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.
What Not To Do After Knee Replacement Surgery
As a Physical Therapist, I work with patients in all stages of their knee replacement. We do our best to instruct our patients on what to do, but there are a few things that you should not do after knee replacement surgery. Here are the top 7 things you should not do after a knee replacement surgery.
Millard Foam Leg Elevator W/ Washable Cover
This is a unique leg wedge that will actually hold your leg in place. I like the structure of this leg elevator and the fact that it is specialized for 1 leg.
Sometimes its nice to have both legs raised but this takes up less space and is perfect for a single leg. If you have 2 TKRs you can buy 2.
Millard the leg elevator also has a washable velour cover . Inside the foam is polyurethane with a 45 degree angled thigh ramp.
It measures 32 x 13 x 9.5 inches and weighs 4.3 pounds, making it wide and sturdy enough to hold the largest of legs.
Customers commented that it worked great for post-operations and solid for people over 6 feet tall. The reviews are superb and I like that it holds the leg in place.
When I was using regular pillows my leg often fell off the pillows. I was constantly readjusting pillows to keep my leg on top.
This is the one Id get if I had surgery again.
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Pillow Under Knees After Hip Replacement
If you have recently had hip replacement surgery, your doctor may recommend that you place a pillow under your knees when you sleep. This helps to take pressure off of your new hip and can aid in your recovery. You may also find that sleeping with a pillow under your knees helps to relieve pain and stiffness in your hips and legs.
Dont Put A Pillow Under Your Knee After Surgery
It may appear to be a good idea to put a pillow under your knee after surgery. This, however, should not be done. If you place a pillow under your knee, it would allow your knee to stay slightly flexed, which could cause contractures and restrict how far your knee can continue to grow. Place the pillow beneath your calf and knee while sleeping on your back. You will not only be able to keep your knee straight, but you will also be able to relieve pressure on the knee. Arrange a pillow between your knees so you can sleep on your back. Avoid crossing your surgical leg in the middle of your body. If you sleep on your non-operative side, keep your legs pillowed. It is not a good idea to bend your knees.
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Sleeping After Hip Surgery
- Sleep on your back with a pillow between your knees. Avoid crossing your surgical leg across the middle of your body.
- Sleep on your non-operative side with pillows between your legs. Avoid bending your knees.
- Sleep with pillows under your knees.
- Turn or twist your leg or toes inward.
- Cross your legs and ankles.
How Often Should I Elevate My Knee Using A Pillow
Literature discussing how often to elevate ones knee after TKR varies. You and your doctor will make the ultimate decision. However, Ive read anywhere from 1-6 times a day after surgery for approximately 20 minutes.
3-4 times per day in the days following TKR is a reasonable amount that will help reduce inflammation. Youll experience pain the first two weeks after surgery but soon youll be feeling much better. Its wise to continue elevating your knee a few times a day, especially in the afternoon if youve been active during the day.
I had a favorite recliner where Id elevate and ice my knee while watching the evening news. Icing and elevating the leg at the same time kills 2 birds with one stone they complement each other but make sure you dont ice too long .
This routine worked well for me as I recovered. It helped prepare me to sleep with less swelling so Id wake up more refreshed the following day.
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Where Do You Put A Pillow After Total Knee Replacement Knee Surgery
There are two main ways to position a pillow after total knee replacement surgery.
To maximize knee extension range of motion the pillow or stack of pillows would be placed under the patients ankle. The back of the knee would not contact the pillow or bed surface.
A far more comfortable way to place a pillow under your leg while sleeping is to turn the pillow parallel with your leg and have the full surface of the pillow support the full backside of your leg.
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 your 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.
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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.
Should I Use A Knee Pillow
If you find that youve been experiencing back and joint pain, you should give sleeping with a knee pillow a try. It might do wonders in terms of relieving the pressure on your pain points. If you are feeling concerned about your spine alignment, you could also benefit from using this type of product.
