Skip to content

Heat Or Ice After TKR?

Is Heat Or Ice Better After A Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

This article goes over why you should or shouldn’t use heat or ice after total knee replacement so that you can get the best results from your surgery to help you get active, stay mobile, and age stronger.

If you would prefer to watch a video explaining the best uses for heat and ice on your joints you can watch it here:

What’s The Difference?

We all know that heat or ice can help you with decreasing pain and injuries. Sometimes it’s hard to decide which one is best for you. In order to answer this question, we need to first understand what heat or ice does to your body.

Heat: Increase Blood Flow

Heat is used as a way to open up the arteries and veins. It is used to increase blood circulation to an area, so we typically recommend using heat if your knees feel sore, stiff, or have a dull aching sensation.

After knee replacement surgery, when you increase blood flow to the knee, it becomes less stiff and achy so that you can move better.

Ice: Decrease Blood Flow

Ice on the other hand, has a reverse effect of heat. It is used to decrease blood flow to an area. So the reason you want to use ice on your knee after knee replacement surgery is for excessive swelling, inflammation, or pain.

So now that you know the difference between heat and ice on the body, let’s talk about which one is best for you.

Best Uses

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, everybody comes out of knee replacement surgery differently.

Some people have a lot of pain, inflammation, and swelling. In those cases we recommend ice to calm the knee down and decrease the pain. If you’re currently doing rehab exercises with your physical therapist, this can also increase soreness in that surgical knee and build up lactic acid. For those cases, we also recommend ice to calm the pain down.

For those of you who don’t have excessive swelling around the knee but feel stiff and achy after sitting for a prolonged period of time we recommend you use heat to relax the muscle and get more blood flow to the area.

No matter if you choose to use heat or ice after knee surgery it is recommended that you use it for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Use either heat or ice to help you move better because after knee replacement surgery, the more you move, the stronger your knee becomes and the faster you’ll be able to get back to doing all the things that you love to do.

Get Help With Your Recovery Before And After The Surgery

At Next Level Physical Therapy we offer both prehab and rehab services so that you can go through total knee replacement surgery with less likelihood of complications, a faster recovery time, and more mobility and less pain over the course of the rehabilitation process.

If you have any questions, please call 281-721-4023 and our team will give you the information you need to get clarity on your specific needs and situation so that you can make the best decision for your health going forward.


Dr. Jack Wong

Next Level Physical Therapy

"We Help People Age 40+ Stay Active, Healthy & Mobile Without Relying On Pain Meds, Injections Or Surgery"