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How To Elevate Knee After Knee Replacement Surgery

How Do You Sleep After A Knee Replacement

How to Properly Elevate the Knee after Surgery

Not well is the most common answer I hear in the clinic. Some clients will sleep in short episodes of 1-2 hours while others sleep in blocks of 4 hours. The best advice is to find a position of comfort and sleep as long as the position will allow. If you are unable to sleep in a bed, it is common to sleep in a recliner or on a couch for the first couple days or couple weeks. Some patients find sleeping in a recliner or couch allows them to maintain the best knee position while not worrying about waking a spouse.

Pillow Placement After Tkr

In the photo you can see how Ive positioned my pillows. Sure, you can simply use the wedge pillow and thats it, but as youll learn in the video below, adding 1 or 2 pillows on top of the wedge pillow can help keep the leg straight.

Keeping the leg straight when elevated improves circulation. Its also more comfortable to keep straight right after surgery when the wound is still healing.

Pain Medications After Knee Replacement Surgery

If a nerve block was used during knee replacement surgery, it may wear off shortly after being discharged. This means patients may have more pain at home than they did in the hospital. To decrease and avoid pain, patients will need to take oral medications.

The oral pain medications used may include:

  • Opioid medications, such as oxycodone
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors
  • Aspirin, a pain reliever as well as a blood thinner
  • Gabapentin, a medication developed to treat seizures but sometimes prescribed to treat nerve pain

People should not wait until their pain becomes severe before taking medications. Oral pain medications do not take effect immediately. In addition, pain is easier to stop before it starts.

See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief

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How Will I Feel The First Few Days Back From Joint Replacement Surgery

No matter how much you prepared for your homecoming, it will be an adjustment. You will likely experience anxiety and question whether you were discharged too early. This is a normal feeling, so relax and focus on your recovery.

Depending on your surgeon’s policy, you may get a call from a care coordinator. This is your opportunity to report any problems and ask any questions. You may also get a visit from the physical therapist or occupational therapist within 48 hours of discharge. Your provider will let you know what to expect and the timelines involved.

Three To 6 Weeks After Surgery

Best Chair To Sit In After Knee Replacement Surgery (5 ...
  • Continue with your home exercise program. This will have a big impact on your recovery.
  • You may continue to have pain, discomfort, stiffness and swelling. This is common and should get better over time. Continue treating with elevation, ice and other non-medicine ways to treat pain. If you feel new pain or your pain gets worse, call your surgeon right away.
  • It is common to have trouble sleeping. It may be helpful to:
  • avoid sleeping or napping too much during the day
  • create a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
  • changing positions in bed
  • avoid drinking too many liquids right before going to bed
  • avoid stress before bed. Call your surgeon if you continue to have problems sleeping.
  • You may start walking without an assistive walking device when your surgeon says it is OK.
  • You may be able to do most activities around the house if your surgeon says it is OK.
  • You may be able to drive if:
  • you are not taking pain medicine
  • your surgeon says it is OK.
  • You may resume sexual activity when you are ready.
  • A firm mattress is recommended.
  • Be the passive partner for the first 6 weeks after surgery.
  • Follow your knee precautions if you have them.
  • Visit for more information about resuming sexual activity.
  • Your surgeon may want you to schedule an appointment 6 weeks after surgery to have your incision checked and talk about physical activity.
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    The Right Way To Elevate Legs After Surgery

    Now that we know its extremely important to master the art of elevation for the best possible post-op result, lets discuss the best way to elevate the foot after surgery. Our founder, vascular surgeon Dr. Christopher Dickson, invented the Lounge Doctor Leg Rest foot elevation pillow to help curb improper positioning, which he saw often while in practice. According to Dr. Dickson, improperly elevating the legs after surgery can actually make healing worse instead of better, so understanding how to do it right is just as important as doing it at all.

    The Basics: Lie on a flat surface, such as the bed or a sofa, with your legs elevated to about 6 inches above the heart. Using an elevation pillow for feet and a contour pillow to support the head will help ensure that your legs and feet are raised to the proper angle and height while keeping you comfortable. Keep thighs tilted to about 45 degrees, the knee bent and the lower leg tilted to between 15 and 20 degrees.

    Need more info?Make sure to read this how-to guide to using the Lounge Doctor for more in-depth leg elevation instructions.

    Lay Down And Elevate The Leg Above The Level Of The Heart

    Elevating the surgical leg above the level of the heart contributes to reducing the swollen foot after surgery. As a rule, legs should be elevated while seated or reclining, so excess fluid does not collect around the damaged area.

    After a leg injury, you are more likely to develop a dangerous blood clot if you dont elevate your leg, particularly if you spend most of your time sitting or lying in bed. Prop up injured areas while sleeping with soft pillows.

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    How Do I Manage Pain And Discomfort After Joint Replacement Surgery

    Try to take your pain medication as soon as you begin to feel pain. Don’t wait until the pain becomes severe. Follow the instructions on the prescription label. Remember to take your pain medication before activity and bedtime.

