Kelly Starrett Post-Op: “It’s going to keep swelling. You better have a plan.”

Dr. Kelly Starrett went through Total Knee Replacement surgery back in November of 2020.  In addition to the previous videos he’s provided on establishing short term goals for post-op, and setting up your environment before surgery, in this video he emphasizes the plan you should have in place to deal with both the immediate and on-going swelling that occurs after surgery.

Usually your physician will give you recovery protocols and guidelines with some benchmarks like “at 3 weeks you should be doing this” and “at 2 months you should be doing that.” Kelly recommends that you have a specific supplemental plan for in between and after these benchmarks, since your physician can’t be available to guide you 24/7.  And one of the toughest things to stay ahead of after surgery is tissue congestion and swelling.  Kelly also looks beyond the standard post-op protocols that are prescribed… he highlights what he personally went through after the 3-5-7+ month markers.

Kelly recognizes that even though your tissues will never be exactly the same after surgery, we want to try and normalize the tissues as much as possible. Also keep in mind that it will take some time for the tissue to try to normalize – it won’t be immediate. 

The surgical process slices through lymphatics, associated vascular networks, capillaries, and veins…and now all of those components are different.  It’s your responsibility to progressively train and load the tissues in order to rehab them.  What will help is knowing what to expect when you train and load these tissues.

When loading tissues you’re activating your circulatory and lymphatic systems, bringing nourishment in and flushing waste out. However, after tissue trauma like surgery, your body will want to overload the area with nutrients and blood flow to aid in the healing process.  This can cause swelling because the tissues can’t handle the kind of excess fluid loads that we’re pushing through our system.  We want to flush the area with good blood flow and nutrients, but when you’re doing it at such a high rate, you have to compensate equally to be ready to flush out all that excess fluid from the area so that it doesn’t stay effused.  

The most important thing to remember is that it’s totally normal to have swelling post-surgery as the tissues heal… just make sure you have a plan to address it, like H-Wave, so that it doesn’t start to back up and slow you down in recovery.  Watch the full video here:

You may also like:

Surgery Series with Kelly Starrett – Part 3: There Are No Fast Healers

Post-Op Recovery Protocols by The Ready State with Kelly Starrett

Knee Pain Treatment at Home with Dr. Kelly Starrett