What a Difference a Compression Stocking Can Make!

 On Wednesday, May 25th I had a complete knee replacement and I would like to share my experience with you. I had put off my surgery for over year which caused extensive damage to the joint, and resulted in severe pain and difficulty walking. By the time I made my decision to have the surgery I was using a cane because I was afraid my knee would give out and I would fall. Probably the only way I was able to go so long was because I wore my 20-30 mmHg support pantyhose every single day.

My surgeon was awesome! I discussed my belief that everyone who has any type of knee surgery should come out of surgery with 20-30 mmHg thigh high support stockings on their legs not TEDS. TEDS are for patients in bed (non-ambulatory). Once the patient is able to go to the bathroom, a TED stocking does not have enough compression to increase the circulation and and keep the leg from swelling. The less swelling a patient has, the shorter the recovery period and the less likely they will develop a blood clot or other complications. He agreed with me, but said most patients were not willing to purchase the stockings and bring them to the hospital for their surgical procedure. Well, you know what I did! I went into surgery with one 20-30 thigh high stocking on my good leg and the other stocking attached to my bed waiting for the completion of surgery for it to be put on my surgical leg. Once again I will say my surgeon is awesome! It took one hour to replace the knee joint! I was in recovery for 2 – 2 1/2 hrs. During my surgery, they gave me a femoral nerve block. I was told they last about 48 to 72 hrs. Control of pain following surgery is a major step to recovery. The earlier a patient can move and start physical therapy, the shorter the length of hospital stay and the lower the risk of complications such as thromboembolic disease (blood clots) and infections related to hositalization. When I awoke in my room I was experiencing some pain, but a Norco (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) took care of the pain. Soon I was up to go to the bathroom and start walking using my walker that I had brought with me. When I was in bed I was on my CPM machine (a continuous passive motion machine constantly moves the joint through a controlled range of motion which is increased over time). Using a CPM machine helps insure you regain the full range of motion in your knee. I was also soon introduced to my “take home physical therapy”. The medical staff gave me no time for rest–ha! ha!

Would you believe, on Friday afternoon – 48 hours after my surgery, I was on my way home. Of course I was still wearing my stockings. Once home I continued my CPM (6 hours a day), wearing my stockings (after 2 or 3 days I changed back to my trusty 20-30 pantyhose which I could put on myself) and my take home physical therapy!

Some where about two weeks post surgical the walker went by the wayside and I picked up my trusty cane (still wearing my support pantyhose). By week three I was walking around the house without my cane and only used it when I went out. I was a bit late starting my physical therapy with a therapist– I started that in week four. By week six post surgical I was walking normal. Oh, did I say On June 6th, 11 days post surgical, I was back at work most of the day!

I suppose there is a moral to this story:

  • Keep your pain under control
  • Use your CPM machine
  • Do all your physical therapy
  • Wear your 20-30 compression stocking from surgery all through recovery period

Even now I have moderate daily swelling, but it does not hurt and has gone away the next morning. That is to be expected. What a difference compression stockings have made!

If any of you have comments about how compression stockings have made you recovery from surgery easier please scroll to the bottom of the blog entry to leave a comment.

12 Responses

  1. What great comments and medical info on the affects of support hoses. I started wearing my 20-30 relief support thigh high hoses after having spider veins treated with lasers and have not taken them off since. I wear them at night and my mild leg tickles went away. I also have a meniscus on my left knee that is painful sometimes when walking and that does not occur anymore. I can’t say enough about them.

    Yes, I will wear them the rest of my life. I also picked up some of the sexy black thigh high ones too. I get them big enough so they reach almost to my groin. The thigh high ones stay up great and bathroom visits are a breeze.

    Nancy S

    • Hi Nancy,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. However, we usually do not recommend wearing 20-30 compression at night. Perhaps, if you are buying them larger than you actually wear, you are really getting a 15-20 compression which are ok to wear at night. Any way, we are so pleased you let us know how much they have helped in you life.

  2. I have been wearing 20/30 Jobst for many many years , i would not be able to enjoy life with out them ,i am 69 ,and i would tell anyone with a leg problem to wear them.

