How to sleep with a knee prosthesis?

How to sleep with a knee prosthesis?

Knowing how to sleep with a knee prosthesis after the operation is not an easy task. In fact, it is very difficult because of the wound, swelling and some pain.

Rest and sleep speed up the healing process, so it's important to get plenty of rest and sleep.


How to sleep with a knee prosthesis: What you need to know

Needless to say, sleeping will not be easy in the first days after the operation.

  • You will be taking medications that may affect sleep
  • You will have pain which will certainly affect sleep
  • You will be worried about the wound leaking onto the bed or the opening
  • You will be limited on the positions you can sleep in

Ideally, you should sleep on your back. This is the easiest position to sleep in since you have stitches in your knee and a swollen leg.

If you sleep on your stomach, the wound may leak or the bed may rub against the wound. Sleeping on your stomach will also put pressure on the top of the knee where it is most sensitive.

Sleeping on your side is an option but ideally you will want to sleep with the surgically repaired knee closest to the ceiling.

If you can sleep on your back, great. You'll want to support your leg so that it's slightly elevated.

As you recover, the elevation of the leg during sleep will become less. Some doctors think you won't need to sleep with your leg up after a few days.

You can also use a ergonomic pillow to rest the leg having received the prosthesis.




Make sure it's flat under the entire leg, not just at the knee, as this causes the leg to bend. When elevated, the leg should be supported from hip to foot.

Arrange your leg pillows or cushions to support the whole leg, not just one area.

If sleeping on your back in bed is difficult, you can also try a recliner. A recliner is more suited to a seated position, but it can be comfortable sleeping that way at night.

In a recliner, you can always place a wedge pillow under your leg for elevation.

Feel free to take naps during the day. While you are recovering, you will need plenty of sleep between therapy sessions to regain your energy levels.


How long after fitting the prosthesis can I sleep on my side?

Sleeping with a knee prosthesis on the side will not be possible during the first 5 days following the intervention. At first your leg will be very swollen and it is important to protect the wound and give it time to heal.

By the end of the first week, you should be able to rest and sleep on your side for short periods. By week 3, your staples will be out, the wound will be mostly healed and the swelling will be gone, so sleeping on your side will be easier and more comfortable on your knee.

You will find that sleeping on your side with your new knee down is easier than being up. 



6 Steps to Sleeping with a Post-Op Knee Prosthesis


No. 1 Prepare the bed

When deciding which bed you will sleep in, make sure it is close to a bathroom and that you sleep on the side closest to the bathroom.

Bedding should be clean right from the start, because your incision, even if covered for the first few days, is still healing. 

Make sure you have several pillows or travel pillows so you can sit up in bed. The extra pillows also allow you to support your leg if needed.

Use thin blankets as you will be sleeping on your back and any weight on your incision will be uncomfortable.


#2 Keep your gear close

For the first week, make sure your walker is placed away from the bed. Also, make sure you can reach a lamp from your sleeping position.


There are several things you need to keep near the bed.

  • One 64 ounce bottle with a built-in straw brought back from the hospital. 
  • Painkillers on the bedside table within easy reach. 
  • The hospital urine bottle on the bedside table 
  • If you wear glasses, have a pair of glasses on your bedside table.
  • A box of tissues and lip balm at hand.


#3 Be comfortable

Getting in and out of bed is important and the height of your bed can make a difference.

If you live in a cold climate and have surgery in the winter, it can be uncomfortable to keep heavy bedding on your lap while you sleep on your back.

Hot weather surgery also allows you to wear shorts. Your wound will not rub your pants and the therapy will be easier.


#4 Use pillows to sleep with a prosthetic knee

Use supportive pillows to support the affected leg. Opt for memory foam pillows.


#5 Consider sleeping in a recliner

A recliner makes getting up easier and improves mobility.


#6 Keep your mind busy during the day

Do your best to keep your mind active during the day. The therapy workouts help but you will also need to keep your mind busy.



Can't sleep with a knee prosthesis?

The first thing to know is not to be surprised if you run into any problems.  The first week, it's hard for everyone to sleep, even if you're exhausted.

In addition to the above tips for making it easier to sleep, consider taking melatonin (talk to your doctor about potential side effects or chemical reactions with other medications). 


Conclusion: How to sleep with a knee prosthesis?

Sleeping with a knee prosthesis will not always be easy. You will feel tired and sleepy at first when taking painkillers.

To start, plan to sleep on your back or in a seated position. As the days go by and as the swelling and pain decreases, you will be able to experiment with different sleeping positions.

The travel pillow and ergonomic pillows will provide much needed support and elevation.

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