Managing The Pain When Recovering From A Total Knee Joint Replacement

You will likely go home from the hospital after surgery with a painful stiff knee. This is due to the manipulation of the knee during the removal of the old bone and insertion of your artificial joint. Muscles, tendons and other soft tissues are affected by the surgery. Effective pain management while you are recovering at home comes from using a variety of approaches. Here are some ways you can stay comfortable as you are working to get your knee back into shape at home.

Proper Medication Management

Your doctor will give you prescriptions for one or more pain medications. The best way to control the pain with the medications is to take them on a schedule, even if you feel comfortable at the moment. The medication is not as effective once the pain has begun, and it may have little effect if you let the pain become severe. Keep on a schedule to maximize the pain medication's usefulness.

Continuous Passive Motion (CPM)

This approach is effective in reducing pain while moving your knee for the first few days after surgery and before you've started physical therapy. Your leg rests in a cradle while you are lying down. The cradle slowly moves your knee through a limited range of motion to stretch out the muscles that have been idle. This gets your knee accustomed to the movement in preparation for working with a physical therapist. After a few days when you can move your knee by yourself with little or no pain, you'll begin physical therapy and will no longer need the CPM device.

Physical Therapy in the Pool

Should you still have a lot of pain in your knee when you start therapy, your doctor may recommend aquatic physical therapy. Working with a physical therapist in a pool, the water takes the pressure off of your knee. Your knee is supported while you gain benefit from the range of motion exercises. You'll have less pain during and after the session. If the water in the pool is warm, it will increase the circulation in your knee and reduce inflammation. For more information about this option, visit Advanced Physical Therapy.


Some people respond well to acupuncture. Tiny needles are placed just under the skin over areas where nerves collect on their way to muscles and bones. This treatment increases circulation and releases your body's natural painkillers called endorphins. You may find this technique helpful after a physical therapy session when your knee is most likely to be irritated and painful.