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Leg Swelling


Strategies to Reduce Postoperative Swelling

Following total joint replacement surgery, most patients develop swelling in the operated leg. Although the amount of swelling can vary from patient to patient, the swelling itself, in the leg, knee, ankle or foot, is normal and may be accompanied by “black and blue” bruising that will usually resolve gradually over several weeks.

For the first month after your operation, prolonged sitting with your foot in a down position tends to worsen the swelling. You should not sit for more than 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Periods of walking should be alternated with periods of elevating your leg in bed. When elevating the leg, the ankle should be above the level of the heart. Lying down for an hour in the late morning or afternoon helps reduce swelling.

To prevent or reduce leg and ankle swelling:

  • Elevate operated leg in bed on 1 to 2 pillows while lying flat.
  • Avoid sitting for longer than 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
  • Perform ankle exercises.
  • Apply ice to your surgical area for 20 minutes a few times a day (before and after exercises).
  • Some doctors may recommend the use of support hose.