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Side Sleepers & Back Sleepers
If you like sleeping on your side, waking up feeling rested can be a true challenge. Your knees can bump into each other, and that leads to friction.
Back sleepers have different issues. In theory, they should maintain the correct spine alignment throughout the night. However, that doesnt necessarily happen, and depending on how you keep your legs as you sleep, you could apply tension on your lower back. For back sleepers, a knee pillow that comes with adjustable straps would be the most effective one. This feature would make it remain in one place and keep the sleepers leg at the same distance from each other.
Maximize Range Of Motion
Having a dedicated rehab practice in place that promotes knee extension will give your patients the tools to maximize their efforts and gain range of motion back. The faster range of motion is regained, the faster they will be back on your feet fully recovered. Failure to practice extension within the first few weeks of recovery, could set back the recovery and cause long-term adverse effects to the knee. Gaining back full range of motion is part of the road to recovery, it doesnt happen overnight, and a tool like the Knee Buddy to provides proper alignment and healing.
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How Can I Elevate My Knee While Sleeping
First, elevating your knee for long periods of time is not recommended. Elevating your knee for short periods of time can help with swelling, but shouldnât be done for sleeping.
Two pillows, or a wedge-shaped foam block, will under your calf will often provide an elevated position for the knee. Raising your leg above your heart while lying on you back will aid in swelling. Remember to place the pillow under the calf.
If the pillows are not stable enough, or you need to raise the foot and ankle region higher, a wedge shaped foam block can also help. The tall edge of the wedge would be placed by the heel and support pillows would be used under the calf, knee, and hip area to prevent undue knee extension. Again, we wouldnât recommend this position for a full nights rest, but it can greatly aid in reducing swelling.
Guidelines To Protect Your New Knee Joint
It is very important to KEEP YOUR KNEE STRAIGHT WHILE RESTING, never place a pillow under the back of your knee. Place your heel on a rolled up towel, ottoman, or chair so air is under the knee, push the knee down in extension. This is the most important stretch or exercise after knee replacement, this will help you regain full extension.
We encourage you to walk, get outside, and work on your motion. We strongly encourage the use of ice for the first few weeks after surgery. You will receive a polar care or ice machine which cools the knee which is particularly helpful after therapy.
Lying in Bed: You may lie on either side. Remember never to put a pillow under your knee. Keep your knee out straight while lying down.
Sitting in a Chair: Use a firm, sturdy chair with arm rests.Allow your foot to rest on the floor if you can. Use a cushion or pillow to raise you up, if needed, to facilitate getting out of the chair.
Walking: YOU MAY PLACE ALL OF YOUR WEIGHT ON YOUR KNEE. The physical therapist will teach you to use a walker or crutches when you walk until your knee heals. Most people are walking normally after 3 weeks. Most only use crutches to provide balance and to ensure a normal gait in the first few weeks of recovery. Once a normal gait is established you may discontinue using your crutches, cane, or walker.
Your balance might be shaky for a while, we recommend that you:
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Speed Up Recovery Time
Measurements of knee extension and flexion are key metrics in determining how fast they are regaining normal movement. These metrics are dependent on reducing edema, and having a dedicated knee extension practice in place. With consistency, they will leave behind stiffness, soreness and immobility. A product designed specifically for their goals like the Knee Buddy will give your patients the tools to succeed during your recovery and speed up the process.
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Knee Buddy Home Care Procedures And Benefits
The Knee Buddy can be useful following several types of knee surgery. Its unique design has been shown to significantly aid in the successful recovery from total knee arthroscopy, knee replacement, ACL reconstruction, and other knee surgeries.
