How to Cure Swollen Foot After Knee Surgery?

Pain, bruising, and a swollen foot after knee surgery are some mild effects of surgery. But all these conditions are normal and are signs of recovery. In fact, many people experience rapid recovery after initial pain and swelling.

In any case, there are natural ways to manage pain and a swollen foot after surgery and ease the recovery process. As part of this guide, I’ve listed complete information on managing the swollen foot after knee surgery. Read on.

Swollen Foot After Knee Surgery

Swelling in the leg, foot, or knee following a knee replacement is primarily caused by fluid accumulations in the soft tissues.

After surgery, swelling is a normal part of the recovery process because, during the healing process, thousands of cells are sent to fix the surgical part; this is called the inflammation phase — the first phase of recovery. It is due to the influx of all these cells to the affected area that causes swelling.

Since the lower extremity is dependent and low to the heart, there is more swelling in lower appendage surgery. Furthermore, gravity makes it likely for more fluid to accumulate.

swollen-foot-after-knee-surgery

Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the bodily tissue. In particular, edema occurs most often in the feet, ankles, hands, legs, and arms after surgery. The result is painful swelling.

Often, edema occurs because of a chemical imbalance within cells caused by mechanical stress. There may also be pathological manifestations of edema.

An individual’s pain and swelling following knee replacement may last up to three weeks and then subside gradually. In some instances, swelling may persist for 3 to 6 months. However, you can ease the pain and swell with medicines or home remedies.

Cure for Swelling After Knee Replacement

Surgeons provide some drugs to prevent swelling and pain after surgery. Besides, the following are a few methods to cure swelling after knee replacement quickly.

Have a Rest

Health experts recommend complete bed rest after surgery. Avoid heavy walking during this bed rest period, as it can cause strain to the affected area. Therefore, it is necessary to stop regular activities for at least the first few days following surgery; this will help reduce swelling and improve healing.

Applying heat or cold to the area alleviates pain and helps your swelling better.

Wear Compression Stockings After the Surgery

Another helpful way to reduce swelling after ankle replacement is the use of compression stockings. The purpose of compression stockings is to reduce swelling in the ankles, feet, and lower legs. Along with reducing swelling, compression stockings prevent fluid from building up in affected tissues.

medical-compression-stockings-for-the-treatment-of-swollen-foot-after-knee-replacement
Medical compression stockings for the treatment of varicose veins

These stockings come in a variety of compression levels. Your doctor will determine which is the best compression level for you.

Lay Down and Elevate the Leg Above the Level of the Heart

Elevating the surgical leg above the level of the heart contributes to reducing the swollen foot after surgery. As a rule, legs should be elevated while seated or reclining, so excess fluid does not collect around the damaged area.

elevating-legs-above-heart-level-after-knee-replacement-helps-to-cure-post-operative-swelling

After a leg injury, you are more likely to develop a dangerous blood clot if you don’t elevate your leg, particularly if you spend most of your time sitting or lying in bed. Prop up injured areas while sleeping with soft pillows.

Exercise for a Swollen Knee After Knee Surgery

Mild exercise after knee replacement is important to avoid swelling, fluid retention and accelerate the recovery from surgery. The question is, what exercises are best after knee surgery? After surgery, avoid weight lifting and high-intensity exercise.

The following are some mild exercises you can do at home after knee surgery:

  • Ankle Pumps
  • Heel Slides
  • Sitting Assisted Knee Bend
  • Knee Press
  • Straight Leg Raise
  • Heel Raises
  • Standing Hip Bending
  • Sitting Knee Extension
  • Standing Hip Extension
  • Standing Terminal Knee Extension
  • Standing Hip Abduction
  • Standing Knee Bending

Use Ice Packs on Your Knees

In order to reduce swelling immediately after surgery, ice can restrict blood flow to the affected area and slow cellular metabolism. To deliver cold to a particular part of the body, you can use cold packs, ice baths, cryotherapy chambers, or ice baths.

In the first few days after an injury, apply ice every 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to the affected area; wrap it in a thin cloth.

Icing-the-affected-area-after-knee-surgery-helps-to

Do Ankle Pump

Ankle pump is a simple and most effective exercise to reduce swelling at home. Indeed, this helps in the regulation of blood circulation and prevents blood clots in the legs. By moving the ankle, the calf muscles help to decrease swelling and prevent deep vein thrombosis.

It is perfect for doing anything anytime, anywhere while lying on the bed or even on the floor. Also, it does not require any equipment. Check out this step-by-step process.

