Pain relief is only one side of the coin when you get knee replacement surgery — recovery is the other. Replacement surgery not only provides pain relief, it’s supposed to return full flexibility and functionality to your legs. So what do you do when your knee stiffness just isn’t going away, and how long is too long for you to wait for your recovery period to be over?
Relief from knee pain is the goal of any knee replacement surgery, but aching joints also affect your mobility and daily function. Over-the-counter supplements and a wide variety of treatments can be used to provide relief without surgery, however. Knee replacement shouldn’t always be your first option.
Night splints, water therapy, vibration therapy and many other physical therapy treatments are available to those seeking knee pain relief. Many of these methods may be used as an alternative to, or following knee replacement surgery. Recovery time can be shortened through regular physical therapy and pain management. But if you do opt for knee replacement surgery, you have every reason to expect it to feel “like new.” When stiffness persists, you’ll want to address the problem.
Knee replacement surgery recovery
Once the initial inflammation and pain of knee replacement surgery fades, your knee joint should function with normal flexibility. In studies of knee replacement surgery, recovery progresses normally the majority of the time. But in 1% of cases, patients feel stiffness in their knee joints following replacement. Stiffness can last through the whole of recovery and rehabilitation, which could last for several months, but in most cases people will regain full use of their joint once this process is complete.
Regular massage and movement can help to reduce stiffness following replacement surgery. Often, this is part of the normal rehabilitation process used for patients who have had their knees replaced even when stiffness isn’t a problem. But sometimes, the calibration of the knee joint may be improperly set, and this can create stiffness too. Patients should inform their physicians at once if they feel stiffness, as the joint may need to be readjusted or replaced.
Consult with your physician if you feel stiffness, and if it persists even with regular therapy and exercise. The whole point of having knee replacement surgery is to regain mobility and function in the joint, and to use it without the pain or stiffness you may have experienced before. Some stiffness is normal for some patients, and it may last for several months, but this stiffness should begin to improve with use and therapy. If it doesn’t, you should definitely seek treatment to learn if there is further work needed on the joint.