how to manage pain swelling and bruising after knee replacement surgery
After any surgical procedure, Pain and Swelling are quite common. Though it is not preventable, advancements in medicine and new technology have untangled the management of these adverse residues. Pain and swelling are considered to be part of the healing process or inflammation. If you are trying to decrease those symptoms of inflammation with the help of medication, physical therapy, and simple home remedies, these can only bring temporary relief.
A similar experience goes with knee replacement surgery as well. Patients tend to experience discomfort while recovering. So, pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness are all experienced during the process of recovery and adjustment to the new joint. Thankfully, there are many options you can try for pain management after undergoing knee replacement.
Here are some procedures and tips to be followed for managing pain, swelling, and bruises after knee replacement surgery. As most of the tips are valid for all the three issues, pain management conforms to all those overlapping tips of the other two:
- To be able to follow proper Knee Alignment, you have to follow the instructions given by the doctor on how to position your knee after the surgery. Usually, the doctor advises keeping the knee straight without bending whether you are sleeping or sitting. Maintaining the proper knee alignment speeds up the recovery but has to undergo the phase of initial uncomfortableness.
- Avoid stiffing of the joint by not staying in the same position for more than 45 minutes. If it is important for you to get the feel of the joint, take the doctor’s approval to try walking in the hospital itself. Blood flow to the injured area will be abundant with walking and other physical activity. With the increased blood flow, pain can be reduced and healing will be faster.
- Try to walk after every 2 hours while at home after shifting from the hospital. Avoid bumpy tracks and routes which are uneven while walking which will disorient the joint. Staircase climbing and descending are not at all recommended during the initial days after the surgery.
- Doctors may prescribe a few pain killers to alleviate pain and swelling. Avoid extra doses and strictly follow the doctor’s instructions to take medicines as prescribed.
- A special type of compression stocking is recommended for the first few weeks after surgery, that prevents swelling and decreases the occurrence of blood clots on the surgery performed leg.
- Elevating the leg might reduce the pain or swelling. Raising the leg above heart level by keeping pillows under the knee and legs give comfort.
- Starting with a few movements after the surgery and initiating physical therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and enhance the benefits of the new joints in a short period. Though uncomfortable in the beginning, and wanted to rest the knee, it is not advisable to completely halt its movement.
- A physical therapist will be allotting a personal exercise schedule on moving the joints safely. Initially, it will be difficult but you have to keep in mind that if the joint is immobilized for a longer period, it deters the healing process.
- It is always advisable to attend the scheduled follow-up appointments. Depending upon the progress of your knee, the doctor might alter the schedule of the exercises and medication.
- Swelling is a usual process during healing. Many people face mild to severe swelling in the initial few days or weeks after the operation and low to moderate swelling for 3 to 6 months after surgery.
- Ice packs or cold compresses are effective ways to deal with swelling and inflammation in and around the knee joint. Your doctor may prescribe using ice packs for at least 20 minutes every time a day for 4-5 times. Avoid using ice packs if there is no improvement, after consulting with your orthopedist. Applying heat might also help but only after some weeks of surgery. To be safe, consult your doctor before proceeding further.
- If there is a sign of a blood clot or infection or severe swelling of the knee joint, consult the doctor immediately.
DEALING WITH BRUISING
- A purplish discoloration indicating the blood cluster around the operated part under the skin is called bruising. It might be formed around the knee and would last for 1-2 weeks after the surgery.
- A blood thinner would be given by the doctor to avoid thrombosis which would add to the bruising effect.
- Though bruising will subside over time, it adds tenderness to the operated part. By elevating your leg, the bruising and other inflammation signs can be reduced.
- As you might have already heard, compression stockings will be provided while in hospital which are like socks, and will be asked to wear for at least 1-2 weeks to get rid of clots and pain risks.
- Pain and swelling will be controlled when the operated leg is elevated above the heart level by using pillows underneath the leg especially, the knee.
- Doctors might prescribe some topical medicated ointments to be applied on the knee, which would reduce the pain and aid you to have a comfortable sleep during the night. Ointments with chemical ingredients such as menthol, capsaicin, or salicylates will be used which relieves pain effectively when applied to the skin.