How Can Cryotherapy Help Following Knee Surgery & During Physical Therapy?

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If you are facing a knee surgery, you'll need to understand that you may experience significant swelling in your knee. Swelling is very common after knee surgery, and it can add to the pain. More importantly, however, swelling in the knee can limit mobility and cause the muscles in the thigh to be ineffective, which can make it more difficult to begin physical therapy. If swelling is prolonged, the affected muscles can begin to atrophy.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to minimize the amount of swelling in your knee following surgery, including cryotherapy. Here's what you'll need to do for a successful outcome. 

Cryotherapy in Conjuction with Surgery Recovery 

Cryotherapy is the use of cold to combat the swelling in the knee. Cryotherapy can also improve circulation in the knee as well as improve the knee's range of motion. A cold therapy unit is a machine that is designed to provide cold therapy to a joint. The machine contains a cold liquid solution that is circulated to a wrap that you place around your knee. The machine circulates the cold liquid solution from the unit to the wrap and back again throughout a therapy session. The length of a session will be determined by your surgeon but can typically be about 20-30 minutes of cold followed by 20-30 minutes of rest. Follow the guidelines and recommendations given to you by your surgeon. 

Cryotherapy in Conjunction with Physical Therapy 

When you are ready to begin physical therapy, which will be determined by your surgeon, cryotherapy can also be used to reduce the amount of swelling you may experience in your knee after physical therapy sessions. Your physical therapist will likely end each session with some time with a cryotherapy unit and knee wrap. Because of this, be sure to wear comfortable clothing that would not interfere with the wearing of the wrap for the cryotherapy unit. If your knee is swollen when you return home from your physical therapy sessions, feel free to use the cryotherapy unit as needed. If your medical insurance limits the time length for the loan of a cryotherapy unit, you can continue using cryotherapy without a cold unit simply by using ice packs or cold packs in its place. 

Speak with your knee surgeon for more information regarding the use of a cryotherapy cold unit as well as to establish a protocol for physical therapy in conjunction with cryotherapy.