    If you need to have stitches or staples removed and you’re still taking pain medications, be sure to have a friend or family member drive you to your appointment.

    Pain medication may cause nausea. If this happens, decrease the amount you are taking or stop and contact your surgeons office.

    If you need additional pain medication, please contact your surgeons office. Give at least a few days advance notice before you run out of the medication. Please plan ahead, especially for holiday weekends.

    Also remember:

    • You aren’t permitted to drive a car while taking narcotic pain medication.
    • It may take several days to have a bowel movement. Anesthesia and pain medication often cause constipation. Drink plenty of fluids and eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. A stool softener or laxative can help bowel function return to normal.
    • Don’t hesitate to call your surgeons office with any questions or concerns.

    Incision care

    Walker, crutches, cane

    Use your assistive devices for balance as instructed by your surgeon or therapist. By your first post-op visit with your surgeon, you may have already improved and changed from using a walker or crutches to a cane .

    How Long Should I Place Ice On My Knee

    Best way to elevate your knee after a total knee replacement – It is not in a recliner!

    According to Therapeutic Modalities Cryotherapy is usually applied for 20 to 30 minutes for maximum cooling of both superficial and deep tissues.

    In many physical therapy clinics the common recommendation is 10-minutes of sustained application.

    A couple considerations to determine the length of time ice is placed on your post surgical knee include:

    1.) How cold is the ice pack?

    2.) Are you placing a piece of cloth or other covering between the ice and your skin?

    3.) Are you applying ice to a part of the body with a thicker fatty tissue layer?

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    How To Straighten A Leg Easier After A Total Knee Replacement

    Total knee replacement surgery is a major undertaking.While it has the potential to radically improve your life, be realistic about the difficulty of recoveryand the time and work it will taketo get back to a functional level. One of the main challenges of recovering from knee replacement surgery is regaining your range of motion. You’ll have to work conscientiously at being able to straighten out your leg after a total knee replacement 1.

    If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

    Begin with a high-quality physical-therapy program. You cannot make a beneficial recovery from knee replacement surgery without going through a regimen run by professional physical therapists recommended by your surgeon. Set this up before you leave the hospital.

    Sit with your feet flat on the floor in front of you, and your knees bent loosely. Wrap a towel around the ankle of the stiff leg and hold the towel at both ends, forming a “band” around the ankle. Keeping your foot flat on the floor, slowly bring your heel in toward your rump as far as you can, inch by inch. Then slide your heel back out to the starting position and repeat. Do about 10 repetitions on each leg.


    How Do I Elevate My Leg After Knee Surgery

    A wedge pillow is a great option for elevating your leg after a total knee replacement or ACL reconstruction. A wedge pillow may be purchased in different sizes and heights.

    These pillows come with different coverings. Some are cotton and removable for easily cleaning while others are vinyl and easily wiped down.

    If you dont have a wedge pillow you may stack multiple pillows in a manner that would allow you to raise your ankle above the level of your heart.

    In the video below I share some examples of a three stack pillow system.

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    Sleeping On Your Back

    The best sleeping position just after your surgery is sleeping on your back. You should make sure that your operative leg stays as straight as possible to avoid hypertension of the knee and keep proper blood flow to the surgery site.If you are sleeping on your back, put the pillow under your calf and knee. This will not only cushion the knee from pressure but also keep your leg straight. If your pillow is flat, use a second pillow. You must, however, avoid placing the pillow under your foot, as it will put stress on your knees and increase your pain.

    What Should I Expect After My Total Hip Or Total Knee Replacement


    NOTE: The following is a general guide to care following your procedure. Your healthcare provider may have somewhat different instructions for you. Please follow those.

    After total knee or total hip replacement surgery you can expect gradual improvement over the coming months. You should gradually expect less pain, stiffness and swelling, and a more independent lifestyle. Returning to work depends on how quickly you heal and how demanding your job may be on a new joint.

    After you are discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation facility, there will be a few weeks before you return for a follow-up visit with your surgeon. This period of time is critical in your rehabilitation and you may require outpatient therapy services for positive long-term results from your surgery.

    In general, patients do very well after discharge. However, its important that you contact the surgeons office if any of these occur:

    • You have increasing pain in the operative site.
    • There is new or increased redness or warmth since discharge.
    • There is new or increased drainage from your incision.
    • The operative site is increasingly swollen.
    • Your calf becomes swollen, tender, warm or reddened.
    • You have a temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 24 hours.
    • For total knee replacement, your ability to flex has decreased or remains the same as when you were discharged from the hospital.

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    Actual Truths Behind Icing After Surgery:

    1.) Cold therapy will numb the superficial nerve endings which may reduce the experience of pain.

    2.) Cold therapy provides a novel stimulus for the central nervous system and may interrupt the transmission of information being perceived as threatening.

