One 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?
Cryotherapy 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.
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?
Cryotherapy 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Cold 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
It’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?
One 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pain management - Your doctor might prescribe pain medication, which should be taken as directed.
- 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?
Like 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?
Back surgery recovery comes with many challenges, both mental and physical. However, if you are prepared with the right tools and resources, you can make your recovery faster and more comfortable. Before surgery, talk to your doctor about your recovery plan and make sure you have all the medication, physical therapy tools, and other necessary items ready in advance. You may also need a little assistance while you recover, so make sure you have family or friends who are ready to help as needed.
These simple steps can make the back surgery recovery process go much more smoothly.
Four Tips to Improve Back Surgery Recovery
- Manage pain with medication - A certain amount of pain is inevitable with any type of surgery. Talk to your physician about how they intend to help you manage pain and what types of medications you can expect to be taking. They might prescribe narcotics, NSAIDs, or other pain management medications immediately following the surgery. The medications you should take will depend on the type of surgery you have, so be sure to ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.
- Get plenty of sleep - The more you can rest comfortably, the faster your body will heal. Ask your physician or physical therapist what sleeping positions they recommend to help reduce strain on your back.
- Participate in your rehabilitation - Although it is important to rest, it is equally important to be active throughout the rehabilitation process. Your physical therapist might recommend gentle stretches or certain movements to help increase circulation and regain muscle strength. Every patient is different, so make sure you work closely with a healthcare professional to develop your rehabilitation plan.
- Use active compression and cold therapy to reduce pain - Compression and cold therapy have been used for centuries to help speed up the healing process for injuries of all types. This can be a little more challenging with back surgery recovery because of the nature and location of the injury. However, using a specially designed cryotherapy wrap that circulates cold water and air will provide simultaneous cold therapy and active compression. Cold therapy can be used immediately after surgery and on an ongoing basis after activities that might induce swelling.
If you are facing back recovery surgery, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about Game Ready's patented dual-action Active Temperature Exchange back wraps. The combination of active compression and cold therapy is proven to provide longer-lasting, deeper cooling to help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process.
The results speak for themselves. More than 94% of patients who used Game Ready said that their post-operative recovery was better than with other types of cold therapy. Want to learn more? Contact us today to speak with a representative.
What steps have you taken to help improve back surgery recovery?
Cryotherapy – also called cold therapy – has been used for many years to treat the aftereffects of a soft tissue musculoskeletal injury. If you’ve ever twisted your ankle or had to do post-op rehabilitation for a knee ligament repair, you may have been advised to follow the RICE (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) regimen. Traditional ice application methods typically include use of an ice bucket (doesn’t work on many joint injuries, such as the back or hip), wrapping the injury with a plastic bag filled with crushed ice, or using an ace wrap over the ice-filled bag to try and provide some compression along with the cryotherapy. These methods are inconvenient, messy, irritating and hard to stick with over time. And when you don’t stay with a regimen of cryotherapy and compression, you recover more slowly from your sports injury.
Fortunately for active sports lovers, technology advances have greatly improved cryotherapy systems to deliver more therapeutic benefits and therefore speed your healing and return to an active life. The ACCEL™ system combines active cold therapy and active compression therapy (as compared to a static ace bandage wrapped around your injury), delivering a wide range of clinical benefits to you:
- Decreased pain
- Reduced swelling
- Decreased muscle spasms
- Reduced edema formation
- Reduced metabolic activity and oxygen demand, improving tissue healing response
- More efficient and rapid removal of heat from the injury site, therefore more effective temperature reduction
- Reduced or eliminated need for pain medication post-injury, allowing improved focus on rehab needed to return to work and play
- Enhanced lymphatic drainage, key to better healing
- Increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to injury site, speeding recovery of damaged tissue
- Improved surface contact of cold therapy to injury site, providing deeper and longer-lasting cooling effects
- Quicker recovery from intense workouts or physical activity, eliminating downtime while sore tissues rebound
Surveys of patients who have used ACCEL™ cryotherapy systems report excellent results:
- Over 90 percent say it helped them return to work or daily activities sooner
- Over 94 percent say it reduced the amount of pain medication they took or allowed them to stop the meds sooner
- Over 94 percent say it provided a superior post-op recovery than previous surgery using a different cold therapy system
Specialized wraps for many applications
You might worry whether your particular injury is one that can be helped with this system. The good news here is that there are wraps suitable for just about any joint and any musculoskeletal injury situation. Using a patented dual-action ATX™ (Active Temperature Exchange) design, the wraps provide circulation of both ice water and air for a combined simultaneous delivery of cold and compression therapy.
