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complete guide to upper extremity injury and surgery recovery

knee surgery recovery, cryotherapy for sports injuries

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4 Recovery Options for Elbow, Hand, or Shoulder Surgery


how to recover from wrist surgeryUpper extremity injuries and surgery will inevitably cause disruption in your lifestyle. When surgery is required, either because of a fracture or an acute reccurring injury that does not subside, active participation in your recovery is the best way to return to normal function as quickly as possible.  

Your doctor will prescribe a recovery plan that should be closely followed to ensure that the healing process goes smoothly. 


Pain Medication

Pain immediately after surgery is often treated with medication that is tapered off as soon as it is practical. If you have lingering pain in the weeks after surgery your doctor might recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to help relieve it. Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any pain medication and communicate openly about any discomfort you feel.


The combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation is a standard approach for many injuries, including recovery from surgery.   

Getting ample rest is necessary for your body to heal itself. Your body will consume more energy than usual as it repairs tissues and copes with the trauma of surgery.  

Using ice or other cold therapy methods is proven to help reduce the swelling and pain that you will experience after surgery.  

Compression is used to help remove edema, or excess fluid, and also contributes to the reduction of swelling.  

Elevation helps limit swelling by making it more difficult for excess fluids to travel to the affected area. Controlling swelling is important for speeding up the healing process. Although some swelling is normal (and in fact beneficial), too much swelling impedes cellular and tissue repair. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy after surgery is essential for restoring strength and flexibility to your injured muscles and other tissues. Some activities that might be included in your therapy include: 

  • Muscle strengthening exercises to help you return to normal function
  • Stretches to increase flexibility and improve mobility
  • Activities to help reduce scar tissue on your skin 

Always follow the directions from your physical therapist to ensure optimal recovery. Although you may be encouraged to start using your hand or wrist shortly after surgery, too much activity can slow down the healing process. Work closely with your therapist to strike the right balance of activity.

Cold Compression Therapy

Cold compression therapy is recommended for surgery recovery for all the same reasons it is used to treat reoccurring acute injuries. It is more effective than ice packs and static compression bandages, and there is no risk of tissue damage from temperatures that are too cold.  

This type of therapy is particularly beneficial for surgery recovery because it helps accelerate the healing process in the following ways: 

  • Cold reduces cellular metabolism, which reduces cell death and secondary tissue damage
  • Active compression removes edema, which can contribute to slower healing
  • Active compression increases blood flow, which brings more oxygen for tissue repair 

The faster your muscles, ligaments, and tendons can heal after surgery, the more quickly you will be able to return to normal activity. Adding cold compression therapy to your recovery program is the best way to ensure the fastest rehabilitation.  

download guide to upper extremity injury and surgery recovery

7 Stretches to Do Post MCL Knee Surgery

acl stretchesAfter MCL surgery it is important to strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding the knee joint. Doing the exercises prescribed by your physical therapist will help you recover more quickly and help prevent future injury to the knee.

Whether you are strengthening or stretching, it is important to follow your therapist's instructions carefully as introducing too much activity too quickly can hinder the MCL recovery process.

7 Stretching Exercises for After MCL Surgery

Some of the stretching exercises your physical therapist might recommend include:
  1. Heel prop - Knee hyperextension is one component of proper full range of motion. The heel prop and the next two exercises are designed to improve knee hyperextension. The heel prop is a passive stretching exercise in which your leg rests on a bolster placed at the ankle. Because your foot is slightly elevated, your knee is allowed to be slightly hyperextended. Work with your physical therapist to ensure that you select a correctly sized bolster for this exercise.

  2. Towel stretch - Using a towel or other static strap wrapped loosely around the ball of your foot, gently pull your toes toward you and allow the knee to hyperextend.

  3. Active hyperextension - The goal of this exercise is to achieve the same effect as the towel stretch without using a device. With both legs flat while sitting up, using the strength in your quadriceps muscles, lift your heels off the floor.

  4. Heel slide - Knee flexion is just as important as extension. While lying flat on your back with your knees bent, use a towel or other device to gently pull your heels toward your body.

