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Knee Replacement Wedge Pillow: Prepare for TKA

Before your TKA (total knee arthroplasty) surgery, you want to have all the tools you need to be successful. Keep reading to learn how a knee replacement wedge pillow will help your recovery.

Why use a wedge pillow for knee replacement?

A wedge pillow for knee surgery is one tool that will help aid your recovery. After the procedure, your entire leg will be swollen. The quicker the swelling goes down, the quicker you recover. Elevating your legs for 15-20 minutes, several times a day will aid your body in eliminating leg swelling.

After any knee surgery, especially a total knee replacement, it is very important to get your full range of motion back. Initially, you will want to avoid lying in bed with your knee bent for long periods of time. Moving your knee regularly is the fastest way to recover!

lying flat without wedge pillow
Lying flat without a knee replacement wedge pillow

A wedge pillow for knee replacement helps to prevent back pain. For the first few weeks after surgery, you will be spending a more-than-normal amount of time in bed. Lying flat in bed can increase tension on your low back and hips. Resting the weight of your legs on a wedge pillow will immediately take pressure off your back.

comfortable with a knee wedge pillow

You don’t want to lie in bed with your legs on a triangle leg wedge pillow for hours and hours at a time. This can cause stiffness in your knee replacement and make it more difficult for you to achieve full range of motion. However, if your are diligently performing the exercises given to you by your physical therapist, 15-20 minutes of rest and elevation, several times a day, is important and beneficial.

Exercising with a knee wedge pillow

One way to utilize a wedge pillow after knee replacement is to perform simple exercises while you elevate. When you perform exercises on your wedge pillow, it helps the swelling go down even faster. Your physical therapist will undoubtably show you the following exercises, and many more!

Exercises on a wedge pillow

Two exercises that can be performed immediately after surgery are ankle circles and ankle pumps. Performing these exercises while on a knee wedge pillow will help eliminate swelling in your leg.

Using a knee wedge pillow as a heel prop
Use a knee wedge pillow as a heel prop for stretching

The knee replacement wedge pillow can also be moved down towards the foot of the bed and used as an ankle prop. Resting with your heel on the wedge and your leg as straight as possible, though uncomfortable, is essential. This position will stretch the back of your knee so it will eventually be straight. As you advance, you can perform ankle pumps and ankle circles in this heel prop position.

Short Arc Quads on Knee Replacement Wedge

Another exercise you can perform on top of your knee replacement wedge is short arc quads. This exercise works to strengthen your quadricep muscle. It also helps you to work on straightening your leg. As you advance, you can add ankle weights to give your muscles more of a challenge.

Sleeping after a knee replacement

incline pillow to help knee extension

A leg elevation pillow with contours can help you sleep after having a knee replacement. The contours cradle the natural shape of your legs while keeping your knee in an extended position. This position can also improve circulation and reduce swelling in your leg.

Initially, it quite likely will be too painful to sleep with your knee fully extended. If this is the case, roll up a small towel or place a small pillow on top of the wedge pillow and under your knee. As your knee replacement heals and it is comfortable for you to do so, remove everything from under your knee and sleep with your leg straight.

Returning to side sleeping using after a knee replacement

Immediately after surgery it will be difficult to get into a side lying position. However, after a few weeks you might be wanting to return to sleeping on your side. You will not be able to sleep on your side without a between the knees wedge pillow. The pressure of one knee on top of another is often unbearable.

Sidelying with between the knees wedge pillow

When looking for a between the knees wedge pillow, look for one that is long, running at least from your pubic bone to past your feet. It should support your top leg so that it is parallel with the bed. Your hip, knee, and ankle should be the same height. This ensures your back and hip muscles are completely at rest. It will also provide cushion for your knee.

A knee replacement wedge pillow will help you recover from your knee surgery. Do everything you can to prepare by getting tools you need to guarantee your success!

-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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