position of the knee.
  • Knee injuries: A broken bone or torn ligaments around the knee sometimes will result in arthritis that causes great pain and limits your movement.

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I Just Had Knee Surgery And Have Been Advised To Wear Compression Stockings Should I Wear Them During The Day Or At Night

Also, they are beginning to cause bruising and pain. Should I continue to wear them? I am 10 days post op from a total knee replacement.

Please call your treating physician for post-op instructions.

Please call your treating physician for post-op instructions.

You should be able to stop wearing the compression stockings now, but check with your surgeon.

You should be able to stop wearing the compression stockings now, but check with your surgeon.

Compression socks help when you are upright or the leg is dependent. So, the only reason to wear the stocking at night is if you are wearing them continuously because of difficulty doffing and donning the stockings.

Compression socks help when you are upright or the leg is dependent. So, the only reason to wear the stocking at night is if you are wearing them continuously because of difficulty doffing and donning the stockings.

Compression stockings are really only needed during the daytime.

Compression stockings are really only needed during the daytime.

Walk Frequently Once Youre Allowed

Should I use Ice or Heat after a total knee replacement?

Once youre cleared to put weight on your leg and walk, go for a stroll several times a day. Walking helps improve circulation, which minimizes swelling and ensures the tissue in the knee gets all the oxygen and nutrients it needs.

Even if you cant go for a long walk or walk unassisted, a little movement will have a positive impact on your repaired knee. Several short walks will boost circulation enough to make a difference, and youll be moving your legs even if you use a cane or walker. The goal at this point isnt to put a lot of weight on the leg to build muscle but simply to move it some.

Read Also: How To Reduce Swelling After Knee Replacement

Thoughts On Insight Into Icing And A Total Knee Replacement

  • Dennis Jackson

    I had TKR sevens wks ago, I was just about to quit until I read your articleon icing. I had my first TKR over 15 yrs ago and not one of my caregiversstress the importants to keep long after the swelling has gone down. I willfollow this advice on both knees when I get through playing golf. Thanks,

  • Im in my 10 the month of knee replacement surgery , so do I still have to ice my replacement , no pain , but there is still swelling in the knee joint !! I do my exercise, walking, & stationary bike , so should I keep iceing my knee ?

  • Hello Sammie, Thanks for posting your tkr comment about icing. As I state throughout my site, I do not dispense medical advice. I only talk about what I have experienced in the hopes of helping others. I have written about icing after a tkr in other posts on this site. Take a look around! If it is any helpI still ice occasionally YEARS after my tkr. Good luck!

  • Getting The Most Knee Bend A General Schedule

    0-2 weeks 65 to 90 degrees This amount of flexion allows you to walk without assistance, stand, and do some stair climbing.

    2-6 weeks 115 degrees now you should be able to move around normally

    Note: From week 2-6 is when I noticed the biggest increase in knee bend. It coincided with reduced swelling as well.

    3-12 weeks 125 degrees is great, 135 degrees is excellent

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