The purpose of the Knee Buddy is to provide your patients with a multi-functional product that is vital for your recovery by allowing them to elevate their leg, and also allows for full extension of the knee. These two concepts bundled together have the following benefits:
1 Effectively controls edema
2 Increases range of motion postoperatively
3 Speed up recovery time
4 Stabilizing the knee during rehab
5 Can reduce pain medication consumption
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Reasons Why Youre Not Sleeping At Night
Depending on the stage of recovery youre in, there may be a few things contributing to your lack of sleep. Pain is a likely underlying reason youre awake at night. In addition to the pain culprit, there are other contributors that are creating your perfect storm of sleeplessness. Lets break em all down.
When will I start sleeping again? Theres no clear-cut answer for this. However, around the 6 week mark you should be experiencing less pain, be off pain medications that cause side effects, and you will likely get the green light from your care team to sleep in more comfortable positions.
How To Sleep After Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Sleep is an important part of the healing process after any major surgery. However, one of the most common complaints we hear after someone has a total hip replacement is about difficulty or trouble sleeping. Whether youre unable to sleep in the position youre used to or you wake up with pain, the issue likely contributes to restless nights. Also, for several weeks after your surgery, youll need to take extra precautions when you go to bed to avoid dislocation.
To ensure you get some crucial shut-eye, in this post, well discuss some tips on how to sleep after youve had total hip replacement surgery.
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Benefits Of The Knee Buddy Extender
The Knee Buddy is a surgeon designed multi-use leg elevation pillow that is used before and after a knee surgery. When puzzled together, the product is ideal for leg elevation before and after surgery. It cradles the entire thigh, knee, and foot for full stabilization and elevation of the leg above the heart, creating the perfect position for edema reduction.
The end of the leg elevation pillow creates the optimal knee extension needed following a total knee replacement, arthroscopic knee surgery or ACL surgery. This concept is used by knee surgeons in hospitals across the country to ensure their patients experience the precise leg, knee, ankle and toe position angles needed to start a successful recovery. Continuing to incorporate extension exercises as part of your in-home rehab is critical to reducing pain and getting back to everyday activities.
Having a dedicated tool in place that raises the patients leg above your heart for proper blood circulation and edema control, partnered with the extension portion that will work the knee towards the ideal zero degrees of extension will keep your patients consistent accountable throughout rehab.
- Elevates the heel to allow for full knee extension.
- Prevents external rotation of the foot, thus eliminating the associated flexion at the knee.
Why Make An Appointment With Us
Our practice is called Advanced Orthopedic Specialists for a reason. A Specialist in orthopedics implies that the physician has had fellowship training. Orthopedic surgeons attend 4 years of undergraduate college, 4 years of medical school and 5 years of residency training in general orthopedic surgery. Fellowship training is an additional year of training to specialize in a specific field of orthopedics. All of the doctors at AOS are fellowship trained, offering patients the best educated physicians to help address their problem.
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Tips To Get To Sleepand Stay Asleep
Like the number of factors that are working together and causing you to lie awake at night, a bunch of things work together to help you sleep better. By employing a handful of tactics that are proven to promote better sleep, you should be able to catch more zzzs at night. Here are some tips you can follow ASAP, to rest easy.
How Soon After Knee Replacement Can I Sleep On My Side
Most patients are able to sleep on their side comfortably after a knee replacement, though this may vary depending on the individual. It is generally recommended to wait at least two weeks before attempting to sleep on your side, to allow the incision to heal properly and to avoid putting too much pressure on the newly replaced joint. If you experience any discomfort when trying to sleep on your side, consult with your doctor or physical therapist.
After joint replacement surgery, sleeping becomes difficult. You may wake up tired at night because of pain, discomfort, medications, emotional distress, and a lack of sleep in your preferred sleeping position. Its difficult to avoid insomnia after surgery. If you practice good sleep habits, you are less likely to become habituated to painful positions too soon. After a knee replacement, a safe sleeping position is similar to a hip replacement. It is critical to keep your surgical leg elevated while sleeping, but not to place pillows directly behind your knee. Dr. John Tiberi, M.D.,OS is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine.
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