  5. Quadriceps stretch - Lay on your side and slightly bend both knees to find a stable position. Deepen the bend in the top leg and bring your heel toward your thigh, gently stretching your  muscles in the front of the thigh.

  6. Hamstring stretch - Lay on your back and bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor. Straighten one leg and use a towel or strap to slowly bring it closer to your body until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.

  7. Calf stretch - Stand facing a wall and bring one foot in front of the other as if you were going to do a lunge. Bend the front leg while keeping the back knee straight and push against the wall while keeping your back heel on the floor.

All of these stretches can be done in combination with other activities that will help you recover more quickly, including active cold and compression therapy. After a physical therapy session, using cryotherapy and compression can help reduce the pain and swelling that you are likely to experience after MCL surgery.

For  information about how the Game Ready system provides active cold and compression therapy, ask your doctor or find a provider near you. Having Game Ready lined up before your MCL surgery will help make recovery easier and faster.

What other stretches do you plan to do after MCL surgery?

Cost of Cryotherapy

How Does Cryotherapy Improve ACL Surgery Recovery?

acl surgery recoveryOne of the best ways to ensure that you make a speedy and full recovery after ACL surgery is to include cryotherapy as part of your rehabilitation plan. Cryotherapy is simply defined as the application of therapeutic cold to an injury. The effects of this therapeutic cold are many, and like other types of therapy, there are techniques you can employ to ensure that you get the most from your efforts.

Why to Use Cryotherapy After ACL Surgery

Cryotherapy is proven to have the following benefits:
  • Pain reduction - When you apply cold to any part of your body, the nerve fibers in the area reduce their activity, which lessens your perception of pain, providing an analgesic effect. Cryotherapy also has the effect of reducing muscular activity, which also contributes to a reduction in pain.

  • Swelling control - Swelling is a natural part of the inflammatory response that your body will go through after ACL surgery. Although a little swelling is normal, and in fact beneficial, too much swelling can impede the healing process and be uncomfortable for you. Cryotherapy reduces swelling by causing your blood vessels to alternate between dilation and constriction, removing the excess waste and fluid that contributes to swelling.

  • Edema reduction - Vasoconstriction and vasodilation also contribute to edema reduction with the same pumping effect that helps control swelling.

  • Faster healing - All of these factors combine to contribute to an overall faster healing process. Being in less pain will allow you to comfortably perform the exercises that your physical therapist recommends, and the healing effects of cryotherapy will help you get back on your feet faster.

Enhancing Cryotherapy After ACL Surgery

One way to employ cryotherapy is with the use of ice packs. Although this has been an effective method for decades, modern technology has made major strides that allow you to enhance the benefits of cryotherapy.

Consistent Cold

One of the drawbacks of ice packs is that they heat up over time and become gradually less effective. New cryotherapy systems use an ice reservoir and a constantly circulating flow of cold water to provide a consistent application of therapeutic cold. In combination with specialized wraps that cover the entire area around the knee joint, you benefit from deeper-penetrating, longer-lasting cryotherapy.

Active Compression

Adding active compression to cryotherapy enhances all of its benefits. Active pumping helps remove excess fluid while bringing even more fresh blood and fluid to the damaged tissues to stimulate faster healing.

Game Ready uses patented technology to provide simultaneous active compression with the application of consistent therapeutic cold. Ask your doctor about using Game Ready after ACL surgery or find a provider near you.

Have you tried cryotherapy for other injuries?

Cost of Cryotherapy

How to Reduce Swelling in Knees After Exercising Your ACL or MCL


excercise after acl mcl surgeryOne of the most common side effects after ACL or MCL surgery is swelling. This is a result of your body's natural reaction to trauma and is an essential component of the inflammatory response. Inflammation actually helps your body heal, but too much swelling can be uncomfortable and impede the recovery process.

So how do you reduce swelling after knee surgery? The traditional method is RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and although this is effective, there is now a better way.