  • Put your feet out in front of you while lying down or sitting on a firm bed.
  • Put your feet as far away from your knees as possible.
  • Point your toes down while you pull your toes up toward your head.
  • Do this 30 times, three times a day.
knee-pumps-are-recommended-after-knee-surgery-to-reduce-fluid-retention-risk

You can perform the exercise with both ankles simultaneously or separately.

Diet

There is no need to change your normal diet. If you feel queasy, try plain rice, toast, broiled chicken, or yogurt; these foods are low in fat and anti-inflammatory. Make sure you drink enough water unless your doctor says otherwise.

The first few days after your surgery, your bowel movements may be irregular. You should expect this. Be careful not to strain or become constipated after your surgery. Fiber supplements may help you. In the event that you haven’t had one after a couple of days, you should talk to your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Below is the list of anti-inflammatory foods that help to reduce a swollen foot after knee surgery.

How Long Does It Take for Swelling to Go Down After Knee Surgery?

Recovery from knee replacement surgery is gradual, but it is well worth the effort, as it helps to improve mobility. Aside from that, you will not experience stiffness, pain, or swelling.

However, after a knee operation, you might be concerned about a swollen foot. Don’t fret; it’s just a recovery sign and will disappear within 2 to 3 weeks. Withal, swelling can last from 3 to 6 months in cases of fluid retention.

Therefore, it is recommended to visit your physician, or a rehabilitation center, frequently to prevent future complications. An experienced physiotherapist can also help you to recover faster from symptoms.

Leg Swelling Years After Surgery

Although swelling may occur up to six months after knee replacement, if it occurs longer than that, it’s a medical emergency, and you should visit your surgeon right away. Post-operative swelling years after surgery may indicate the following medical conditions: 

  • Prosthetic joint infection
  • Deep vein thrombosis

Prosthetic joint infections can occur immediately after surgery, weeks/months later, or even years later. Prosthetic joints that are infected require radiological and blood examinations, as well as revision surgery.

prosthetic-joint-infections

Following are the symptoms that indicate swelling is due to prosthetic joint infection.

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Fluid formation
  • Fluid discharge
  • Inflammation

Besides infection, deep vein thrombosis may also result in a swollen foot. A blood clot forms in the veins of the legs, causing this condition. Vein thrombosis is a significant side effect after knee replacement. To avoid this condition, doctors advise you to do ankle pumps frequently and start moving asap. In most cases, a patient is able to walk within one to two days following surgery.

deep-vein-thrombosis

These symptoms suggest thrombosis is the cause of your swelling:

Patients are usually prescribed certain medicines and drugs to avoid these conditions. For instance, blood-thinning medicines such as enoxaparin or aspirin are used to reduce the chance of blood clotting. Moreover, compression stockings are also used to prevent the chances of clot formation and fluid retention.

ways-to-reduce-swelling-after-knee-surgery

How to Reduce Swelling After ACL Surgery?

The anterior cruciate ligament is the grafting of a damaged ligament with a new one. Consequently, it may cause tiredness, numbness, or swallowing around the knees and legs. These symptoms may go away on their own, and you’ll see improvement.

rupture-anterior-cruciate-ligament

How long it takes to recover fully depends on your rehab program and strategy to heal. The following factors will help you recover from the swelling after ACL surgery.

  • Try to walk a little as soon as possible.
  • Take bed rest when you’re tired.
  • Use ice packs or cold compression after 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Keep your legs elevated above the level of your heart.
  • Don’t do any strenuous activity.
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
  • Take medicines on the prescription of the surgeon.
  • Take care of your wound. Keep your bandage dry and clean.

Fluid Retention in Leg After Knee Surgery

Fluid retention after surgery affects almost every patient after surgery. Technically this condition is called edema. In the case of edema, the fluid becomes trapped in bodily tissue, particularly in the legs, feet, and ankle.

This condition leads to painful swelling, and you may notice one leg is bigger than the other. Edema may occur due to tissue death, circulatory problems, weight gain, kidney dysfunction, or IV fluid given during surgery.

edema

To lower the symptoms of edema, you can follow the following tips.

  • Lower the intake of salt
  • Use diuretics
  • Stop the use of alcohol and narcotics
  • Use support stocking
  • Take prescription medicines
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid dehydrating drinks (tea, coffee).

A person who avoids edema symptoms may end up swelling. Edema may cause mobility difficulties, stiffness, painful swelling, stretched and itchy skin, and even worsen over time if left untreated.

