Bilateral TKR Bilateral knee surgery 3+weeks out

Recvknee

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Hello. I just had bilateral knee replacement 3 weeks ago (11/5/21) One knee has healed well, the other one is really painful - can not get the rom which is recommended at this point. The full leg hurts( not the knee portion) but especially behind knee and and corner for my knee. It’s good some days but others is is excruciating pain. I still need a walker to get around. Thoughts, is this normal? Stitches are out and leg is not red, just a bit swollen.

This is def one of the hardest things I have done in my life
 

Jockette

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Hi and Welcome!

It is very common for one knee/leg to lag behind the other, with bilaterals. One reason is, no two knees recover the same, even on the same person, even done in the same surgery. 3 weeks is very early days in this year long (on average) recovery.

Here is another reason they might heal differently, one of our members posted this:

I watched a bilateral knee replacement when I was a nursing student. The patient happened to be a neighbor. It was quite a comfort to him that I was there. I was not that physically close to the surgical area because that's a super-sterile area. They wear space suits so they're not even breathing near the wound. I was by the patient's head. They did the left knee first and then the right, which went easier because they'd figured out the correct components on the left which means there was more tourniquet time, more putting on and taking off of components, and generally tweaking of the artificial joint on the left. So it was no surprise that the patient's right knee recovered more easily and with less swelling. Who knows how much each of our knees get tweaked and manipulated during the surgery, resulting in more tissue trauma?

I will leave you our Recovery Guidelines. Each article is short but very informative. Following these guidelines will help you have a less painful recovery.

Just keep in mind all people are different, as are the approaches to this recovery and rehab. The key is, “Find what works for you.“ Your doctors, PTs and BoneSmart are available to help, but you are the final judge as to the recovery approach you choose.

Knee Recovery: The Guidelines
1. Don’t worry: Your body will heal all by itself. Relax, let it, don't try and hurry it, don’t worry about any symptoms now, they are almost certainly temporary
2. Control discomfort:
rest
ice
take your pain meds by prescription schedule (not when pain starts!)​

3. Do what you want to do BUT
a. If it hurts, don't do it and don't allow anyone - especially a physical therapist - to do it to you​
b. If your leg swells more or gets stiffer in the 24 hours after doing it, don't do it again.​


4. PT or exercise can be useful BUT take note of these

5. At week 4 and after you should follow this

6. Access to these pages on the website

The Recovery articles:
The importance of managing pain after a TKR and the pain chart
Swollen and stiff knee: what causes it?
Energy drain for TKRs
Elevation is the key
Ice to control pain and swelling
Heel slides and how to do them properly
Chart representation of TKR recovery
Healing: how long does it take?

Post op blues is a reality - be prepared for it
Sleep deprivation is pretty much inevitable - but what causes it?

There are also some cautionary articles here
Myth busting: no pain, no gain
Myth busting: the "window of opportunity" in TKR
Myth busting: on getting addicted to pain meds

We try to keep the forum a positive and safe place for our members to talk about their questions or concerns and to report successes with their joint replacement surgery.

While members may create as many threads as they like in the majority of BoneSmart’s forums, we ask that each member have only One Recovery Thread. This policy makes it easier to go back and review the member’s history before providing advice, so please post any updates or questions you have right here in this thread.
 
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Recvknee

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Thank you for this info!! It is a bit depressing as I don’t feel I am making good progress. Also I have steps in my house, and pt is doing theraphy to teach me to go up and down the steps. Any members add a stair lift temporarily?
 

patriciad

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You as a bi-lateral are my super hero. One knee at a time is difficult enough! I cannot imagine what it takes to heal from both at the same time.
I have no insight to offer on the difference between the right and left knees but just wanted to offer encouragement in your journey to recovery. There is excellent information in the guidelines to recovery and on the members feeds.
I have found so much help and support from members and I am sure you will too especially from your fellow Bi laterals. Stay strong it’s very early days as yet.
 

Taoquest

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@Recvknee - Welcome to Bonesmart- lots of support and knowledge here. I don’t know how I could have coped without this site. Please read the journeys of other Bilaterals in the list that Jockette gave you. For me, the first two-three weeks were the toughest. Take all meds as prescribed, and stay ahead of the pain. The two most important things was ELEVATION (Thank you Lounge Doctor) and ICE. Keeping the swelling down is the key. Can you live on one level temporarily to avoid the stairs?
It is very common for one Knee to heal differently than the other. My Right Knee was more damaged and was and is still lagging behind the Left Knee. As I am approaching my 6 month mark, both have settled down and are equal in their complaints. Ironically I no longer have any knee pain but my back is having spasms. No doubt adjusting to straight legs and different gait will take time.
 
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Bucky1111

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Hello. I just had bilateral knee replacement 3 weeks ago (11/5/21) One knee has healed well, the other one is really painful - can not get the rom which is recommended at this point. The full leg hurts( not the knee portion) but especially behind knee and and corner for my knee. It’s good some days but others is is excruciating pain. I still need a walker to get around. Thoughts, is this normal? Stitches are out and leg is not red, just a bit swollen.

