Elevating Knee After Surgery

By Drew Heideman, PT/ATC

Can I place a pillow under my knee to keep it bent and make it more comfortable after surgery?
Following surgery many patients may be asked to elevate their involved leg to help to control swelling in the extremity. The natural thing for many patients to do is to place a rolled or folded up pillow behind the knee. Initially this can make your knee feel comfortable or have “less pressure”.  However, this can cause contractures or problems with how far you are able to extend your knee in the future. This can slow the rehabilitation process following knee surgery and lead to increased pain. Instead, when elevating the leg use pillows or a stool. Place the pillow or stool under the ankle and calf to allow the knee to remain straight. Doing this will help to prevent a loss of knee extension range of motion and help to keep the knee straight, while still allowing for management of pain and swelling.


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