How to Reduce Swelling After ACL or MCL Surgery

The best way to safely reduce swelling after knee surgery is with active cold and compression. Although ice packs are useful, they warm up as heat from your body transfers from your skin to the ice pack. This makes the therapy less effective over time. Static compression is also beneficial for swelling, but it also comes with some drawbacks.

Active Cold Therapy

Cryotherapy is a proven method for reducing the pain and swelling that is associated with knee surgery. The ability to maintain a constant temperature throughout the session enhances the healing effects of the therapy and helps reduce swelling in the following ways:

  • Reduction of cellular metabolism - The application of cold slows down the metabolism of your cells, which means that they consume less energy and do not have to work as hard to survive. It also reduces local swelling in cells and other tissues.

  • Reduction of excess fluid - Edema, or excess fluid in the body contributes to swelling. Applying cold to the area helps reduce the build-up of this fluid.

  • Vasodilation and vasoconstriction - When cold is applied to an area, the underlying blood vessels go through several cycles of dilating and constricting, which helps improve the flow of blood and other fluids, contributing to the reduction of swelling.

Active cold improves all of these cryotherapy benefits by constantly circulating cold water through a patented system and keeping the temperature consistent.

Active Compression Therapy

Static compression is used to reduce edema and swelling, but active compression is a much more effective method for achieving the same effects. Game Ready uses active pneumatic compression to pump air through a specialized wrap that fits around the entire knee joint. This active pumping mimics the body's muscular movements to remove excess fluid and bring fresh blood and nutrients to injured tissues.

The combination of active cold and compression in the Game Ready system can help you reduce swelling after MCL or ACL surgery. You can use this system both immediately after surgery to control pain and swelling, and throughout your recovery.

If you are interested in introducing active cold and compression therapy to your knee surgery recovery, consider renting a Game Ready system. Find a provider near you to learn more about Game Ready and how it can help you reduce swelling and pain.

How much swelling did you experience after knee surgery?

download soccer injury recovery guide

The Pros and Cons of Using Cryotherapy after ACL or MCL Knee Surgery


acl cryotherapyCryotherapy is commonly used after ACL or MCL surgery to speed up the recovery process and to help reduce pain and swelling. Your body's natural response after knee surgery is inflammation, which is both uncomfortable and impedes healing. Cryotherapy can help control the effects of inflammation so you can get back on your feet faster and with less pain.

Although cryotherapy is a proven method for reducing pain and swelling after knee surgery, it does come with some pros and cons.

Cons of Cryotherapy After ACL or MCL Surgery

Cold therapy has been around for a long time, typically in the form of ice water baths or cold packs. Some of the drawbacks that have been discovered over the years include:

  • Tissue injury - If the temperature of the ice pack is too cold, it can actually damage skin and other tissues. The inability to regulate cold temperatures historically made cryotherapy more risky than it is today. However, it is still possible to experience tissue damage with ice packs or other forms of cold therapy.

  • Heat transfer - When a cold pack is applied to an injured area, heat transfers from your body to the pack, causing it to get warmer and warmer. Although this does not present a health risk, it does make the therapy less effective over time.

Pros of Cryotherapy After ACL or MCL Surgery

When cold is applied to the body, it has several therapeutic effects:

  • Less pain - Pain is reduced because nerve activity is slowed down.

  • Less swelling - Constriction of the blood vessels helps reduce blood flow to the area, reducing swelling.

  • Faster healing - Cellular activity slows down, which contributes to a faster healing process.

There are now ways to get the many health benefits of cryotherapy after knee surgery without risk of tissue injury. Game Ready's patented cold and compression therapy system eliminates the potential problems associated with traditional methods of cryotherapy.

Game Ready uses specialized wraps that allow cold water to continuously circulate around the knee. A separate ice reservoir keeps the water at a constant therapeutic temperature that is not cold enough to damage skin, but stays cold enough to be beneficial throughout the entire session. Game Ready's specialized wraps are also designed to apply cold to the entire area surrounding the joint, which means that cold can penetrate to all the injured areas in the knee.

If you are interested in learning more about Game Ready for your MCL or ACL surgery recovery, ask your doctor or find a local provider.

