How Bad Is the Pain After Knee Surgery?


Quick Answer

Pain is often severe after knee surgery, and bruising and swelling often accompany the significant levels of discomfort. Receiving pain medication such as oxycodone, fentanyl or morphine intravenously after the procedure is common because of the level of pain, according to Healthline.

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Full Answer

Opioid medications only are used for a couple of days, as patients move to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen at prescription strength, unless the pain remains extreme. As recovery continues over the next few weeks, patients transition to over-the-counter NSAIDs and acetaminophen. Patients enter a program of physical therapy, including massages and exercises, to reduce inflammation and the accompanying pain. During these weeks, the pain in the knee diminishes in most cases, states Healthline.

Other strategies for reducing the pain, swelling and bruising after the surgery include elevating the affected leg on a pillow for at least an hour each afternoon or early evening, performing postoperative exercises as directed by the doctor or physical therapist, and applying an ice pack at least three times a day for 10 to 20 minutes each day. Sleeping in compression stockings for the first six weeks after surgery also helps with pain and reduces the possibility of a blood clot. The physical therapist may incorporate a TENS unit or another device to boost the flow of blood to the knee, reducing pain at the same time. A TENS unit sends electrical currents to the nerves, alleviating pain, as stated by Healthline.

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