Massage after knee surgery? How It Can Help Your Healing

Massage after knee surgery? How It Can Help Your Healing

“The effects of massage therapy on pain, swelling and range of motion after total knee replacement surgery was examined in 2015 research published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science. ( ) The study found that massage is a comparable alternative to physical therapy to manage knee edema early in postoperative recovery.”

Itmight seem counterintuitive to think about massage after knee replacementsurgery when the pain of recovery can sometimes be greater than the pain that originally sent you for the procedure! The process of knee replacement involves cutting into muscles around the knee joint which causes the body to respond to such severe trauma with inflammation and ultimately withthe growth of scar tissue. However, the research and physiological wisdom suggests that healing can occur more efficiently if massage is an integral part of the recovery strategy. Here’s why:

Deep tissue massage when administered a few weeks post-surgery can help relieve the swelling and promote relaxation. Itcan help calm muscle spasm responses and can support the flow of blood supply to the area to promote healing, reduce swelling andturn the volume down on pain. It can also pre-emptively breakdown scar tissue that causes stiffness and restricted motiontoallow you to return more quickly to your pre-surgery bend capability.What does that means in real life? … the ability to navigate stairs, play with your kids, walk and run and ride a bicycle sooner.

The genius of massage is in its ability to move fluids that the body has sent to the injured area back into the blood vessels where they should be which results in reduction of swelling and inflammation. Massage in post-op knee replacement begins with emphasis on the thigh and hamstring muscles to help reduce muscle tension that causes spasming and cramping in the area. Additionally, a general full-body massage can help relieve tension, stress and anxiety and can stimulate circulation to all tendons and muscles including those in the knee area.

Long-term recovery for knee replacement involves the ability for the new knee to work with the existing structure. Part of that workability is alignment which is a specialty that massage can deliver. While physical therapy can increase muscle strength, it is massage techniques that have the ability to train all parts of your knee to work together – the end result is less pain, smoother action and improved range of motion so that you can resume normal life activities sooner than later.

If knee replacement has been part of your life recently, consider how massage therapy might help you get back into the game!

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