Swelling is a normal response to injury or surgery. Typically, swelling resolves on its own with a few days or weeks. There are instances, however, when swelling does not subside, causing pain and impairing function. Any surgery can result in troubling swelling, but the most common are total knee replacements and heart surgeries where a vein is taken from your leg to use around the heart. The swelling that results after a total knee replacement can impede your rehabilitation by restricting your movement. Once the swelling subsides, your knee is free to extend and flex more easily.
An increase in the girth in the area of the surgery is the most obvious symptom. You may also experience mild pain or increased sensitivity.
What to expect from therapy
Post surgical swelling is typically not as severe as other types of edema, and thus the patient does not typically require intensive swelling management treatment. However, some of the same interventions used for other types of swelling can be used with this as well. Often a short course of manual lymphatic drainage, elevation and compression bandaging can get the swelling under control. Use of a compression garment may or may not be required for long term self management.