How To Manage Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery
This article was medically reviewed by Eric Christensen, DPT. Eric Christensen is a Physical Therapist based in Chandler, Arizona. With over a decade of experience, Eric works in both orthopedic and neurological fields and specializes in custom orthotic prescription and casting, vestibular reprogramming, and manual therapy. He holds a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Sports Medicine from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University. In practice, Eric takes a developmental approach to rehabilitation utilizing the Selective Functional Movement Assessment. He uses functional movement patterning and manual therapy to return patients to prior levels of function.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 139,135 times.
Cinese Patch For How To Reduce Swelling
The physician asked me if there was anything in particular I had done to reduce the swelling and bruising so quickly as there was quite a bit of swelling and bruising the day or two after surgery but very little 9 days out. The only thing I could think of that really made a difference with the swelling and bruising besides icing it three times a day, was that Chinese patch. Every place I put the Chinese patch there would be a square where the bruising would completely disappear. So I just kept moving the patch around to different places on my leg until most of the bruising was gone.
They asked me to bring them one of the patches at my next appointment.
My only beef with the surgeon who I think is amazing, was that he didnt remove the Bakers cyst from behind my knee. I brought that up in the session and he explained that the Bakers cyst would in fact go away. That currently it was quite large because it was draining the blood from the surgery which was normal. But that ultimately it would no longer have synovial fluid leaking and therefore it would simply disappear. I cant wait until that happens because the Bakers cyst is what causes most of the pain behind my knee. He said normally he would say anywhere from 3 to 6 months but given the rapid progression of my recovery, the Bakers cyst might be gone in the next month or two. Fingers crossed!
How Long Will It Be Before I Feel Normal
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, it’s best to avoid extreme movements or sports where there’s a risk of falling, such as skiing or mountain biking. Your doctor or a physiotherapist can advise you.
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What Should I Be Doing In The Early Stages Of My Recovery
- 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.
Dont 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 youre a passenger in a car, sit on a firm cushion or folded blanket to avoid sitting too low.
How To Take Opioid Medicine
- Take the medicine as directed by your health care provider.
- Eat before you take the medicine.
- Drink plenty of water with the medicine.
- Write down when you take the medicine and how many pills you take.
- Do not drive when you are taking the medicine. The medicine will affect your ability to make decisions or react quickly.
- Do not drink alcohol when you are taking the medicine.
- Use it only for the first few days or weeks when the pain is most intense. Talk with your health care provider for a taper plan.
- Put your opioid medicine in a secure place to prevent others from using it.
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Medication Not Your First Option
Thanks to Amazon you can now buy 500 Ibuprofen for less thatn 10$. We put medication at the bottom of our list simply because its our least favorite, but we want to mention it because it does work. Anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen do reduce swelling but we caution against long term use do to risk of impaired kidney function and increased cardiovascular event risk. Always check with your physician if you are already taking other medications to watch for potentially dangerous drug interactions.
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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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.
Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline
Most patients are discharged one day after surgery. On your discharge day, you may be able to stand and walk out of your hospital room, or you may need assistance with walking, which is completely normal. In the weeks following, most patients gradually expand their physical abilities. Every case is unique. Your surgeon and your physical therapist will coordinate to progress you as quickly as possible. Although everyone progressed at a different pace based on numerous factors, some common timeframes are:
- 3 weeks after surgery: At this point, you should be able to walk for more than 10 minutes at a time, without a walker or crutches. Your physical therapist may challenge you to go on longer walks and stop using an assistive device like a cane.
- 6 weeks after surgery: Between weeks 4 and 6, you may be able to start driving again, if your doctor clears you.
- 12 weeks after surgery: Typical physical therapy programs last for up to 12 weeks. At this point, you should be able to walk for several blocks at a time and may even be able to pick up hobbies like swimming and cycling. As your therapy program ends around the 12-week mark, stick with your walking schedule and gradually challenge yourself to walk further and longer.
- One year after surgery: You will continue to make progress for an entire year after knee replacement. By this time, your knee should reach its full strength and you should be able to return to most activities.
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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.
Working At The Edge Of Comfort To Reduce Swelling After Knee Replacement
Immediately following knee replacement, pain and swelling make regaining range of motion a challenge. The swelling inhibits movement as the knee area is bulkier, tender and just not as mobile as it would be without the swelling. And as time goes by the fluid surrounding your knee can create scar tissue, which may permanently impede flexibility if left untreated. Our immediate objective with physical therapy is to reduce swelling after knee replacement while we reconnect the brain to leg muscles, get those muscles firing, and get range of motion back again.
