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How To Elevate Leg After Knee Replacement

How Long Will It Be Before I Feel Normal

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

You should be able to stop using your crutches or walking frame and resume normal leisure activities 6 weeks after surgery. However, it may take up to 3 months for pain and swelling to settle down. It can take up to a year for any leg swelling to disappear.

Your new knee will continue to recover for up to 2 years after your operation. During this time, scar tissue will heal and muscles can be restored by exercise.

Even after you have recovered, its best to avoid extreme movements or sports where theres a risk of falling, such as skiing or mountain biking. Your doctor or a physiotherapist can advise you.

Sleeping On Your Side

Some people find sleeping on their sides more comfortable, and if you are one of them, do not lie on your operative side. Also, put a cushion or pillow between your legs to provide cushion to the knee. In case you need more support, add another pillow to pad your knee to make the leg comfortable.Sleeping on the side can be painful because the leg is not straight enough. However, gradually, you can start sleeping on your side as the knee heals. But avoid sleeping on the operative side at all costs, as it puts a lot of pressure on the surgery site.

Keeping The Legs Completely Straight

You may have seen some other brands of leg elevation pillows that feature a completely straight incline, with no bend for the knee. Theres also a good chance you have elevated your legs without bending the knee if you have ever put your feet up on a wall or the arm of a couch. However, keeping the legs completely straight puts a lot of strain on the muscles and tendons of the knee and can cause significant pain. Gently bending the knees is not only more comfortable, its also less likely to result in further injury.

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How To Reduce Swelling After Knee Surgery

This article was medically reviewed by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 32,352 times.

Swelling may be moderate to severe in the first few days after knee replacement surgery, but it will gradually subside as you recover. Still, you might experience some mild to moderate swelling in the weeks and months following your recovery. Luckily, there are several strategies you can try to reduce swelling, such as following your doctors instructions after surgery and trying out exercises meant to reduce swelling. If you experience an increase in swelling, tell your doctor right away.

How Long Should You Keep Your Leg Elevated After Knee Surgery


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. Don’t put pillows behind your knee because this limits motion of the knee.

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You Had Your Knee Replacement Surgery Eight Weeks Ago Yet The Knee Is Still Pretty Swollen And Hurts How Normal Or Abnormal Is This

I would find it unusual if the knee was NOT swollen eight weeks out, and, in fact, most knees stay swollen for months, says Barbara Bergin, MD, board certified orthopedic surgeon at and co-founder of Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates.

Many patients note that the knee does not achieve a state of normalcy for nine months to a year!

The knee is a very superficial joint. You can see its shape between the femur and the tibia, where you cannot see the shape of your hip because it is buried deep within the muscles of the thigh.

The knee does not have much collateral circulation, and it simply takes a long time for the post-operative edema to dissipate.

The venous and lymphatic channels have to be re-established following the trauma of the surgery.

This is a slow process. The hip has more soft tissue and collateral circulation around it, and it is higher up in the body, closer to the large blood vessels which drain the lower extremities.

The skin around a knee is tight, where it is not as tight around the hip.

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.

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How Long Do You Have Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery

It is usually normal to have some pain after surgery, but this pain generally improves with time. However, doctors can provide some pain relief until this happens.

In rare cases, pain may persist longer. Therefore, people who have ongoing or worsening pain should seek advice from their doctor, as there may be a complication.

The most common complication is that people dont like the way their knee works or they continue to have pain or stiffness.

Is It Ok To Elevate Legs While Sleeping

10 Questions About Elevating Your Leg After Knee Replacement

When you’re sleeping, when you’re lying on the couch for a night of TV or movie-viewing, and even if you can get horizontal for a little while during the day, arrange some pillows in a comfortable formation to get your legs elevated 6 to 12 inches above your heart. Leg elevation, you’ll notice, feels good immediately.

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Why Elevating Legs Above Your Heart Is Important

People often say the level to elevate your legs should be above the heart. But what does this mean?

If youre laying flat on your back you dont need to raise your legs very high to be above your heart . However, if youre sitting upright, your legs will also need to be high to be level with your heart .

Simply put, raising your legs above heart level makes it easier for blood to exit your legs and return to your heart which helps filter toxins. Whether it be working all day on our feet or exercising, blood and fluid can build up in our legs and cause swelling .

At night we typically sleep horizontal which makes it easy on our heart to flush out blood and fluid from our limbs. If youve recently had an injury, or surgery, elevating our legs more frequently can be healthy.

According to Livestrong, to improve circulation, elevate legs above the heart level to promote venous drainage and reduce swelling. Furthermore, in excess of 45 degrees is not recommended.

Keep leg elevated for twenty minutes.

To improve circulation while legs are elevated, move your feet in a circular motion to get blood moving.

How To Prevent Swelling After Knee Replacement

May 11, 2021 by Herman Botero, MD

Swelling is one of the most common side effects that sets in after a knee replacement procedure, and rightfully so. Swelling is your bodys natural response to trauma as fluids and white blood cells are sent to the area to help protect it and give it time to heal. However, too much swelling and inflammation can actually be a bad thing by inhibiting the healthy flow of blood and fluids in and out of the area. In todays blog, we share some tips for managing and decreasing swelling in your knee following joint replacement surgery.

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What Happens If You Dont Do Physical Therapy After Knee Surgery

Why you should commit to physical therapy after knee surgery

Its important to get moving and functioning as soon after the procedure otherwise, the following can occur: Decreased blood flow to the area can negatively affect healing at the surgical site. Muscles can weaken and atrophy if they go too long without use.