Have you tried cryotherapy before?

Cost of Cryotherapy

How Do Cold Therapy Systems Work?

cold therapy systems2Cryotherapy is a proven method for reducing pain, swelling, and edema. However, simply applying an ice pack has a limited effect on the healing process because the heat from the injury quickly warms it. Active cold therapy systems enhance the power of ice therapy by providing consistent cooling at a controlled temperature. Some cold therapy systems also include active compression, which further enhances the many benefits of cryotherapy.

Cold Therapy Systems: How They Work

There are two primary problems with ice packs: they get warmer as the injury transfers heat, and for most injuries it is difficult to completely cover the affected area. Cold therapy systems provide solutions for both of these problems.

  1. Active Temperature Exchange (ATX) Technology
    A static ice pack will start at the right therapeutic temperature, but it won't stay that way for long. To combat this problem, ATX technology continually circulates cold water through an ice reservoir to provide consistent cooling. As the injury warms the water that flows through the system, colder water is brought in to replace it. This constant flow of cold water means that the cold source stays at a consistent therapeutic temperature throughout the session.

  2. Cold therapy wraps
    If you have ever tried to apply an ice pack to a sprained ankle, you know how difficult it is to cover the entire area. Even the most flexible gel pack won't completely surround your ankle, wrist, elbow, knee, or back. Cold therapy wraps with integrated ATX technology are designed to solve this problem. In contrast to gel packs, cold therapy wraps cover more surface area, conform to your body, and provide cold therapy for the entire joint. Cold therapy systems use specialized wraps that are designed for each specific body part. This means that you can select a wrap that specifically treats the injury you have.

A wrap integrated with ATX technology has chambers that allow cold water to flow through. The wrap is connected to an ice reservoir that enables constant cooling. In addition to ATX technology, cold therapy wraps can also employ active pneumatic compression, further enhancing the benefits of cryotherapy and improving fluid circulation in the area.

Game Ready provides innovative cold therapy systems that are proven to be more effective than ice or cooling gel packs. Because the temperature remains constant during the entire application, the therapeutic cold is allowed to penetrate deeper and last longer, helping your body accelerate the healing process. This means less pain and faster recovery for you. Contact Game Ready today to learn how to rent or buy your own cold therapy system.

What challenges have you faced when using ice or gel packs?

Six Core Benefits to Using Cold Therapy Systems

cold therapy systemCold therapy systems use advanced technology to provide deep, consistent cooling to injured areas. Combined with active compression, cold therapy can help your body heal more quickly by preventing tissue damage, encouraging healthy circulation, and stimulating tissue repair.

Although many athletes and patients believe that ice water therapy is sufficient, cold therapy systems provide many more important benefits.

Six Benefits to Cold Therapy Systems

Cryotherapy is a time-tested method for reducing pain, swelling, and edema. Although ice has been the primary cold source for years, cold therapy systems are rapidly becoming the method of choice for doctors, trainers, and surgeons because they offer so many benefits:

  1. Consistent therapeutic temperature - A constant exchange of cold water with warmer water ensures that the injury site receives the same cold temperature for the duration of the therapy session.
  2. Deeper cold - Consistent cooling allows the therapeutic cold to penetrate deeper, which means that more of your recovering tissue will benefit from less swelling, pain, and edema.
  3. Longer lasting cold - A deeper, consistent cooling effect lasts longer after the therapy session has been completed so you will continue to benefit from cryotherapy even after the application of cold has stopped.
  4. Better coverage - Specialized wraps can cover more surface area than a simple ice pack. Wraps that conform to your body and have more uniform contact allow the therapeutic cold to reach all the damaged tissue in the injured area.
  5. Less pain - Better coverage and more effective cold therapy means less pain during the recovery process. This not only helps improve your quality of life, but will also allow you to benefit more from physical therapy.
  6. Faster recovery - All of these factors combine to provide quicker healing and faster recovery from injuries or surgery. The faster you can recover, the more quickly you can get back to normal life, which is perhaps the greatest benefit of all.

