One of the common problems we hear from our Pinehurst Surgical patients after their knee or hip replacement is sleep. They’ve been through the stress of the surgery, but now find a good night’s sleep to be as out of reach as running a 100-meter sprint.
This is an unfortunate common phenomenon after knee and hip replacement. It’s unfortunate not only because everyone hates tossing and turning throughout the night, but that your body needs the sleep time to do its magical nighttime repair work on the tissues around your new knee or hip.
Here’s some more on insomnia after replacement surgery.
You need the sleep
We all need a good night’s sleep; there’s plenty of research out there on the benefits. This is even more true when you’re recovering after knee or hip replacement with Dr. Moore. Here’s why you really need sleep at this time:
- Sleep helps you physically heal — When we sleep our body can focus on healing, as it doesn’t have anything else to do. It’s an opportunity for our systems to decrease inflammation, clear bruising, decrease swelling, and rebuild affected tissues. When we’re sleeping, our brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth.
- Sleep helps reduce stress and anxiety — Recovery from replacement surgery isn’t a walk in the park. We can feel stressed and anxious about our long-term results. Sleep helps us combat mental fatigue, reduces blood pressure, and helps to mental recharge which is important for setbacks that can occur during recovery.
- Sleep gives you the energy for rehabilitation — You need energy to work through the physical therapy ahead of you. You want to be able to push as much as necessary to aid your recovery, and you need restful sleep to do so.
- Sleep boosts overall health — Sleeping 7-8 hours a night is linked to better overall health in all sorts of areas, everything from lower obesity rates to lower blood sugar levels.
Three reasons you’re not sleeping
There are different reasons you may not be sleeping during your initial recovery from knee replacement. These are the three most common:
- Pain and discomfort — The pain will last for several weeks. After you hit the 2–3-week mark in recovery, your narcotic pain medication is cut back or eliminated. And you’ve increased your activity level to meet the demands of your rehabilitation. This can make pain spike during bedtime.
- Narcotic pain medication — Pain killers combat pain, of course, but the medication itself can also cause insomnia. Some prescribed pain meds affect your natural REM cycle and disrupt sleep patterns.
- Depression and anxiety — It’s not uncommon for someone who’s had joint replacement to have some feelings of depression. You can fret about your ongoing recovery time. You can be anxious about your future ability to return to various activities. You can feel isolated because you can’t participate in some of the things you formerly did while you’re recovering.
So, now you know that sleep problems are a common side effect after having knee or hip replacement. The good news? At about the six-week mark you should be experiencing much less pain, be off pain medications, and likely able to sleep in more comfortable positions. That should get you back to your normal sleep patterns.
Do you have chronic hip or knee pain? Give Dr. Moore a call at Pinehurst Surgical, (910) 295-0224, to set up a consultation.