There's usually no reason to avoid lying on the side or stomach after a knee replacement, but most people find it's more comfortable to be on their back at first. The key thing is to keep your leg straight. Bending the knee encourages contracture (where the muscles or tendons become harder to stretch).
Can you sleep on your side after knee replacement surgery? You can, but it's wise not to do so until at least a few weeks after surgery, when you can start bending your knee. Make sure you lay on your non-operative side. Sleeping this way makes sure no pressure falls on the knee you had surgery on.
Keep your knee straight
It's tempting to sit back and prop your leg on a pillow after knee surgery, but you should keep the joint completely straight after your procedure. To support the healing process, keep your leg and foot pointing straight ahead whenever you lie down or sit.
The Best Position To Sleep In After Knee Replacement
Lying on your back allows the leg to remain fairly straight and immobile, increasing blood flow to the healing knee and preventing strain. Think of that added juice to the knee as the fuel that gets you back on your feet.
The best sleeping position just after your surgery is sleeping on your back. You should make sure that your operative leg stays as straight as possible to avoid hypertension of the knee and keep proper blood flow to the surgery site.
Around the 6 week mark, once your physician gives you the greenlight, you may be able to return to sleeping in your preferred position (such as on your stomach or surgical side). Until then, stick to these positions.
Raise (elevate) your leg above the level of your heart by placing a pillow under your calf or ankle, not your knee. You can also try massage, aromatherapy, music therapy or other non-medicine ways to relieve pain. Take the prescription pain medicine as directed.
Balancing movement with getting enough rest is necessary to heal from knee replacement surgery. For the first few months, you may have some mild-to-moderate swelling of the affected knee. Getting the appropriate rest and keeping your leg elevated, as well as applying ice, can help boost healing time.
Energy of healing
Physical therapy and exercise after surgery may push your physical activity farther than it was before surgery. For all of these reasons, you may feel more tired than normal after surgery as your body is using energy for the healing process.
High-impact activities or contact sports such as football, skiing or lifting heavy weights are best avoided throughout your recovery period. They carry a high risk of falling which can damage your new joint. Any activity that requires twisting, jumping or running could place too much strain on your new knee.
Prop your leg on cushions or pillows so your knee is at least 12 inches above your heart for the first three to five days after surgery. Keep your leg elevated if your knee swells or throbs when you are up and about on crutches.
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.
Furthermore, with the advent of joint prostheses coated with hydroxyapatite, which work by promoting primary bone formation to fill the gap between the prosthesis and the host bone, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be counterproductive.
Recliners and sofas are not recommended after your knee or hip replacement because they are not supportive, difficult to get out of and can limit range of motion. Straight back chairs with arm rests are suggested for safety.
A surgeon can provide instructions for using both prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs. Those offered by prescription are meloxicam (Mobic), voltaren (Diclofenac), indomethacin (Indocin) and celecoxib (Celebrex). Over-the-counter medications are ibuprofen or naproxen (such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve).
Don't Overdo It
Signs of over-exercising include swelling of the entire leg and lingering pain that stretches into the evening or into the next day.
Four to six weeks after surgery: Within four to six weeks of your surgery, you will likely be able to walk 10 minutes or more at a time without a walker, cane, crutches or other assistive device. Your physical therapist will encourage you to walk longer distances without an assistive device.
The initial pain of surgery needs to be addressed with fairly strong painkillers for the first few days. You should expect to need to take painkilling tablets for up to 12 weeks after your operation. Your surgical team should be able to provide you with a leaflet about pain management.
Patients are often instructed not to take ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before or after surgery because of increased bleeding risk.
Your knee will still have some soreness, but it is very tolerable. You may get tired if you are on your feet for long periods of time, but strength can continue to improve with time. This is still some swelling in the knee, but it is usually better than before surgery.
Recovery is slow
While it's different for everyone and depends on the type of knee surgery you've had, many people are surprised by how long it takes to recover. The time it takes to start doing simple tasks around the home, get back to work and importantly bending your new and improved knee may catch you by surprise.
Patients will develop swelling in the leg, and there may be some bruising or redness around the incision area one week after surgery. “These are normal findings,” Dr. Lyon assures. “There might be slight drainage from the incision, but resolving.”