Unlike ice water or gel packs, cold therapy systems cover more area and cool at a consistent temperature to provide a deeper, longer-lasting therapeutic effect. If you need cryotherapy, make sure you get the most from it with cold therapy systems.

Game Ready provides cold therapy systems for all types of injuries and surgical recoveries. We also have a new specialized amputee wrap for below-the-knee amputations. Whether you have a sports injury or are recovering from surgery, active cold and compression can help you get back on your feet more quickly. Download our free whitepaper to learn more about Cryotherapy.

How do you think you could benefit from cold therapy?

Post-Surgery Expecations: Below the Knee Amputation


below the knee amputationIt’s never easy for someone to lose a limb, because there will be significant lifetime adjustments that must be made because of the amputation. Yet, healthcare experts agree that there are circumstances, such as an acute injury or chronic vascular problem such as diabetic infection, where a below the knee amputation (BKA) is the best solution. BKA surgery can give the patient the best possible opportunity for a better functioning life with less pain to the lower extremity.

Further, studies have shown that people who undergo below the knee amputation have a greater chance of achieving functional success, as compared to other types of amputations. These transtibial amputations are among the most commonly performed. Those who have a BKA retain the knee joint, which helps tremendously for achieving post-operative rehabilitation and ambulation success. A functioning knee provides the power to lift and lower the body, as well as assistance for balance maintenance. Our knees are important for transfer maneuvers, such as getting in and out of bed, up and down stairs, or on and off the toilet. Knees also help us push forward, slow down and walk on slopes and stairs.

Following a below the knee amputation, the surgical and therapy team will work with the patient to assess their expectations and help them attain those goals to the degree possible by their overall health status.  

There are three primary recovery stages that BKA patients should anticipate:

1.  Healing phase – This typically ranges from 6-12 weeks. During this phase, the amputation wound is healing. Sutures are usually removed after about 3 weeks. Post-surgical infection control is a prime goal, as is optimizing range of motion, patient education and emotional support, and controlling swelling and pain.  Sometimes a cold compression system is used for reduction of swelling and pain.

2.  Prosthetic Fitting – Once the amputation site and soft tissue has healed and the swelling and edema significantly reduced, then a trained prosthetic expert will fit the patient with a prosthesis. It may require several months of work with the expert to ensure that the prosthesis fits correctly and can be comfortably and safely worn. During this time, the amputation stump can become irritated by the presence of the new prosthesis, and so cryotherapy along with compression is sometimes recommended.

3.  Rehabilitation phase – Patients will begin to learn how to walk with their new prosthesis and will start physical therapy on atrophied muscles to strengthen them as well as other muscle groups such as the upper body. Regular physical therapy will be routine so that the patient regains strength, balance and endurance. Early mobility helps improve functional outcomes, foster independence, decrease mortality rates and reduce acute care length of stay. Vocational assessments often occur during this phase as well, to help the patient determine how to successfully reintegrate into either their previous work career, or help them find a different type of work more suited to their new physical status.

Patient goals and expectations after a below-knee amputation vary greatly and are affected by their overall health status and their commitment to post-surgery rehabilitation. Do you have questions about the recovery stages of below the knee amputation? Contact Game Ready and learn more about our injury treatment systems.

Does your physical therapist have access to an active cold and compression therapy system?


Six ACL Surgery Recovery Strategies

acl surgery recovery strategiesOne of the most common sports injuries is a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. In fact, according to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, there are more than 150,000 ACL injuries each year in the United States. Many of these are treated with reconstructive knee surgery to repair the tear.

This particular injury can happen in a broad range of sports to both male and female athletes. Although not all types of ACL injuries require surgery, the most serious tears do. The speed of ACL surgery recovery depends on a number of factors including the intensity of the injury, the health of the athlete prior to surgery, and the recovery strategies employed.

When it comes to ACL surgery recovery, the more informed and prepared you are, the faster you will be able to heal.