But what is in the fluid in the knee?Dr. Michael Moon describes the components of the fluid in his description of swelling in the video below. Essentially the damaged blood vessels call out for help from the body which sends a variety of different types of cells to the area. This is the natural reaction of the body to repair damaged tissue. Sounds great, right? Well with a knee replacement this natural process gets in the way of the kind of recovery that we actually want to see. Remember we have a new joint now in place of your original equipment. We want the body to rebuild around that new joint without impeding its function. So the fluid in the knee must be kept at a minimum to let you get ahead of the process getting you to normal range of motion before the bodys repair team gets in the way.
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How Long Swelling Lasts
I can not answer this question because there is no right answer to this.
From my experience as a PT with keenness on Knee replacement rehab, I can say that I have seen patients complaining about swelling problems for 3-6 months on average.
However, there were some patients too, who had a swelling present for one or two years after knee replacement.
Best Icing Methods After Surgery
Crushed Ice in a Bag
An easy-to-make go-to is to take about 1-2 cups of crushed, shaved ice or ice cubes and put it into a ziplock bag. You can add saran wrap to around the bag to keep the ice block more dense, therefore making it last longer.
This method of icing works perfectly well for 20 minutes on but the ice will melt faster.
Foam Cups/ Pucks
Rather than filling up an endless supply of ice cube trays and whipping through them, we suggest making larger, cups with ice. These will last much longer and have a larger surface area to ice your joint.
To make, simply buy foam drinking cups from your local grocer, dollar store, or order online. All sizes work, but we recommend going with the 10-12 oz size.
Instant Ice Packs
Instant ice packs are great for on-the-go when youre further along in your recovery and more mobile. If youre heading to appointments, out to run errands, or are in the car for a prolonged period, dry instant ice packs are perfect. Instant ice packs do not have to be frozen or refrigerated. Simply, squeeze the center of the pack and it will instantly get ice cold. These packs last a couple of hours.
Find these instant cold packs at your pharmacy or order online.
Ice Therapy Machine
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How To Get Rid Of Unused Opioids
Do not keep unused medicine “in case” you think you may need it. Having it in the house where other adults, children or pets could reach it is unsafe.
- To get rid of unused opioids, bring them to a drop-off location or to an Allina Health Pharmacy. To find a location near you:
- Minnesota: Go to pca.state.mn.us and type “household hazardous waste” in the search box.
- Wisconsin: Go to dnr.wi.gov and type “health care waste” in the search box.
Swelling After Knee Replacement: 5 Things To Know
by Kneereplacementrehab·May 29, 2020
Are you worried about swelling after knee replacement surgery for your right or left knee? Or you have heard about swollen new knees from others so much that you have decided to understand it better before you plan for your knee surgery.
One of the blog readers asked me the following question by contacting me: Hi, my name is Mary, and I am a 60-year-old person whose right knee was replaced six months ago. I am pleased with my knee replacement recovery, but I am concerned with swelling in my right knee. Early in the morning, my right knee is normal but by the evening, my knee swells become stiff and bothers me! Why is that happening and what can be done about it? Please guide me.
Does it sound familiar? May be duration will be different for you when compared to Mary, but the swelling is bothering you. And thus you are searching on the web about this issue.
First of all, let me assure you that swelling after knee replacement is widespread and happens to all patients to some extent. Swelling to any part of the body after surgery or any injury is a widespread occurrence. So dont worry too much about it.
Let me help you understand this situation by explaining to you about:
- Why does it happen?
- For how long it remains.
- How to relieve swelling after knee replacement surgery?
- Icing after knee replacement
- Warnings and precautions
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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 I Massaged My Knee During Physical Therapy
After warming up on the stationary bike, my offsite therapist massaged my knee with Free-Up massage cream for 10 minutes before I did any of the more demanding exercises.
The massage not only felt good but it seemed to loosen up the muscles as well. My therapist encouraged me to massage my knee at home too, especially before I did my exercise routine .
He recommended the product Free-Up I liked it because it worked well, was not greasy and could be wiped off easily.
Massage at Home:
My first massages were all by hand, either by myself or by my caregiver. Preparation for the massage was relatively simple.
I used a towel and a jar of Free-Up. I sat up on my bed, and put a towel under my knee. I had the Free-Up nearby.
Small amounts of Free-up are all that is needed. A little goes a long way and helps your hands glide along the massage area .
As I mentioned above I started out with minimal pressure but as time went by I increased the pressure. My therapist encouraged me to push away from the wound .
At first, I really worked the area behind my knee and my upper thigh the longest. The towel keeps any Free-Up off your bedding and then it is right there to wipe off any excess cream after you complete your massage .
I would massage my knee for about 10 minutes prior to a workout. Before going to sleep, my caregiver or I would massage my leg for about 20 minutes .
Massaging in bed also allowed me to turn over on my stomach if the caregiver was giving the massage .