Managing Your Discomfort
When you go home, there are a variety of things you need to know for your safety, your speedy recovery and your comfort. After reading through the information that follows, it may be helpful to review the section titled “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.”
Controlling Your Discomfort
- Take your pain medicine at least 30 minutes before your physical therapy.
- Gradually wean yourself from prescription medication to Tylenol. You may take two extra strength Tylenol in place of your prescription medication up to four times per day.
- Change your position every 45 minutes throughout the day.
- Use ice to assist in pain control. Applying ice to your affected joint will decrease discomfort but do not use more than 20 minutes at a time each hour. You can use it before and after your exercise program. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a kitchen towel makes an ideal ice pack. Mark the bag of peas and return them to the freezer (to be used as an ice pack later). We also have a larger, more efficient device for purchase in our office. You can view the benefits of this device at cryotherapy.
- If swelling in the operative leg is bothersome, elevate the leg for short periods of time throughout the day. After surgery, it is very normal for the extremity to swell. Gravity is a great way to reduce this swelling since all fluids tend to move to seek the lowest force of gravity. This means your legs have to be higher than your heart. It is normally recommended that your legs have to at least 10 cm with the hip bent no more than 45 degrees and the knee bent at 20 degrees. This can be accomplished with the use of a large couch cushion and a smaller bed pillow. Place the larger couch cushion on your bed followed by a standard pillow from your bed on top of the cushion. You should elevate your leg at least twice a day while awake. And during most of the night for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Some patients require more, but this is a bare minimum. Simple ankle pump exercises and calf stretching exercises can help mobilize excessive fluid and stagnant blood in your legs to reduce the chance of a blood clot. These should be done at least 10 times every hour while awake until you are able to walk normally. Here is a link to a video explaining how to perform these exercises: https://youtu.be/GyDEvpxduNc
- Your appetite may be poor. Drink plenty of fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Your desire for solid food will return.
- You may have difficulty sleeping. This is not abnormal. Don’t sleep or nap too much during the day.
- Pain medication contains narcotics, which promote constipation. Use stool softeners or laxatives such as milk of magnesia if absolutely necessary.