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How To Reduce Swelling After Knee Surgery

How Long Is Recovery For Meniscus Surgery

How to Reduce Leg Swelling After Knee Surgery – By a Physical Therapist

Recovery time depends on the severity of the meniscus injury and type of repair that was donewhether it was full or partial. Generally, for about four weeks after surgery patients will use crutches to keep weight off of the affected side. Some medical professionals may also require the use of a stabilizing device such as wearing either a cast or brace for the first few weeks after surgery.

If the meniscus was only partially injured and partially repaired, recovery time will be shorterperhaps within one month. If the whole meniscus was damaged and repaired, recovery time is expected to be longersuch as up to three months.

Elevation After Knee Replacement

Elevating your knee above the heart level helps reduce the swelling after knee surgery and help you control the fluid build up in your lower legs.

Having a right knee wedge can make your life much more comfortable. However, you can manage with regular pillows as well.

How to elevate knee after knee replacement surgery. query into the web comes out with a mixed result, which can confuse you.

It is not rocket science, and the whole aim of elevating your knee is to reduce swelling. Just stack three or four pillows so that your knee is above heart level.

Also, avoid dangling your feet and keep your legs above heart level position for a longer time.

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Muscle Pump: Work Those Injured Muscles

In the current research, this is the most effective way to clear swelling deep within the joint. When we tighten our muscles it segmentally squeezes our blood vessels. The squeezing of the veins changes the pressure and pushes the swelling back towards our heart and our lymphatic system. Using our muscles is also one of the best and most effective ways to prevent a DVT or a blood clot in the deep veins. Some of the best exercises to achieve this are ankle pumps and quad sets, but in general, movement is key.

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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.

Fluid Retention In Leg After Knee Surgery

Tips To Reduce Arthritis Knee Swelling

Fluid retention after surgery affects almost every patient after surgery. Technically this condition is called edema. In the case of edema, the fluid becomes trapped in bodily tissue, particularly in the legs, feet, and ankle.

This condition leads to painful swelling, and you may notice one leg is bigger than the other. Edema may occur due to tissue death, circulatory problems, weight gain, kidney dysfunction, or IV fluid given during surgery.

To lower the symptoms of edema, you can follow the following tips.

  • Lower the intake of salt
  • Symptoms of infection redness, warmth, severe pain, pus drainage, red streaks, fever

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Will There Be A Scar

Scarring is minimal with arthroscopic meniscus repair as the skin is left relatively intact. Arthroscopic surgery usually results in a few puncture marks as opposed to a long incision mark. Arthroscopy involves inserting a scope with light and camera on the end inside a puncture wound and the tools required for surgery through another one-several puncture wounds around the knee.

If you have questions regarding the exact type of scar resulting from meniscus repair surgery ask your surgeon prior to the procedure.

Why Does The Ankle Swell After Knee Surgery

The most common reason for increased swelling in the foot and ankle after knee surgery is due to the drainage from the surgical site. Other factors that increase swelling in the Foot and Ankle include lack of walking, decrease overall activity, and immune-associated physiologic responses in the body.

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What Should I Expect During Weeks 6 Through 12

This period after joint replacement is a time of continued improvement. You will probably notice an increase in energy, a desire to do more activities, and a noticeable improvement in your new joint. Please keep in mind that every patient is different and will improve at different pace. If you are not happy with the pace of your recovery, please contact your surgeons office to discuss your concerns.


After your six-week follow-up visit, you will likely start using a cane to walk and move about. Use the cane until you return for your 12-week follow-up visit. Walk with the cane as much as you want as long as you are comfortable.

Back to work

Many patients return to work after the six-week follow-up visit. Tips to remember for returning to work include:

  • Avoid heavy lifting after you return to work.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Avoid activities such as frequently climbing stairs or climbing ladders.
  • Avoid kneeling, stooping, bending forward or any position that puts the new joint under extreme strain.
  • Expect a period of adjustment. Most people return to work with few problems. However, you may find the first several days very tiring. Give yourself time to adjust to work again and gradually this should improve.

Continue exercise program

Comply with all Restrictions

Conventional Treatment Methods Of Knee Pain

Elevation To Reduce Swelling After A Total Knee Replacement

Knee pain is treated in a variety of ways. Once the cause is diagnosed using proper techniques, a treatment plan is set in motion. Doctors use information such as a patientâs medical history, overall health, activity level, and comfort level to create a treatment plan that is unique to each patient. In the beginning, these plans typically enact the RICE method. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Sometimes patients also take over the counter NSAIDS such as ibuprofen. Pain is often caused by a form of inflammation, so these methods can help subside the pain.

If these less invasive methods fail to relieve pain, doctors will turn to slightly more intense treatment methods such as physical therapy or corticosteroid injections. Physical therapy seeks to strengthen muscles surrounding an injury and increase a patientâs range of motion. Corticosteroid injections are used to inject a powerful anti-inflammatory agent directly into the pain area. This is most often successful at relieving pain in the short-term but has been proven to damage tissue over time. Corticosteroid injections are not considered a long-term solution to knee pain.

After undergoing slightly more invasive treatment methods and still failing to see results, doctors may discuss surgery as an option. Initial surgeries for knee pain are less invasive than a total knee replacement. These surgeries may include:

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Malpositioning Of The Implants

Surgeons make an effort to balance the knee at the time of surgery. This means finding the proper size and alignment of the knee replacement so that the knee joint is not too tight, and not too loose, and so this balancing is the same with the knee straight and bent.

This is precisely why a knee replacement is a difficult procedure, and the art of perfecting this takes many years. Errors in the positioning of an implant may not be apparent on the operating table and only become evident when the recovery is stalled.

Newer patient-specific knee replacements are tailor-made and may reduce the risk of malpositioning.