Wraps are available for your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, back, hip/groin, knee, leg, and ankle areas. Professional athletes and regular active people trying to recover from a sports injury use these wraps for applications such as shoulder replacement, SLAP tear, bursitis, synovectomy, carpal tunnel syndrome, spine fusion, hip resurfacing, ACL injury or surgery, meniscal knee tear or repair, Achilles tendon rupture or tear, and sprains, strains, or fractures of any joint area.
As the Head Athletic Trainer for the San Francisco Giants baseball team noted about these cryotherapy systems, “I’ve seen a two-fold increase in recovery rates. Guys are back in half the time.” Shouldn’t you use a system that gets you back faster, too?
Why are you sitting on the couch? Maybe you sprained your ankle when you took a tumble down the ski slope. Maybe you overstretched your knee ligament during a rowdy basketball game with buddies. Or, possibly you’re recovering from surgery to repair a torn shoulder rotator cuff caused by your physically-demanding job. Whatever the cause of your injury, it’s important to use all the tools available today to help with the healing process.
Many physicians and physical therapists now recommend a patented cold compression therapy system for their patients who have suffered a musculoskeletal injury. This innovative rehabilitation aid includes cold compression wraps designed to simultaneously circulate ice water and air for cooling and active compression at the specific injury site. These wraps were custom-designed to fit areas of the body most affected by a musculoskeletal injury. When you use cold compression wraps, you gain five key benefits that aid in healing.
1. Minimized pain
Post-injury pain can put you on the sidelines, and that’s not an option for many people who need to get back to work as fast as they can. Cold compression wraps that employ a patented ATX (Active Temperature Exchange) design deliver effective, large-surface area cold and compression relief directly to the injury site. Studies show that cold compression therapy is an effective pain reliever.
2. Reduced swelling
Less swelling leads to faster recovery of damaged tissues. Cryo (cold) therapy is a common way to treat the swelling that comes with these injuries. It has a strong local vasoconstriction effect and it lessens what’s known as secondary hypoxic injury to reduce tissue debris and swelling. Active compression helps the body pump away swelling as well and speeds tissue repair by promoting lymphatic flow recovery. When you use cold compression wraps, the bottom line is you speed normal tissue function recovery.
3. Decreased pain medication use
Many physically active people are reluctant to take pain meds, even those prescribed by their doctor, because pain pills often cause drowsiness, mental fog and an inability to focus on the physical therapy needed to recover faster. Fortunately, doctors have found that an aggressive regimen of cold compression therapy enables many people to reduce or even eliminate the use of pain meds, so they stay focused on recovery and return to work more quickly.
4. Enhanced tissue healing
Cold compression wraps help stimulate the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your injury, which numerous studies link to faster tissue healing. Active compression seems to provide a therapeutic effect that enhances connective tissue healing; it causes increased arterial blood flow, decreased venous pressure and has been shown to increase the ingrowth of neurovascular tissue.
5. Better lymphatic drainage
Lymphatic drainage is an important function of our lymphatic system, central to a strong immune system and key to reducing fluid in our tissues caused by musculoskeletal injuries. Cold compression therapy can enhance lymphatic drainage, and therefore speed healing of your injured tissues.
Help yourself heal with a system featuring cold compression wraps that provide better coverage, better fit and better results. Which wrap did you use for your injury?