Six Strategies for ACL Surgery Recovery

  1. Pre-surgery strengthening - When the muscles surrounding the knee joint are strong, rehabilitation and recovery are faster. Talk to your doctor about a pre-surgery program to help you safely strengthen the groin, calf, hamstring, and quadriceps muscles.

  2. Pre-surgery stretching - Maintaining a healthy range of motion before surgery will help you return to this range faster afterwards. Gentle stretches and low-impact movements can help you reduce stiffness and keep the joint lubricated.

  3. Post-surgery stretching - Gentle movement of the knee joint after surgery will help prevent the growth of scar tissue that can later limit your range of motion. Work with your physical therapist to develop an appropriate program.

  4. Post-surgery strengthening - Help stabilize the knee joint by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Again, work with a qualified professional to develop a program. It is important not to overdo strengthening exercises immediately after surgery while the tissue is still healing.

  5. Pain management - Your doctor might prescribe pain medication, which should be taken as directed.

  6. Cryotherapy and compression - Cold therapy and compression are proven techniques for accelerating the healing process and managing pain and swelling. Active cold and compression take it to another level by providing a deeper, longer-lasting cooling effect while actively pumping fluids away from the knee. Active compression also pumps oxygen-rich blood to the joint, which will further speed up the healing process by bringing vital nutrients to the tissues.

Perhaps the most important element for effective ACL surgery recovery is patience. It takes time for the damaged tissue to heal, which can be very frustrating for athletes. Closely following recommendations from a physical therapist and employing active cold therapy and compression will help ensure that the healing process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Ask your doctor about getting a prescription for Game Ready's cold therapy compression systems and contact us to learn more about renting a system to help improve your ACL surgery recovery.

Have you ever had ACL surgery? Did cold and compression help you manage pain and swelling?


Expedite Your Knee Surgery Recovery with Cold Compression Therapy


knee surgery recoveryLike any other surgery, knee surgery results in pain and inflammation that can cause discomfort for the patient. The more quickly the healing process happens, the faster you can reduce or eliminate these undesirable effects. Fortunately, it is possible to expedite knee surgery recovery with cold compression therapy.

The efficacy of cold compression therapy is well proven. In the case of knee surgery recovery, the combination of these two therapies has the following effects: 

  • Cold therapy - Also called cryotherapy, the application of cold to the injured tissue around the surgical site will lower the metabolic rate of the tissue. This helps prevent the tissue from becoming further damaged and reduces the amount of healing and tissue regeneration required by the body. Cold therapy also helps reduce pain and swelling in the knee.

  • Compression - Compression is often used during knee surgery recovery to help prevent swelling in the damaged tissue. When external pressure is applied, less fluid is allowed to accumulate in the knee, reducing the incidence of swelling.

  • Cold and compression combined - When compression is added to cold therapy, the tissue in the injured knee cools much more quickly and stays cool even after treatment is complete.

Use Active Cold Compression for Knee Surgery Recovery

The combination of cold and compression can be further improved to provide even faster healing and tissue repair by using active technology.

  • Active cold - When an ice pack or other cooling device sits statically on the skin, heat is transferred from the injury to the cooler object. Although this is initially effective and produces the desired result of cooling the area, the temperature of the ice pack is rapidly increased and the therapeutic cooling effects are diminished. Active cold therapy circulates water that is constantly cooled so that the temperature at the healing site remains consistent. The effect of active cold therapy is deeper cooling that lasts longer than a static system.

  • Active compression - Static compression will help reduce swelling by limiting the amount of fluid that is allowed to enter the knee, but active compression will actually pump fluids away from the area. This pumping action also helps improve blood flow, which results in the delivery of more oxygen, which helps speed up the healing process.

The faster you can heal during knee surgery recovery, the faster you will be back on your feet. Game Ready's patented active compression and cold therapy knee wraps are designed to provide targeted cooling directly to the affected area. Our proven technology is more effective than other cryotherapy systems, providing deeper cooling that lasts longer. Contact us to learn more about how you can use Game Ready to improve your knee surgery recovery, or talk to your doctor about renting a system.

Wouldn't you like to make your knee surgery recovery faster?

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