Should you massage your knee after knee surgery?

Answered by Willie Powers

Massage therapy can be a valuable tool in the recovery process after knee surgery. Knee surgery, such as arthroplasty, can be a major procedure that requires a significant amount of healing and rehabilitation. While massage therapy may not be appropriate immediately following surgery, once the incision has healed and the surgeon has given the go-ahead, it can provide numerous benefits.

One of the primary benefits of massage therapy after knee surgery is its ability to soothe the guarding reaction of tissues. Following surgery, the body often goes into a protective mode, causing muscles to tighten and tissues to become tense. This guarding reaction can limit range of motion and impede proper healing. Massage therapy can help to relax these muscles and tissues, allowing them to return to their normal function and promoting healing.

Additionally, massage therapy can help to reduce swelling and inflammation in the knee. Swelling is a common side effect of knee surgery, and it can be uncomfortable and limit mobility. Massage techniques such as effleurage (long, sweeping strokes) and lymphatic drainage can encourage lymphatic flow and reduce swelling.

Massage therapy can also help to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with knee surgery. Gentle kneading and manipulation of the surrounding muscles can help to relieve tension and reduce pain. It is important to communicate with your massage therapist about your pain levels and any areas of discomfort, so they can tailor the treatment accordingly.

In addition to these physical benefits, massage therapy can also provide emotional support during the recovery process. Knee surgery can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating experience, and having a massage therapist who understands your specific needs and concerns can be a valuable source of support. A skilled therapist will be able to provide a safe and nurturing environment, allowing you to relax and let go of any stress or anxiety related to your recovery.

It is important to note that not all massage therapists are trained in post-surgical massage. When seeking out a massage therapist after knee surgery, it is crucial to find one who has experience and knowledge in working with post-surgical clients. They should be familiar with the specific precautions and contraindications associated with knee surgery, and be able to tailor their treatment to your individual needs.

Before beginning any massage therapy after knee surgery, it is essential to consult with your surgeon or healthcare provider. They will be able to assess your individual situation and provide guidance on when it is safe to start massage therapy and what specific techniques or precautions may be necessary.

Massage therapy can be a valuable tool in the recovery process after knee surgery. It can help to soothe tissues, reduce swelling and inflammation, alleviate pain, and provide emotional support. Working with a skilled massage therapist who is knowledgeable about post-surgical care can help to ensure a safe and effective recovery.