Managing Pain After Joint Replacement Surgery: 4 Simple Tips

Managing Pain After Joint Replacement Surgery: 4 Simple Tips

Joint pain can be incredibly difficult to deal with, especially when it interferes with your daily activities. If you've exhausted other options for relief and your joint is significantly damaged, joint replacement surgery may be a suitable solution.

While joint replacement surgery can bring relief, it's common to experience postoperative pain for a few days to weeks after the procedure. Effective pain management is crucial for a successful and speedy recovery.

Understanding Joint Replacement:

Joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which damaged parts of a joint are removed and replaced with artificial components. The goal is to restore joint function and alleviate chronic pain. The artificial components, typically made of metals, rigid plastics, or ceramics, mimic the movement and feel of a natural joint.

There are various reasons why someone may need joint replacement surgery, with arthritis being one of the most common causes. Arthritis comes in different forms, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks the joint lining, resulting in pain and inflammation.
  • Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a prevalent form of arthritis that affects joint cartilage. It is a degenerative condition that wears away the protective tissues surrounding the joint's bones.

What to Expect Regarding Post-Surgery Pain:

The level of pain experienced after joint replacement surgery varies from person to person, depending on individual pain tolerance, the type of joint replaced, and overall health. However, it is common to experience pain in the initial weeks as the body heals the surgical incision and adjusts to the new joint.

After the procedure, you may receive intravenous pain medication to ensure comfort during the first day. Subsequently, you will transition to oral pain medication to manage pain during the initial week or so after the operation.

As time progresses, you should experience a decrease in pain, swelling, and discomfort in the newly replaced joint. It is important to contact your doctor promptly if you experience heightened pain or notice increased redness and swelling.

3 Effective Tips for Pain Management:

While postoperative pain is expected after joint replacement surgery, implementing these simple strategies can help control discomfort and promote a smoother recovery:

  1. R.I.C.E. Method:
  • Rest the joint when experiencing pain.
  • Apply ice packs (wrapped in a cloth) to the joint for approximately 10-15 minutes, twice per day.
  • Consider using a compression bandage to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Elevate the affected joint while resting to minimize swelling.
  1. Early Pain Medication:
  • Begin taking your prescribed pain medication before the pain becomes severe as suggested by your doctor.
  • If you had a nerve block or spinal epidural during the surgery, ensure you take your pain medication before the block wears off. Additionally, your doctor may recommend you take over-the-counter medications (medical prescription not needed and commonly available at your nearest pharmacy) can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation surrounding the joint.
  1. Engage in Physical Therapy at VanCity Physio:
  • Physical therapy is essential after joint replacement surgery, not only for mobility but also for pain management.
  • Working with a physical therapist will help increase joint strength, improve range of motion, and reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy also enhances blood circulation to the joint, facilitating a faster recovery.

For further information on managing pain after joint replacement surgery, visit our website or feel free to contact VanCity Physio by calling 604-398-5584 or simply click here to book an appointment online. Hope to see you soon!