Swelling after total knee replacement

"Swelling after total knee replacement" Does it sound familiar story?

It is one of the most common concerns expressed after knee replacement surgery. So, why is there post operative swelling and what can be done to treat it?

First let us see why swelling occurs…

Swelling is one of the primary signs of inflammation. Whenever there is inflammation at a joint, as in knee arthritis, swelling results. This is one of the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

So, why is there swelling after total knee replacement? Surgery for a total knee replacement requires a 10 - 12 inch surface incision. The muscles are then cut in order to reach the joint. One the joint has been exposed, the surfaces of the arthritic bone are cut in order to install the implant.

swelling after total knee replacement

Knee replacement surgery requires substantial cutting of muscle and bone. And the cutting causes swelling to occur.Is swelling after a TKR a bad thing?

The answer really depends on how far post op you are and the amount of swelling you are experiencing.Usually after surgery there will be swelling in and around knee joint and incision line.

This is normal and should not be cause for concern. It will decrease gradually over the next 3 – 6 months. In some cases swelling also occurs in the lower leg and shin area. This happens especially after sitting for extended periods of time without having the leg elevated.

If swelling does not decrease within 3-6 months post op, or if swelling appears to increase suddenly, a complication could be indicated for which you should immediately contact your doctor.

What should you do to help alleviate swelling after knee replacement?

As we have heard so many times icing is the best treatment. It is also important to elevate the leg when sitting and to avoid standing for long periods of time.

If you see swelling at the ankle when lying down, elevate your lower leg by placing a pillow under the calf and/or ankle. This will facilitate lymphatic drainage and thus help reduce the swelling.

Any time there is a substantial increase of swelling after total knee replacement you should contact your doctor ASAP.

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