After you have had your knee replaced besides learning how to manage the post-surgical pain, you will need to learn how to effectively manage the swelling that will accompany the surgery as well. Maintaining an acceptable amount of swelling in the knee will not only help in reducing your pain and overall comfort level but, it will also make your rehabilitation more productive.
Several recommendations that are made to help you with the swelling and, what I also recommend to my patients in the home health setting are
1. A Good Quality Cold Pack. I have seen all types of cold packs in use. Some are much better than others. I myself do not recommend using a bag of vegetables for instance for such a large joint. It is advisable that you purchase either a large cold pack that has a gel component inside or, you get a large plastic bag that can be filled with ice. The important thing to remember is that you want a cold pack that fully encompasses the entire knee both top and bottom. You should be able to wrap the entire cold pack around your knee.
Some hospitals also provide their own cryotherapy systems that you can take home and use. They are effective as well. The important thing to remember is to use a cold component on the knee immediately after exercise and as needed throughout the day. You cannot apply too much ice.
2. Ted Hose. This something to consider if you have a continual problem with swelling. Many orthopedic surgeons make the use of these compression stockings a part of their discharge instructions. They are effective when used. The problem can be getting them on and off for some patients and caregivers. You can wear them virtually 24 hours a day. They can be uncomfortable for many and rather restrictive. They are used also in the prevention of possible blood clotting in the affected limb as well.
3. Elevation. Keeping your affected leg elevated higher than your heart is another very common tool that is used and taught to everyone that has a knee replacement. The problem is many do not follow the instructions regarding proper placement. I find many will keep the affected leg lower than it should be. Placing it up on several pillows or other type of structure will help in getting the fluid to drain back towards your torso. This allows your body to properly handle and excrete the fluid at a later time.
4. Monitor Your Activity Level. Your activity level and how much you are up on your feet will dictate the amount of swelling you experience. This is another common area where people get into trouble. They are torn between how much to walk. It is pounded into our heads when we leave the hospital to walk. Yes that is important however, you can over do this easily and, cause your knee to revolt, causing the increase in swelling and accompanied pain.
Reducing the swelling in your knee therefore is learning how to merge and manage your activity levels, along with applying a cold pack to your knee after each exercise session and elevating your leg during your icing sessions.
There is nothing that will totally prevent the swelling of your knee. Swelling is how your body begins the healing process by bringing extra blood and nutrients to the area. You will go through a learning curve with the swelling. Everyone s body will react a little differently. You will learn through trial and error how to manage this process.
If you follow the triad of monitoring your activity level initially along with using ice liberally around the entire knee and, elevating it throughout the day than you will be doing all you can to keep your swelling to a manageable level.