Heat or ice at night

Posted , 11 users are following.

I am now 5 weeks post op. Doing ok during daytime utility continue to have really severe pain at night. Only get a out 2 hrs at best before pain wakes me up. Should I ice or heat knee. I have been putting ice on it utility am thinking I should be trying to loosen my stiff knee so would heat not be better. Confused. Meds not helping much

Thank you

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28 Replies

  • Posted

    Cathy , ice is best! Experiencing the same thing,ice on and off throughout the day. Nights suck! In my 6 week post op no energy always tired, pain diminishing tho!
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  • Posted


    Being someone that had both knees replaced at one time . I say go with both heat to help with stiffness (I got a heating pad ) best thing I ever did, just for a few minutes in the morning and then use ice foe swelling. Also adk your doctor if you can take an over the counter pain med free sleep aid. I did once i started sleeping through the noght my recovery zoomed . I am 8 months post op and have been back to work waiting tables since 4 months after surgey, full time .SLEEP is the key.

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  • Posted

    Hi Cathy

    I am 12 weeks post op this week. It is confusing. I usually ice my knee in the evening to try and calm it down then go to bed. I wake every 2-3 hours and take pain killers during the night. I have started sleeping with a cushion under my knee to try and ease it which helps although I know we are not supposed to do this but its the only way I get some relief. I also got some stronger pain meds from the GP. I have resigned myself to this lasting up to a year before I can say I am normal again as this seems a more realistic time frame than the 6-8 weeks i was told by the consultant. everyone I have met or spoken to since are taking much longer. So don't worry, keep going!

    I would try heat and see if it helps, if it does great, if not you have lost nothing. I am waiting now for appointment at hydrotherapy, the physio thinks it will help with getting some improvement with the range of movement and bend in the knee. I am willing to try anything that may help.

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    • Posted

      Hi david

      Low energy yes. i sometimes feel ok and think maybe today is the day I start to turn the corner and i will try some cooking or shopping or some other job but after half an hour I am done, get tired really quickly, thats one of the reasons i am not rushing to get back to work. I cant just knock off mid morning or afternoon there and have a rest with my feet up which I can at home. Am trying to go to swimming pool every day during week for little exercise but cant swim properly due to stiff leg and knee but i do exercises in the pool. Notjing seems to be making much difference at the moment but you got to keep trying!!.

      Have started trying to walk more using stick as physio said that would be good for me even though it hurts and will ache a lot. I just hope he knows what he is talking about....


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  • Posted

    Although the hospital and doc will tell you it's verboten, I bought a full-body pillow and used it at night to elevate my leg.  I put one end of the pillow under the hip and extended the rest down under the leg.  The elevation really helped.  I did have to learn to sleep on my back, but that was no problem because I started to sleep well.  Stil needed pain meds every four hours, but at least I slept four hours.

    They recommend it because it keeps your knee bent during the night, which makes it more difficult to straighten, but I traded off with more intense leg-strengthening exerices to make up for it.

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  • Posted

    Hi Cathy,

    Good question. I had both knees replaced a few weeks ago. Ice helps me in the night. Hope it will help you too. It gets better. Take care and don't quit or give up. Keep staying positive.

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  • Posted

    Hi there - it is a difficult journey isn't it. 

    I am in my 7th week post op TKR.

    I have slept on my side with a the new knee on a pillow since I came home from hospital. I was getting pressure sores from sleeping on my back !!

    This position has not affected my bend in my opinion - I am at 110 with 10 straight still to work on.

    Anything that relieves the pain often due to pressure is a good thing in my opinion.

    Ice is for swelling reduction and pain associated with that.

    Now my swelling has almost gone my PT has recommended using a heat pad to help with the bend issue but said don't use heat when it is swollen.

    PT has also assured me the bend will keep improving slowly over time if I can play by the rules.

    I am now able to use a stationary bike which is great for movement in the joint.

    MY hardest thing now is if I sit or lie with the leg straight. I get really strong pain behind the knee and on the outside of it which is apparently the muscles screaming at me that they like being bent and dont wish to straighten - little rat bags !!

    I am feeling so much better every week and know you will get through this.


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    • Posted

      Thank you . It is so much more difficult than I anticipated. I see surgeon this week so hoping to be able to go to pool to exercise. If I could get on top of pain at night and get some sleep I think I would be on my way

      No sleep is driving me crazy just hoping things will improve

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    • Posted

      Nights are the worst !!

      I was prescribed sleeping pills by the anaesthetist - low dose but it gets me off to sleep and usually get 4 hours rest which does help. I am a bit concerned about being addicted but he said the relaxation to the muscles they provide is really beneficial.

      It does get better and I honestly don't think anyone is ever prepared for what we go through.

      I have found I take more pain meds at night and hardly at all during the day now. Saving them for the night has helped me.

      I am allowed to start at the pool next week which I am a bit nervous about apart from all my bits flapping in the wind due to lack of exercise smile

      A bit worried about slipping lol.

      I am going to my surgeon on Friday for the post op follow up and am hoping he will be letting me drive again. I think that will really help me feel more on top of it all as I hate being dependant on others just to leave the house.

      People said to me to sleep during the day but I couldn't do that and just wanted to get a good night routine back.

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    • Posted

      I'm hoping to bring my crutches to the pool to help me balance as I'm a bit unsteady sometimes. Yes no sleep at night is a nightmare. Like you I save pain meds till night. Am hoping to start stationary ikea too next week. Fingers crossed . Thank you

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    • Posted

      I am on a walking stick or one crutch now and I imagine there will be others in the same situation smile

      I started on the bike week 5 and couldn't do a revolution, just rocked back and forth to help the knee mobility and one day I went right round !!! It was terrifying as I expected pain but from then on I would rock for a while and then slowly start to go round fully - make sure the seat is high so the leg is fully extended. Now in week 7 am doing 7 minutes 3 times a day. Distance varies depending on my energy and any pain. I do get a clicking sometimes which is weird.

      I have also started having a good soak in the bath and doing extensions with massage while warm and relaxed. Getting in and out can be interesting lol.

      I am in NZ where are you ? 

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    • Posted

      NZ what a beautiful country.

      Lucky you.

      Swimming pool has also helped me tremendously. After a swim etc. I come out feeling like I never had surgery this lasts for a few hours. I love it.

      Hope you're doing well and on the mend.

      Take care,


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