Swelling after knee replacement

Swelling after knee replacement surgery is considered normal and can be easily avoided or treated. The objective of knee replacement surgery is to elevate the pain in the knee caused by over use, arthritis, infection, or normal wear and tear.

Knee replacement surgery is the replacement of the joints in the knee with artificial joints. This surgery is common but it does require the patience to follow the doctor's instructions to ensure that the knee will heal properly.


Normal swelling after knee replacement surgery is reduced the next morning. The swelling will continue to gradually go down as you become more active. Activities that will leave your feet in still position or on the floor for a long period of time such as walking or sitting in a chair may cause further swelling. Swelling can persist for three to four months after surgery and your replaced knew will always be slightly larger than your other knee.


Swelling after knee replacement surgery can happen in your knees, legs, ankles and toes. Blood clots in your leg vein after joint replacement surgery is the primary cause of swelling. If they block blood from flowing from the leg to the heart or if they move to the lungs they can be dangerous. People who are overweight, elderly, suffered from previous blood clots or those who have cancer are at an increased risk to have swelling after knee replacement surgery due to blood clots.


To help prevent swelling after knee surgery it is important to follow the doctor's rehabilitation instructions. There are a few exercises to reduce swelling such as placing ice in a cloth, elevating your leg above your heart and icing your knee for up to 20 minutes. Ankle pumps are a great exercise to improve circulation, reduce swelling and prevent blood clots. Ankle pumps are the flexing of the ankle so that the foot moves back and forth, repeat this routine 10 to 30 times per hour.


It is helpful to move the foot and ankle after surgery while in bed to increase blood flow to the muscles in your leg. Some patients may receive blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin or Lovenox to ensure proper blood flow. Support hose and compression boots may also be required to protect against blood clots and swelling of the knee after surgery. During your stay in the hospital you may be encouraged to use a continuous passive motion machine that is used to move the knee slowly while you are in bed.


Deep Venous thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood clots form within the veins of the leg. The leg is usually warm and there is pain when it is touched. Pulmonary embolism is when the blood clots travel to the lungs and are lodged in the capillaries of the lung that cuts off blood supply to the lungs. The most effective way to reduce the risk of DVT is to begin moving the leg and ankles as soon as possible after surgery.