Swelling and physio

Posted , 11 users are following.

I am really struggling keeping the swelling under control. I am using an ice cuff and elevating my leg as much as possible but as soon as I start walking around and do my physio ( 3 times a day) my knee really swells. I still can't lift my leg and after suggestions on what on here I am using a dog lead to lift my leg and pull my knee back. I have my second physio appointment on Tuesday and I am worried about the negative feedback I might get. I am really trying but swelling and pain are stopping my progress. I am 3  weeks in on Tuesday and know these are early days. Is the swelling normal as it feels like a band around my leg and the stiffness each morning is not getting better. Any suggestions? 

1 like, 26 replies

26 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Susie

    You are still in the very early stages of recovery. You've had a major operation, let's not be shy about this, your leg has been sliced & diced! I don't know if you viewed the op on YouTube but it is brutal! So give yourself a bit of a break, your body needs to repair before the really hard work begins. I'm not saying don't do the Physio, what I'm saying is don't try to do it all in one go, do the work they want but spread it over the day until you are a bit stronger. Then go for it.

    You are bang on for 3 weeks, swelling, heat & the 'band' around your knee all normal. I still get swelling, & if I do too much it really swells & I am over 6 months out now! When I bend my knee fully I still feel a little of the band! That swelling, & it can go right down the leg, can last over 12 months.

    Also don't worry about any negativity from your physiotherapist, it's your knee, if you see an improvement what more do you want? You know how bad your knee was before the op, how is it now? Only you know how much better the knee is now. Your Physio didn't even know you then!

    Keep up the icing, elevation, resting & do your exercises frequently. Little & often is best, don't leave yourself exhausted & crying, do as Ali suggests, she knows.

    You have a long road to travel, but remember we all travel it together, some of us are further along that road, some will be behind you, but we are all on the road to try to get back to 'normality' & we will .... eventually.

    Just remember there is always someone here with a sympathetic ear. You will find that friends eyes will start to glaze over when you relate to them how the knee was throbbing in the night or your Physio must have come from a terrorist training camp! Lol. But we however will always listen & reply.

    I wish you well,



  • Posted

    Hi i can only say Susiemah it is very early days for you so listen to the advice you get on this forum i did and its helped me so much im il be 9 weeks this tuesday and my bend only 50 i was so worried but i see small changes every day so i now take a day at a time.good luck dont be to hard on yourself .
    • Posted

      You are right I am always hard on myself. Thanks for your comments. 
  • Posted

    At only three weeks, to me you sound great. I could not lift my leg myself.

    If you are doing all the items they have given you multiple times per day then you,are doing the best you can. STAY POSITIVE, don't let someone dictate how you recover, it is different for everyone. You can do it, don't give up, just follow the process. At times I get discouraged thinking it is going way too slow. I have to stop and remind myself how far I have come.

    • Posted

      Thanks and I am going to do my best and it is only day 19. I feel more positive after reading your supportive comments. 
  • Posted

    Susiemah, I believe this is normal. My knee did and still feels as if there is a band around it especially when I start moving around or walking on it, and my surgery has been 8 weeks now. I was really concerned about the swelling also but everyone says it's normal even my doctor said its normal.

  • Posted

    Three weeks?  Welcome to the club, "Kneebie".  At three weeks I was either unconscious or writhing in pain.  Nothing seemed to help.  Against MD orders, I did elevate the leg on a pillow to go to sleep...worked for me.  At your point in time, the swelling is totally normal...and your PT knows it.  If you are not doing a lot of walking, then you're fine...if you do too much walking, the swelling will get worse...back off...

    I started PT at 3 weeks and was -14 / +84.  Took 10 weeks and a lot of pain/work to get to -1 / +123.  This will hurt...a lot.  Some people take meds before PT.  Great idea but DON'T DRIVE!!!  When you get to PT, notice the subtle signs of a Dungeon Master's theme...like the Iron Maiden in the corner and The Rack...standard equipment.  When it's time, they will put your ankle on a block of wood and press down on the knee.  Probably the most fun you've had in a while...but absolutely necessary to break down the scar tissue. 

    "You've got to go through hell before you get to heaven." - Steve Miller Band, Jet Airliner

    Dog lead?  Me too.  Helps lift the leg into bed.  Standard equipment.  The best things you can do at 3-4 weeks:

    - Never miss a PT appointment

    - Take meds an hour before if you can

    - At PT, dream about being in Hawaii

    - Elevate and ice...a lot

    - Take your meds religiously

    - Stop thinking about where you "should be" in your recovery

    BIG ONE: You are at the worst part of this...but it does get better.  Do not measure your progress day to day...it will drive you nutz.  Better every 10-14 days.  Then you can look back and see where you used to be.

    ANOTHER BIG ONE:  Never compare your recovery to that of anyone else.  All the stories on here are GREAT but you have to write your own.  It's yours and yours alone.  Have ZERO time expectations ("Oh, I'm at x weeks...I should be..."wink.  They're all Jedi Mind Tricks.  Instead, be Zen: "I'll be better when I'm better."  You should have a sign at your door: "Give up thine expectations, all ye who enter here."

    Oh, that tight band feeling? Can last 12-18 months.  Ignore it...totally normal.  Here are some links that might help.






    You are not alone.  I was where you are now.  At almost 14 months post-op, I can look back on all of it in horror...err...no, I really mean...hmmmm...yeah, horror is a good word.  The problem is that no one prepares you for this...not even the docs.  I've had four knee scopes, two shoulders, a hip replacement, back fusion and more.  I thought I'd skate right through this.  Even booked a gig with my band for the following weekend.  Only one word to describe my state of mind...


    This is the most brutal op on the planet and the most painful, longest recovery of them all.  If you read the Bell Curve post, you'll know that this will take a year...period.  Accept it, own it.  You'll feel more peaceful inside.  TAKE YOUR MEDS ON TIME...ALL THE TIME.  The first 60 days are the worst...after that, it eases up.  And smile a bit...


    Good luck.

    • Posted

      Thanks so much Chico Marx that has really helped me. I am going to read the posts etc and start tmrw with a new frame of mind. I thought I would be back at work after 6 weeks (teacher) but don't think I will be. Thanks again it means a lot to know so much support is on this forum.

    • Posted

      Not likely.  Read "Bell Curve".  Most people return to a full day's work with minimal problems at six months...give or take.  Yes, we had a guy on here who was mountain climbing at 13 weeks...but that kind of chutzpah could leave you dead.

      The problem is not just having your ROM back but you have to rebuild your quads, glutes and core to support the knee.  Without that strength, people who returned too soon report, extreme fatigue, pain and swelling and more.  You can't expect to stand, walk, teach and more without any consequences that will only cause more pain and set your recovery back.

      Here's the post-PT exercise program...


      This is serious stuff.  Plus, it's the end of the school year...they have subs...return whole in September.  YOU COME FIRST!!!

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