Any investment in new equipment requires serious consideration. In addition to the upfront and potentially on-going costs, you must consider how much space you have for storage and use, how often the equipment will be operated, and of course, whether the technology is right for your patients and practice.
The muscles and joints in your lower extremities are important for daily living, but many people take this for granted until they experience pain or swelling. A swollen knee is not only uncomfortable, it can also prevent you from going up and down stairs and limit your desire or ability to walk. This can be very disruptive to daily life and should be addressed as soon as possible to help prevent further damage and allow you to quickly get back to normal. Knee swelling can be caused by a range of factors including:
A torn ACL is a painful and inconvenient injury, especially for athletes. Fortunately, ACL surgery makes it possible to repair the damaged tissue, usually with a graft from another ligament in your own body. Arthroscopic surgery leaves few external scars, but the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues in the knee joint need time to recover fully from both the injury and the surgery.
Following a few tips during ACL surgery recovery can help you heal faster and get back on your feet more quickly.
Why Does Swelling Occur After ACL Surgery?The human body is a remarkable system that uses many different mechanisms to keep you healthy. One of the more important mechanisms is the inflammatory response. Whenever your body suffers some trauma, whether it is an insect bite or a surgical incision, your body responds with inflammation.
Why does it do this? Inflammation occurs to help protect your healthy tissues from further damage, and to help the injured tissue repair itself. The inflammatory response includes five tell-tale symptoms:
- Loss of function
Depending on the severity of the injury, you will experience each of the symptoms to varying degrees. Although it is necessary to repair the torn tissues in the knee, ACL surgery is essentially a trauma to your body, so its natural response will be inflammation, which almost always includes swelling.
Immobilizing your knee or controlling the angle at which it is allowed to bend will help provide support and stability in the joint. This stability gives your damaged tissues the opportunity to heal while you continue to rest and do rehabilitative exercises as directed.
4 Knee Solutions for Post-Op Knee SurgeryDepending on where you are in the surgery recovery process, your doctor or physical therapist might recommend one of the following types of knee recovery solutions:
- Cold and compression wrap - As the tissues in your knee start to heal, cold and compression therapy can help contribute to a speedy recovery. A patented wrap with simultaneous active compression and consistent cold encircles the entire area around your knee. This allows therapeutic cold to penetrate more deeply than ice alone, while active compression brings fresh blood and pumps away cellular waste.
- Post-op knee brace - For a brief period of time after your surgery you will have to immobilize your knee to give the damaged tissues the best opportunity to heal. A post-op knee brace provides this level of support while still allowing you to be mobile.
- Hinged knee brace - After the initial healing process you can switch to a hinged knee brace that provides support while allowing you to bend the joint over a limited range of angles. These types of braces can be worn as you start to introduce higher impact activities.
- Articulated knee wrap - An articulated knee wrap that combines cold and compression will allow you to do rehabilitative exercises on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to help minimize pain and swelling caused by activity after surgery.
As always, follow your doctor's instructions with respect to medication, rest, exercise, and other activities. Being active throughout the knee surgery recovery process is not only possible, it is encouraged. Using the appropriate type of knee brace throughout the healing process will allow you to be active and mobile while protecting your knee joint and ensuring stability.
Game Ready offers cold and compression wraps to help you reduce pain and swelling either while immobilizing the joint or performing rehabilitative exercises. We also provide post-op knee braces for stability and post-op recovery. Find a provider near you to learn more.
What type of knee brace did you wear after knee surgery?
Why to Use Cryotherapy After ACL SurgeryCryotherapy 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 SurgeryOne 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 ColdOne 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 CompressionAdding 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?
So what do you need to be safe and comfortable for post-op knee surgery?
6 Things You Need After Knee Surgery
- Rest - After knee surgery you need to rest both your knee and your body. Limiting activity and getting ample sleep will allow your body to dedicate as much energy as possible to repairing itself. This is especially important in the first several days after surgery. If necessary, change your schedule to accommodate less activity.
- Healthy food - Your body will need all the valuable nutrients it can get during the recovery process. Focus on good nutrition with balanced meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Pain medication - Your doctor will likely prescribe some pain medication, especially for the initial stages of post-op knee surgery. Maintain an open line of communication to ensure that you get the right types and amounts of medication during this time.
- Cold compression therapy - Active cold and compression combine two important therapies for faster healing. This type of therapy can also reduce pain and swelling immediately after knee surgery, so be sure to talk to your doctor about your options before you go in for surgery.
- Physical therapy - Although you need to get ample rest, you must also participate in a physical therapy program that will help you regain full range of motion. Your physical therapist will also prescribe exercises that will help rebuild stability, strength, and flexibility.
- Knee brace - Post-op knee braces are designed to completely immobilize the joint after surgery. After the initial healing phase, you can wear a brace that allows more mobility. Your doctor and physical therapist can help you decide which type of brace is right for you.
Of course, you might also want to plan for some entertainment in the first few weeks after surgery while you need to rest your knee as much as possible. You should also think about how your house is laid out and make any necessary provisions. For example, consider temporarily living on only the first level of your home to avoid stairs as much as possible.
Work with your doctor and physical therapist to ensure that you have everything you need before your knee surgery. Pick up any prescriptions you will need, select a knee brace that fits, and make sure you have a cold and compression system reserved for your physical therapy sessions. You can also rent a system to keep at home during your recovery. Find a Game Ready provider near you to get started.
What else might you need for post-op knee surgery?
There are many activities you should try to do during MCL surgery recovery. For example, getting plenty of rest, using cold and compression therapy, and following the recommendations from your physical therapist. However, there are also several that you should avoid if you want to ensure the fastest recovery possible.