Leaving the comfort and attention you get in the hospital after arthroscopic surgery can create a bit of separation anxiety. What now? you ask as you stand up on your crutches for the first time.
Come nighttime, you’ll be wondering how you’re expected to get any shuteye.
Among the other causes of discomfort that accompany the post-op experience, getting some good rest after meniscus surgery can be a challenge. The pain itself is usually a factor, ranging from dull and tolerable to pulsing and intense. Finding the right position is difficult, too.
Yet solid rest is one of the most important parts of healing after a meniscus tear. Here are a few tips to make sure you continue getting your eight hours after surgery.
1. Keep your bandages clean and dry
Before you go to bed, check the dressing around the surgery site to make sure everything is copacetic. Keeping your dressing in tip-top shape—clean and free of moisture—is essential to avoiding infection, and before bed is a good time to make bandage check and re-dress (if necessary) part of the routine.
2. Sleep on your back with the leg slightly elevated
This is especially important during the first few days after meniscus surgery. Keeping the leg elevated (but not bent!) encourages healthy circulation, which helps keep pain and swelling in check. This position also helps you avoid bumping the incision site, which can lead to bleeding and infection.
3. Roll over to the “good leg” side
Sleeping on your back can be an adjustment in and of itself. If you do choose to sleep on your side, roll to the non-surgery side and put a pillow between your knees. Use this position only if you’re having no luck getting to sleep on your back, and remember not to bend the knee.
3. Try breathing exercises to help relax
When you’re having trouble sleeping after meniscus surgery, try taking deep breaths to the very bottom of your lungs. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat ten times at your own pace. Aside from helping you relax, deep breathing exercises encourage circulation and, in turn, reduce pain and inflammation.
Finally, remember that sleep is essential to your recovery. If you are sleeping a bit extra after surgery, good! That means your body needs it. After meniscus surgery, just having energy enough to care for yourself throughout the day will be challenging at first.
But your body also needs adequate rest to heal the surgery site and rebuild damaged tissues. And once your meniscus rehabilitation program begins, rest will become even more important. Be sure to make sleep quality very a priority.
The tips above are a good place to start.