    3.) Cold therapy is inexpensive and easy to use at home. It is convenient and provides you with a sense of control which may help empower you to take control of your pain.

    How To Improve Knee Flexion


    • HOW: Sit at the edge of a table or some sort of elevated surface. Ideally, you dont want your feet to touch the ground. Place your unaffected leg under your affected leg, fully supporting it. Slowly let your affected knee bend by lowering your feet. At some point, you will feel a gentle stretch. Hold for the desired amount of time, and then use your unaffected side to help straighten your knee out once again. Repeat.
    • FEEL: If you are doing this after surgery, it is normal for this to feel a bit uncomfortable. There should never be any sharp pain, but aching is fine.
    • COMPENSATION: Relax! Use your other leg to support your affected side.

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    Physical Therapy After Total Knee Replacement

    Full recovery from your total knee replacement surgery is going to take several months. Guidelines are included which discuss precautions to protect you new knee joint, exercises that increase your knee strength and range of motion, and activities of daily living that will help you become an active partner in your care and recovery.

    What Should I Be Doing In The Early Stages Of My Recovery

    How to Elevate the Leg After Knee Replacement
    • Continue your exercise program and increase activity gradually your goal is to regain strength and function.
    • Follow all therapy instructions.
    • Resume activity as you gain strength and confidence.
    • For total knee replacement, swelling of the knee or leg is common with an abrupt increase in activity. If this occurs, elevate the leg above the level of your heart , and apply ice directly to the knee. You may continue with elevation and icing as needed to help decrease swelling and discomfort.
    • Continued exercise at this early stage is important to achieve the best outcome with your new joint replacement. Based on your needs, your therapy may be continued at home or in an outpatient setting of your choice. You will be given an exercise program to continue exercising at home.

    Don’t sit for longer than 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Use chairs with arms. You may nap if you are tired, but do not stay in bed all day. Frequent, short walks either indoors or outdoors are the key to a successful recovery.

    You may experience discomfort in your operated hip or knee, and you may have difficulty sleeping at night. This is part of the recovery process. Getting up and moving around relieves some of the discomfort.

    You should climb stairs with support. Climb one step at a time good leg up bad leg down. Hold on to a railing, if available.

    When you’re a passenger in a car, sit on a firm cushion or folded blanket to avoid sitting too low.

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    Best Wedge Pillows After Knee Replacement Surgery

    A leg elevation pillow, also known as a wedge pillow, will be your best friend as you recover from knee replacement surgery. A knee replacement wedge pillow is perfect for elevation and support.

    In the days following TKR surgery your doctor will make sure youre elevating your leg in the hospital. But it wont stop when you leave the hospital it didnt for me.

    In the months after surgery youll develop a recovery routine.

    Elevation, using the best wedge pillow for knee replacement, will likely become an essential part of your routine.

    In this article, well discuss the best wedge pillow for knee replacement. Its an often-overlooked item that will help reduce swelling and inflammation in your leg.

    Well also discuss why its important to elevate your knee after TKR, why having your knee at or above heart level helps, and how often you should elevate your knee after surgery.

    Ill share my experience with knee surgery and the wedge pillow I used. Lastly, Ill share a few of my favorite wedge pillows for knee replacement recovery. Lets get started.

    How Long Do You Need To Elevate Leg After Knee Surgery

    Elevate leg

    Keep your operated leg elevated at a minimum of a 45-degree angle. Prop your leg on cushions or pillows so your knee is at least 12 inches above your heart for the first three to five days after surgery. Keep your leg elevated if your knee swells or throbs when you are up and about on crutches.

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    Activity Restrictions After Knee Replacement Surgery

    Patients are typically given a list of activities they should not do, also called precautions. Common restrictions during this phase of recovery include:

    • No driving. Pain medications, pain, stiffness, and other factors will affect a persons ability to operate a motor vehicle.
    • No swimming or taking baths. Immersing the wound in water increases the risk of infection.
    • No carrying heavy loads. The extra weight will put added stress on the new knee.

    Patients should adhere to the all activity restrictions assigned by their surgeons office.

    See Post-Surgical Knee Replacement Precautions and Tips

    How Soon Will I Be Up And About

    Knee Buddy Extender â Knee Elevation Pillow â Knee ...

    The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible. If you’ve had keyhole surgery or are on an enhanced recovery programme, you may be able to walk on the same day as your operation. Generally, you’ll be helped to stand within 12 to 24 hours after your operation.

    Walking with a frame or crutches is encouraged. Most people are able to walk independently with sticks after about a week.

    During your stay in hospital, a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee. You can usually begin these the day after your operation. It’s important to follow the physiotherapist’s advice to avoid complications or dislocation of your new joint.

    It’s normal to have initial discomfort while walking and exercising, and your legs and feet may be swollen.

    You may be put on a passive motion machine to restore movement in your knee and leg. This support will slowly move your knee while you are in bed. It helps to decrease swelling by keeping your leg raised and helps improve your circulation.

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