How to Relieve Pain After Joint Replacement Surgery

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Although joint replacement surgery offers long-term relief, patients still experience a considerable period of expected pain after the surgery is complete and the body heals. Through your doctor’s recovery plan, you will find some relief in a few weeks. Still, understandably, many of our patients want to pull out all the stops they can to relieve and manage pain.

With the proper techniques, you can take steps to support your recovery beyond your post-operative plan. Understanding how to relieve pain after surgery naturally can help boost recovery and mitigate your pain, as natural methods can be a great supplement to your post-operative recovery plan when used correctly.

Why You Have Pain After Surgery

Joint replacement surgery is a source of relief, helping to repair and reduce the pain associated with damaged joints. Unfortunately, pain is still a reality for some time after surgery as your body heals and recovers. Some common causes of pain after surgery include:

  • Inflammation and swelling of the area
  • Tissue damage at the incision site
  • Your body adjusting to the new materials in the joint

On the bright side, these causes of pain are temporary and should resolve after the area has time to heal completely. If your pain worsens, it could be a sign of another issue, and you should consult your doctor. Otherwise, the above causes of pain are a natural result of surgery and will alleviate over a few weeks.

Natural Pain Relief Methods

Natural pain relief methods are great for encouraging your body’s natural healing process and relieving pain, all without affecting your provider’s recovery plan. When used properly, these methods can be an excellent source of support in post-surgery pain management.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Heat and cold therapy can help manage blood flow to the affected area, reduce swelling, and control pain. Cold temperatures decrease blood flow and reduce swelling. Cold therapy is best used within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

Meanwhile, heat therapy helps open up your blood vessels and increase blood flow to a target area. This increased blood flow helps bring nutrients and oxygen vital for tissue repair. Heat therapy is most effective when used after the initial 48 hours following surgery.

To use a heat pack properly:

  1. Choose a heating pad or warm a wet washcloth in the microwave for one minute
  2. Apply the pack to the target area
  3. Hold the compress on the area for about 20 minutes

To use a cold compress effectively:

  1. Grab a bag of ice or an ice pack
  2. Use a cloth to place a layer between the ice and your skin
  3. Hold the cloth to your skin for about 15-20 minutes

Use heat and cold therapy for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Avoid falling asleep with heat or ice on the target area, as applying these for too long could lead to tissue damage.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Despite the effectiveness of rest, movement is a powerful tool in recovery and pain relief too. Exercises done during physical therapy activate and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints, which helps to stabilize the joint, improve joint function, and reduce pain.

Physical therapy encourages mobility and movement, which can increase blood flow to the tissue surrounding the joint and support the body’s natural healing process. Exercise also increases flexibility and functionality of the area, promoting recovery and reducing stiffness that can cause pain.

Mind-Body Techniques

“Mind over matter” is not a completely reliable concept when it comes to pain, but your mind and body are, in fact, connected. As a result, relaxation techniques are an excellent way to calm your mind and take focus off your pain. Some techniques to promote relaxation include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery, or visualizing calming images
  • Listening to calming music

Stress can make pain worse by increasing inflammation. Since surgery and recovery can be stressful processes, it’s essential that you have stress management techniques in place. Using the above techniques in times of stress can help to mitigate inflammation and pain while promoting your mental health.  

Overcome Joint Pain with JRCS

Our team of board-certified surgeons and compassionate professionals will create a personalized treatment plan to help you manage joint pain and get back to your daily routine.

Lifestyle Modifications

The body is interconnected, so making a few lifestyle adjustments can support holistic health and help you manage pain in a specific area simply by supporting your body’s natural functions. You can mitigate pain by following a healthy routine that incorporates the following strategies.

Nutrition and Diet

Nutrition is an important factor after your surgery. After all, your body needs essential vitamins and nutrients to repair and regrow damaged tissue. The right foods can also provide antioxidants and compounds that reduce inflammation and mitigate pain.

Some foods that can help support pain relief and recovery include:

  • High-protein foods, like meats, soy, and whole grains
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Hot peppers
  • Cherries and berries
  • Salmon and other foods with Omega-3 fatty acids

With a balanced diet including the above foods, you can give your body the fuel to recover and reduce the risk of pain. You should also avoid foods that promote inflammation, like foods with added sugars, processed foods, and high-sodium foods.  

Proper Sleep and Rest

Sleep and rest are essential parts of the recovery process. As you sleep, your body has the chance to repair and restore damaged tissue. Getting adequate sleep and rest will give your body time to recover and speed up the recovery process so that you can minimize the amount of time you have to worry about pain.

Remember that it is important not to overdo your rest and to balance it with gentle activity. Rest gives your body time to repair damaged tissue, while activity helps restore function to the area. If you are unsure what a healthy balance may be, you can always consult your doctor.

Pain Management Techniques

Pain management techniques can help you take focus off your pain both physically and mentally. Following a daily routine with healthy practices can support your recovery and make the process smoother.

Some pain management techniques include:

  • Gentle stretching
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Gentle massage

These activities can stimulate blood flow, which is necessary for healing, without putting too much stress on your body and exacerbating the pain. Plus, these activities are all adaptable so that you can adjust the intensity level and make them as gentle as you need while you heal.

Take the Right Precautions

Although there are many ways to manage pain, there is no substitute for following the advice of your doctor. Remember that natural methods are not a substitute for prescription medication or your provider’s personalized advice. Make sure you follow their post-recovery plan for you first and foremost.

Before attempting natural pain remedies, consult your doctor to ensure they are a good idea for you. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with more specific guidance on which methods may work for you. Everyone is different, and some pain-relief methods may make sense for some people more than others, depending on their specific case.

If your pain gets worse and is not going away after surgery, it may be a sign of infection or loosening. Keeping in communication with your provider will allow you to catch any complications early and ensure you receive the best outcome from your surgery.

Find the Right Support at the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale

Despite the benefits of joint replacement surgery, the pain afterward can be difficult to manage. However, natural methods can make pain management easier. Regardless of your natural pain relief strategy, having the support of a medical provider is essential for a smooth recovery.

To mitigate pain and complications, be sure to see an experienced provider that will ensure your comfort and support your needs from start to finish. At the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale, you can expect an exceptional patient experience from our state-of-the-art surgical methods to our advanced customer care.

Our team, led by Dr. Shane Martin, consists of experts in robotic joint replacement, with over 16,000 successful procedures under our belts. Schedule a consultation with the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale today and begin your path to recovery.