Should We Still Use The Rice Method To Reduce Swelling

The R.I.C.E method for treating swelling has been around for a long time. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. With recent advances in technology and research, we now know this theory needs to be updated. Icing and the RICE method delays the onset of Insulin-Like Growth Factor which is a much-needed protein required for healing.

We dont want to delay healing, we want to speed it up.

The best way to speed up healing is through movement, targeted exercises, allowing adequate time, and graded activity.

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

How Bad Is the Pain after Knee Replacement Surgery

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.

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How Do I Manage Swelling After Knee Surgery

It is important to manage swelling after knee surgery, because it can lead to pain and can make it more difficult to resume everyday activity. The best ways to manage swelling are rest, elevation of the leg, and the regular application of ice. Of course, any advice or instructions from a medical professional regarding the healing process and pain management should always be followed to prevent causing damage to the knee after surgery. Medication will generally also be prescribed to help reduce pain and swelling.

While it is important to get up on your feet and start moving around as soon as possible after knee surgery, this should only be done in very short periods of activity. For instance, getting up and walking slowly around the house for five or ten minutes per hour, then resting for the rest of the time, is usually recommended. This allows the knee to begin moving and getting stronger as the muscles build back up, which will help to speed up the healing process and make eventual physical therapy easier, but it will not cause too much swelling. Staying on the feet for too long can make swelling much worse.

Severe Swelling Of Foot After Knee Replacement 7 Days Ago

7 days post-op total knee replacement. Foot is twice normal size and cant do PT or even ambulate with this 10 extra pounds of weight. It feels like Im walking on a waterballoon. I am doing cold therapy and elevating the leg as I was told to do. Anyone experience this after knee replacement??

0 likes, 18 replies

  • Posted 6 years ago

    This is just a possibilityduring surgery the sometimes have to use a tourniquet for blood loss control and this can cause temporary damage and swelling which can create swelling. I would call the surgeon and see if there are any concerns and if you can get something for relief. Otherwise, they may tell you to back off the excercise a little, elevate and ice and just wait for normal blood flow to return and pull the fluids off in a natural course of time. Either way, I dont think you are looking at a quick fix. Swelling is so painful and you feel completely helpless.

  • Posted 6 years ago

    You make a very good point in that yes, there is a tourniquet involved. That explains the bruising on my thigh as well. I have no chopice but to back off the exercises. I cant walk on this bag of fluid that is my foot. Thank you for your input very helpful

  • Posted 6 years ago

    Im 2 weeks post op and i still have good swelling,its just part of the package i think,and if you do exercise/physio then it swells even more..elevation and ice is the key thing,but it is a long road to recovery and we all mend at different rates,good luck

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    Knee Replacement Range Of Motion

    Knee swelling will limit knee flexibility, but there is also healing and scarring of tissues to consider that will prevent a knee from bending and straightening. Patients need to slowly improve their flexibility so their knee does not heal stiff, but at the same time not push too much that they are aggravating the recovery and causing more swelling.

    The normal knee range of motion is 0 degrees of knee extension to 135 degrees of knee flexion . It is not unusual for someone to have 5-10 degrees of hyperextension and knee flexion varies anywhere from 120-150 degrees.

    The expected range of motion after knee replacement is 0 degrees of knee extension to at least 115 degrees of flexion or greater, but this can take several weeks or months to achieve. Starting out, the goal is to get the knee to bend to 90 degrees within the first week and then improve 5 to 10 degrees each week after that until full flexion is reached. Again, this timeline is variable from patient to patient.

    It is important to achieve full knee extension for walking to feel more natural and have less knee pain. If you dont achieve full extension, it will feel like youre walking with 1 leg shorter than the other.

    Managing Swelling After Surgery

    Improve Range of Motion and Reduce Swelling After A Total Knee Replacement – Part 3

    As many people know all too well, swelling after surgery can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the healing process. Swelling can last anywhere from 2-3 weeks to 3-6 months!

    Most individuals do not have the time to take 3-6 months away from a potential job, and other important aspects of their life. Although necessary to the healing process, post-op swelling is one of the most infuriating aspects of recovery due to the slowness, and often pain associated with swelling

    What causes post-op swelling?

    Swelling post surgery occurs for a number of reasons. Swelling is the automatic response to injury, as a rush of cells and nutrients go to the area to start repairing it. This is referred to by doctors as the inflammatory phase. The inflammatory phase is a key aspect for post-op healing as nutrients and cells are needed to quickly repair the damaged area and fix what the body thinks are injuries from the surgery.

    How can I heal post-op swelling?

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    Genicular Nerve Block With Radiofrequency Ablation

    Instead of more invasive surgical options, many patients turn to a genicular nerve block to treat and diagnose persistent knee pain. A genicular nerve block uses anesthetic injected into one or more of the genicular nerves to interrupt pain signals being sent to the brain.

    Unfortunately, a genicular nerve blocks effects only last eight to 24 hours. Doctors use genicular nerve blocks to test the effectiveness of the procedure on a persons knee pain. Many patients who experience relief with genicular nerve blocks will then get radiofrequency ablation. When combined, these two procedures can offer pain relief that lasts anywhere from six months to a year.

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    How To Minimize The Risk Of Swelling

    Minimizing the risk of swelling begins long before you go under the knife. Being in good physical health is important for any surgery. Your surgeon will likely have asked for several pre-op tests to make sure you are fit and healthy enough for the procedure, but staying in shape will help with your recovery, too. Some surgeons may also advise taking certain vitamins and supplements ahead of the procedure to reduce swelling. Bromelain is one popular option, as are vitamin A and vitamin C. Anti-inflammatory diets rich in whole grains, plant-based fats and proteins, fruits and vegetables, and fresh herbs and spices and low in sodium can help combat post-surgical inflammation.

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