Immediate Contact Doctor

While swelling is natural after surgery, it is important to inform your doctor to avoid complications. You should seek medical attention immediately if any of the following conditions occur after surgery.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain & shortness of breath
  • Numbing and tingling in legs and feet
  • Skin becomes pale, bluish, greenish, or yellowish in the affected area
  • Symptoms of blood clots — redness or swelling in legs or groin, pain in calf, legs, foot, groin)
  • Stomach sickness (you can’t keep fluids down)
  • Taking painkillers doesn’t work to relieve pain
  • Loose stitches
  • Incisions become visible
  • Bleeding from the incision
  • Symptoms of infection — redness, warmth, severe pain, pus drainage, red streaks, fever

Dos and Don’ts After Knee Surgery

After knee surgery, you will probably experience some pain and challenges during recovery. Even if it seems difficult now, your actions after surgery are as crucial as the surgery itself.

The following are the few dos and don’ts after surgery:

  • Follow your doctor’s directions carefully after surgery.
  • You must take rehabilitation seriously
  • Make use of ice and heat packs
  • Strive to maintain your healthiest self
  • Don’t put too much strain on your knee
  • During your recovery, don’t schedule another surgical procedure
  • Never give up!

Fast-Healing Foods to Eat After Surgery

Nutrition is another important factor in improving the recovery speed of surgery. You need to consume a diet that is anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, and therapeutic. As a result, nutrition contributes to a smooth transition from the hospital to home.

fast-healing-foods-to-eat-after-surgery

Following is the complete list of foods option that can be helpful during your recovery period:

  • Fruits (pomegranates, grapes, oranges, apples, melon, peaches, apricot, papaya, tomatoes, mango)
  • Avocado
  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, goji berries)
  • Vegetables (carrot, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oils (olive oil, coconut oil)
  • Fish
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, romaine lettuce)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Iron and protein
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Probiotics (kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat, rye sourdough bread, wild rice, steel-cut oats)
  • Water

Food to Avoid After Knee Surgery

Food can be a medicine or poisonous to you. No doubt, you may crave some sweet or spice after surgery, but these can deprive your body of essential nutrients and may slow down your healing process.

healthy-food-selection-after-a-knee-surgery

Here is the list of food categories you should avoid to prevent infection and complications:

  • Food and drinks with added sugar
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Highly processed food
  • Dehydrating food
  • Alcohol and pain pills may be deadly for you

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Conclusion

No doubt, time after the knee replacement is challenging, but you should be careful in this time zone. A swollen foot after knee surgery and some other side effects are sure to occur, but fortunately, they are short-term and can go away on their own. Moreover, medicines and a good diet may help you to improve these side effects quickly.

However, immunity to heals is different for everyone. Thus, it is important to follow all the guidelines provided by your surgeon to heal faster. After recovery from knee replacement, you can welcome a swift-moving life!

FAQs

Why is my knee so tight after surgery?

Arthrofibrosis is a fibrotic joint condition that develops when a knee or joint has been damaged. It is distinguished by excessive collagen production and adhesion, leading to restricted joint motion, stiffness, and pain. Scar tissue grows up inside the knee over time, causing the joint to shrink and tighten.

How long should I ice after ACL surgery?

Icing the wound within 24 hours of surgery helps to reduce the swelling and pain. It is advisable to ice the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes after every 1 to 2 hours. Make sure to use ice wrap in a piece of cloth. It not only lowers the swelling but also improves the healing process.

Is it normal to have a lot of bruising after knee replacement surgery?

Bruising after knee replacement surgery is normal, and you don’t need to be alarmed by it. It will go away on its own, as the body will be able to reabsorb the blood. Besides bruising, some people may experience small blisters around the incision, wound, or knee.

Why is the pain worse at night after knee replacement?

After 2 to 3 weeks of recovery, you may be able to stop using narcotic medications. Simultaneously, your activity level will rise in response to the demands of your rehabilitation program. It may result in physical pain, which can be worse at night.

How to walk after knee surgery?

When your surgery is done, it is recommended to avoid putting stress and strain on your legs. For easy walking, try to use crutches, a cane, or a walker at home or outside. Your doctor or therapist can recommend you the best walking support.

To avoid walking with a limp, use a heel-toe pattern. You can gradually increase your distance and level of effort until you can walk without pain or limits.

What causes swelling in the knees and legs after surgery?

A swollen foot after knee surgery is the post-operative effect. It leads to the healing of the incision. It could be caused by an influx of healing cells into the affected area.

Aneeza Pervez

My name is Aneeza Pervez. I am a medical content writer. I enjoy travelling, writing, reading, composing, and singing. As a health advocate, I educate people about how to be healthy through my content. Health is wealth, so do your best to keep it!

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