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How to Sleep After Knee Replacement Surgery

Following knee replacement surgery, sleep can seem near impossible. This can be concerning for people post-surgery, not only because sleep gives a reprieve from pain but also because it’s essential for healing after knee replacement. While sleeping, your body has time to focus on growing new tissue and restoring more of your health, not to mention that going without sleep is emotionally and mentally exhausting.

To better help those who are about to undergo knee replacement surgery or are recovering from knee surgery, here are some helpful tips for how to sleep after.

Best Positions to Sleep After Knee Replacement

Sleep on Your Back
One of the best ways to sleep after knee replacement surgery is on your back. The sleeping position makes it easy to keep the leg straight, which helps proper blood flow. To ensure your knee is getting the proper support, you can prop up your leg with pillows, just make sure the pillow is underneath the length of your knee and calf to avoid bending it.

Sleep on Your Side
This position you can sleep in, but in a specific way. You’ll want to sleep so that your operating side faces the ceiling, meaning that you do not want to lay on it. That will keep the pressure off the knee you had surgery on. It’s also a better idea to place a pillow or a few between your knees to provide greater support and comfort.

Other Tips to Sleep Better After Surgery On the Knee

  • Icing the knee before bed can help relieve pain.
  • Limit liquids before bed to help prevent bathroom use at night.
  • If prescribed pain medication, take it an hour before sleeping unless otherwise told.

Positions to Avoid After Replacement Surgery

Sleeping on the Stomach
A popular sleeping choice, but one that should be avoided after knee replacement surgery. Sleeping in this position puts excessive pressure on your knee, irritating the surgical site and can harm healing.

Pillow Placement
It can be tempting in certain positions but do not put pillows behind the knee that was operated on. Pillows under the knee cause it to bend, making healing more difficult and upsetting the surgical site.

Pain Relief for Sleeping

If you find it extremely difficult to sleep after surgery, contact your doctor or pain management specialist and discuss your options for sleeping. Poor sleep slows the recovery process, increasing the risk of accidents and the chance that your knee will not heal with the same level of mobility as before surgery. Sleep is imperative to the healing process. The pain will ease as time goes on and it will take some time before you have the kind of rest you did prior to your knee surgery. However, you should never try to go without sleep. 

If you’re finding difficulty sleeping after surgery or in need of surgery on your knee, we encourage you to call (253) 830 – 5200 or request an appointment online to see one of our physicians. At Proliance Puget Sound Orthopaedics, we provide best-in-class orthopedic care to our community with compassion, caring, and dedicated expertise for joint replacement and knee replacement surgery. Contact us today to experience how we can help you. 


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