  3. Vanda!

    Continued good progress, Vanda. I had total knee replacement in 7/05. I had to spend 17 days in a nursing home rehab (misery-awful place). My incision would not heal, a fortune in bandages for 2 mos. Thus, the motion machine had to be stopped. At 3 mos I developed several DVT’s and was immediately sent to Emergency. I was on coumadin and Lovemax injectons for 7 mos. with weekly blood tests.

    I could not put weight on the “good” leg, and came to find out the opposite hip had collapsed. I then had a total integral hip replacement (4/06). My work fired me, and I lost my apartment in a complex fire (3/07). I’m resettled now, happily retired, and fairly mobile. I pace myself and am glad to have my own time.

    The compression hose does help with leg and foot swelling. I keep a supply I order from you folks. Sometimes they’re tough to put on because I have spinal stenosis, and even sitting and bending can be a challenge. I have the “donner,” but it’s very hard to use. I just take my time.

    By the way, I’ve had my DNA mapped as part of genetics course I am taking, and have found out I am positive for Factor V Leiden, a genetic marker for elevated risk of blood clots! No surprise there. I had 3 large clots in one leg after knee replacement and a vascular surgeon inserted a filter in my vena cava to give me a chance, should it happen again. My daughter was also tested, and she, too, carries the marker, and her OB/GYN immediately took her off oral contraceptives. Any hormone therapy elevates your risk of DVT. Factor V is common in white women of European heritage – of which I’m 100%.

    So, I am glad I had the joint replacements done when I did, at age 59. I would have certainly been in a wheelchair. Never did I think this would happen before I was 60. The Factor V makes me a very high risk patient – and my medical professionals all must be made aware.

    Overall, I am blessed. Thank you all for being there, too. I am very pleased with whatever I have purchased.

    Take care of that knee. Mine does slip (sublexes) now and then because I have lost muscle, make sure your feet are under you when getting in and out of the car, etc. You do have to be more aware.

    Best regards,
    Joan

    • Hi Joan,
      Thanks so much for reminding us that there are other surgical complications beyond our control. We have talked about Factor V Leiden and even other clotting disorders. Remember if a parent has a tendency to have varicose veins or blood clots, then thier children may have the same tendency and should be proactive at a young age.

      Vanda

  4. I didn’t know you had knee replacement surgery! It sounds like you did really well. How’s Rod?

  5. Vanda, I have bilateral knee replacements 7 and 1/2 years ago, I begged my Dr to allow me to wear my support hose. After 1 week I was back in my hose I did take 8 weeks off. I was driving after 3 weeks and back to work as a resp therapist after 8 weeks. I would not be walking today if it was not for my support hose. I do wear 30-40 lbs. sigvaris knee highs. I truly love them and will tell anyone who will listen. Judy

    • Hi Judy, thanks for sharing with us.
      One day, perhaps we will reach the ears of all our physicians. Many do know. 8 weeks is not bad to take off after a bilateral knee replacement. My job does not put me on my feet all day.
      Vanda

  6. That is wonderful news for you and thanks for sharing. I agree that these stockings work and anyone with thrombotic tendencies should wear these daily. When I was 29yr old and 35wks pregnant with my first child I was hospitalised with a large dvt in my left femoral vein. The clot damaged the valve in my groin and after I had my child I was told that I should wear a 20-30mg compression knee-high stocking every day for the rest of my life if I didn’t want to end up losing my leg. Every day? I was only 29yrs old, how could this happen to me??!! But it did. I am now 35 and still wear my stocking every day. The difference on the days I don’t wear it is astounding – my ankle ends up purple if I don’t and I sometimes develop pain in the top of my leg. I feel naked if I don’t wear my stocking. I can run and do all the things I want to do without having the fear that I will lose my leg in my later years. These stockings will be a part me for a very long time and would recommend to anyone with swollen or painful legs to try them – you won’t be sorry

    • Thanks for sharing with us. Ouu good friends out there should remember, if they had a parent with varicose veins or blood clots,they may also be at risk.

      Vanda

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