This is def one of the hardest things I have done in my life
@Recvknee - Welcome to Bonesmart- lots of support and knowledge here. I don’t know how I could have coped without this site. Please read the journeys of other Bilaterals in the list that Jockette gave you. For me, the first two-three weeks were the toughest. Take all meds as prescribed, and stay ahead of the pain. The two most important things was ELEVATION (Thank you Lounge Doctor) and ICE. Keeping the swelling down is the key. Can you live on one level temporarily to avoid the stairs?
It is very common for one Knee to heal differently than the other. My Right Knee was more damaged and was and is still lagging behind the Left Knee. As I am approaching my 6 month mark, both have settled down and are equal in their complaints. Ironically I no longer have any knee pain but my back is having spasms. No doubt adjusting to straight legs and different gait will take time.
I am soo happy I have found this forum. Congratulations on your success! Right now I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. This bilateral tkr is taking my spirit away
 
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Recvknee

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I am on hydrocodine 5mg/325 2 pills every four hours. This is my 4th week and still in pain behind my knee. It is it safe to be on pain meds for several weeks post surgery at this level? I can’t see myself without them as my pain is unberable. I have a follow up with surgeon in a week so I will ensure everything is ok.
 

johnnynikon

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My opinion is yes it’s safe. I would say it’s more important to properly wean off them when the time comes to make it easier. I went cold turkey after my left knee was healed enough and I suffered for a few days because of it. I’m now 2 weeks post op on my right knee (6 weeks between my left and right surgeries) and I can tell you my right has been far more painful than my left with severe behind the knee pain like your having. I think this is all normal and eventually it will go away.
 
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Recvknee

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Thank you. This forum is a godsend. I was regretting getting this done but reading the stories here makes me feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel(even though I do not see it)
 

Cocopug

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Hello. I just had bilateral knee replacement 3 weeks ago (11/5/21) One knee has healed well, the other one is really painful - can not get the rom which is recommended at this point. The full leg hurts( not the knee portion) but especially behind knee and and corner for my knee. It’s good some days but others is is excruciating pain. I still need a walker to get around. Thoughts, is this normal? Stitches are out and leg is not red, just a bit swollen.

This is def one of the hardest things I have done in my life
You have my utmost respect. The very thought of both knees done at the same time makes me want to run for the hills (if I could run). All the best to you for your recovery.
 

Ghostpipe

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Hi Recvknee. I had bilateral, understand what you are suffering. I remember the first time I went up the stairs at home, and then stood at the top in sheer terror at going back down.
I had (note, had) one knee much worse than the other. It’s annoying, because I was always held back by it. It wasn’t until seven months that I stopped going downstairs leading with the bad one. Now, at nearly nine months, it has finally caught up with the other, and the quad tendon has just about healed enough to do a straight leg lift without wincing. Got two legs again!
This recovery really does take a year, but I found that things start to speed up from five months, and at six my strength really started to flood back.
Just be patient, that’s the tricky part.
 
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Recvknee

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It seems as though the pain is around the nerve near the knee. I am trying to do flexion excersices and this pain gets worse. I did not have this pain before surgery. It is horrid pain.
 

Jockette

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You didn’t have this pain before surgery because you didn’t have the upset traumatized post surgery tissues that you have now.

If those exercises hurt, don’t do them. Just gently move your knee into a bend, to give it mobility, and not to the point of pain.
 
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Recvknee

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Thanks for the comment. It is just depressing when I am seeing people recover and walking on a cane in 3 weeks and I can barely bend my one knee. One has healed great, it’s the other one. Surgeons team thinks it’s nerve irritation and gave me meds to take but are recommend continuing the flex excercises. I hope this all gets better soon.
 
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Recvknee

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Wanted to give an update. Did lots of activity last three days(walked 20+minutes, flex excersices . Pain was manageable Today I didn’t do much (didn’t do flex excersices) and excruciating pain started in evening behind the knee and outside of knee. I feel this is a roller coaster. Did I over due my activity that today it is in pain? Will this ever get better? This is day 29.
 

Taoquest

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[QUOTE="Celle, post: 1490709, member:
You're still only a month out from very major surgery. Complete recovery takes a full year.
You still need to be careful about how much activity and exercise you do.

It's still normal to have aches and pains in your knees and everywhere else, as your body adjusts to a new way of walking.
Take several days of decreased activity and increased resting, icing and elevation, and see if that helps with the outer knee pain.
[/QUOTE]
I had the same thing happen to me at one month out. My acute pain lasted 3 days, but rest, ice, and elevation cured it eventually. Celle‘s advice and reassurance was spot on. Yes it is Hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I am now almost 6 months out from Bilateral, and it will get better.
 

FCBayern

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I feel this is a roller coaster. Did I over due my activity that today it is in pain? Will this ever get better? This is day 29.
This recovery is a roller coaster ride @Recvknee, and yes you did too much activity and joined the ODIC (Over Did It Club), very easy to do early in recovery. It will definitely get better but you aren't even a full month into a 12-18 month recovery. In my case I saw quite a bit of improvement during my second year of recovery. Time to give the knee a rest and exercise your patience muscle.
 
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Recvknee

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Thank you all for the encouragement!!! My therapist really thinks it’s nerve pain (coming from scaitica) and it will heal as time progresses. Pain is outside of knee and rear calf pain mainly. I’m taking it easy and am icing and just elevated my knees. Already feel better!
 
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Recvknee

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Week 5 progress: one knee seems to be doing really well. The other knee the pain has gone down and I cut down my pain meds. However still so much stiffness. I can’t get past 80 degrees flex. Getting a bit worried. Trying hard to do so, but it just really stiff. I’m hoping it will improve in the next week or so
 

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