Notify Our Office Immediately At 855

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Change is noted to your incision
  • Sharp pains in the back of your hip, thigh, or calf
  • Temperature greater than 101.5 degrees
  • Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Stitches loosen or fall out and incisions open up
  • Thick, foul-smelling drainage
  • Increased pain which is not relieved by medications or other measures mentioned above
  • ***If it is after business hours and you need immediate assistance, please call 855-NH-SPORT and ask to speak with the Sports Medicine Fellow on call.

    My Other Surgical Specialties

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    Those Whove Had A Knee Replacement

    With a knee replacement, you will want to be sure to elevate your leg while icing. This helps cut down swelling and inflammation, which speeds up healing. While icing, lay on your back and prop your surgical leg with 3 or more pillows. DO NOT put pillows directly under your knee as this cause stiffness . Pillows should prop your heel. When icing, keep your knee as straight as possible. Your surgical leg must be elevated higher than your heart.

    • Once elevated, ice you 15-20 minutes at a time.
    • Wrap ice in a tea towel, t-shirt, or thin cloth. DO NOT apply directly to skin .
    • Repeat icing at least 3-4 times a day. If you think you would benefit from icing more frequently, ask your doctor if this is a good idea.

    How long to ice a knee after knee replacement surgery? Its important to keep icing daily in the first 90 days of surgery and beyond. As long as you have pain and swelling, icing is a great tool to overcome these recovery setbacks.

    How Long Does It Take To Get Full Range Of Motion After Knee Replacement

    Most of your improvement after a knee replacement will take time. However, the one thing that you must feel some urgency to accomplish is getting good range of motion of your knee . Within 7 to 10 days after your knee replacement, you should be able to get your knee entirely straight/full extension (Fig.

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    How Do You Sleep After A Knee Replacement

    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.

    Why Do People Put A Pillow Between Their Knees

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    A pillow between the knees is commonly used by clients to reduce low back pain. After a total knee replacement a pillow between the knees can help support the surgical knee and balance the stress placed on the knee while positioned in side lying. The most common advice is to place a large enough pillow between the knees that the surgical knee is inline with or slightly higher than the surgical side hip.

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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.

    S To Take Before Taking Your Next Step: The Best Way To Elevate Feet After Surgery

    If youve recently had foot, ankle or leg surgery, theres a good chance that your doctor discharged you with a long list of post-operative instructions. One of the most important yet least understood tasks on the list is post-surgery leg elevation. It seems simple, right? Just prop your treated leg up on a pillow and go about your life. Indeed, there isnt that much to it. But the truth is that many people improperly elevate the legs, which can actually make things worse. Understanding a little bit more about this post-op principle will help ensure that you get on the mend faster and with no complications.

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    Bending The Joints Too Much

    On the flip side, bending the lower body joints at too severe of an angle can also result in pain and impede proper venous flow. To assume the correct leg elevation position, your thighs should be tilted at a less than 45-degree angle, your knees should be bent at an angle between 20 and 30 degrees and the calves should be tilted between 15 and 20 degrees to allow gravity to gently drain blood and fluid back towards the core. The Lounge Doctor Leg Rest is the only patented leg rest that uses these angles to position the legs correctly to increase blood flow in the veins.

    Activities With A High Risk Of Falling

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    After a total knee replacement, loss of strength, range of motion, and balance lead to an increased risk of falling. A fall can damage the prosthesis or interfere with the healing process.

    A 2018 study found that 17.2 percent of a group of 134 people who had undergone a knee replacement fell at least once within 6 months of their operation. Roughly two-thirds of these falls occurred when walking.

    Some lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk of falling include:

    • using the handrail when going up and down the stairs
    • using a rubber mat or shower chair when showering
    • sitting down when putting on shorts or pants
    • keeping the floor clear of stray toys, slippery rugs, and other objects that pose a tripping hazard
    • avoiding slippery terrains like mud, ice, or wet grass

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    Exercise Or Physical Therapy

    You will likely work with a physical therapist to perform specific exercises that are designed to restore joint range of motion, strengthen your lower body, and improve circulation in your deep veins. For knee replacement, your doctor may recommend the use of a continuous passive motion machine that slowly moves your knee.

    Should You Elevate Your Legs While Sleeping

    Prop up your legs when you are sitting. Use a footrest at work and a footstool or ottoman at home to elevate your feet. Lie down and prop your legs above heart level at the end of the day. Try lying on your back on a bed with your feet propped on the wall or on pillows to improve blood flow back to the heart.

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    Is It Safe To Sleep On My Stomach After Knee Replacement

    Yes, sleeping on your stomach, also known as prone, is both safe and an effective way to improve knee extension.


    The only real difference between sleeping on your stomach versus sleeping on your back with your leg propped is the prone position will not reduce swelling.

    If you have always slept on your stomach or partially turned toward your stomach you should be fine to return to that sleeping position.

    Some patients are concerned about the incision. If you experience significant sensitivity over the incision there are strategies to reduce this sensitivity, but there should not be any danger in allowing the knee to rest incision down on the mattress.

    Why Use The Lounge Doctor

    How to Properly Elevate the Knee after Surgery

    One of the simplest ways to achieve better blood flow while youre healing is to use an elevating foot rest cushion so that your legs are in the proper position. Opting for a specialized post-surgery pillow is a much smarter move than relying on regular pillows or cushions that you find around your house. The difference is in the precisiona good leg elevation device will place your legs at the exact right angle for ideal healing, all while keeping you comfortable as you rest.

    There is one word of caution with regard to leg elevation pillows. Contrary to popular belief, not all are created equally. The Lounge Doctor Leg Rest is the only leg elevation device that elevates the legs correctly. Its unique, ergonomic design is based on science to maximize venous blood flow and reduce swelling. It was developed by a board-certified vascular surgeon to provide the most medically effective leg elevation. If your goal is quick, safe and comfortable recovery, then the Lounge Doctor is the only choice.

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