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TKR DelawareKathy's Recovery Thread

Delawarekathy

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I am 5 weeks post surgery for TKR. I knew I'd experience some pain and expected a few weeks of recovery. However I was not prepared for the excruciating pain starting the moment anesthesia wore off on my surgery day. I spent 3 days in the hospital followed by 5 days in a rehab facility enduring extreme pain with only minimal relief taking opioids.

The pain is now tolerable but recovery is still slow. I completed in-home P.T. and started out patient P.T. last week. I spend my days performing leg exercises throughout the day and elevating and icing my leg sitting on the sofa. I can now walk around the house without a walker, but the furthest I'm able to walk outside the house with the walker is down the driveway and back again. Whenever I ask nurses, physical therapists or others WHY my is my recovery slower than other people, I get the same answer "Everyone heals at a different pace." Why did I have such extreme pain, and other people go through the same surgery with minimal pain?

I wanted to have both knees done together, but now can't imagine how awful that would have been. I have so much PTSD from this knee replacement, I may never get the other one done.
 

Jockette

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Hi, @Delawarekathy Welcome to Bonesmart!

I’m sorry you are having a tough time, many of us do. Many of us are not told before surgery how hard and long this recovery is. Complete recovery takes an average of a year, though you won’t feel like you do now, that whole year.
I spend my days performing leg exercises throughout the day
If any of these exercises are causing you additional pain, you can stop them. You do need mobility, so keep up the short walks and just gently bend your knee a little bit. Over time you will be able to do more. Right now, especially, your knee needs to heal.
. I have so much PTSD from this knee replacement, I may never get the other one done.
I totally understand this, I have some PTSD from this experience, too. :console2:


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.

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.
 

Pumpkln

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@Delawarekathy
You'll notice that I have moved your newest post and started your recovery thread. For several reasons, we prefer that you have your own recovery thread:
  • That way, we have all your information in one place. This makes it easier to go back and review your history before providing advice.
  • With your own recovery thread, you will see the posts and advice others have left for you.
  • Having only one thread will act as a diary of your progress that you can look back on.
So please post any updates, questions or concerns about your recovery here. If you prefer a different thread title, just post what you want and we'll get it changed for you.
If you need an urgent response to a question, just tag a member of staff.
How to tag another member; how to answer when someone tags you

Here are the instructions on finding your thread, How can I find my threads and posts? . Many members bookmark their thread, so they can find it when they log on.
 
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Delawarekathy

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I am now 6-1/2 wks post op. I have P.T. 2 x's wk and also do exercises throughout each day. After I do my exercises, I get almost 130 degrees bend in my surgery knee.

However, whenever I sit or lie down for more than 10 minutes, my knee stiffens again and will hardly bend at all. So, I repeat the heal slides and other exercises and once again I get the flexibility back, but it doesn't last.
 

Celle

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Kathy, your knee gets stiff for two reasons - first, the exercising stresses it a bit, so some of its swelling increases.
Second, when you're lying still or resting, your knee stops making the synovial fluid, which lubricates the inside of the joint. Once you get moving again, your knee makes more synovial fluid and that releases some of the stiffness. It's a bit like putting oil on a rusty hinge. Just walking would have the same effect as doing the exercises again.

There's one more thing, though - at this early stage of recovery, stiffness is another way in which you experience pain, so take that into account as well.

I'm afraid that knee stiffness is going to annoy you for several more months, because it does tend to linger. It will fade gradually, though.

By the way, you don't need to keep doing those exercises all day. Just once a day is plenty. Don't forget that walking is the best exercise of all for a new knee, and you do plenty of that during your activities of daily living.
 

Sara61

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Hi Kathy knee stiffness is part of our healing process, I'm now nearly 4 months post surgery on my left knee and the stiffness is with me constantly sometimes I feel that the knee joints needs a jolly good spray of WD40 lol.
I seem to spend my day moving my knee constantly trying to avoid it getting stiff but it's a bit of a catch 22 as the more exercise I do (mainly walking) the more discomfort I get - nights are the worst. I do find rubbing bio oil on it helps but most likely it's the massage I'm giving the knee.
Hang in there it will get better eventually xx
 
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Delawarekathy

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Thanks to both of you for your reassurance.

Another question:
I noticed that my surgery leg is now about 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) longer than my other leg. Is that something other people have encountered? Could swelling account for this?
 

Lindylee

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Hi, your knee sounds like my first one. The pain at times was excruciating and it stiffened very easily. I found it better to do 2 or 3 heel slides every hour rather than 10 in one go and that walking on it, even if I couldn't go far, was the best exercise for it. It's now a year old and apart from a slight issue with the IT band, that the surgeon tells me should resolve in the next 6 months, it's fine.

I was supposed to have my other knee done after 4 months, but couldn't face it. I've just had it done and it's a totally different experience, no excruciating pain this time. All the other aches and pains are there, but it's been such a relief not to have that breathtaking pain every time you try to stand up or bend or lift the leg.

Maybe it's because they've straightened your leg it appears longer? When you have a matching pair they'll level you up.
 

Celle

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I noticed that my surgery leg is now about 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) longer than my other leg. Is that something other people have encountered? Could swelling account for this?
No, not swelling.

If you leg was slightly bowed or knock-kneed (which often happens as arthritis progresses) it may well be straighter now, and will feel longer. Sometimes, the knee replacement also causes a change in the angle at which you hold your hip, as you walk with a new gait.
 

Sara61

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Unless you are limping badly the slight difference in the length shouldn't cause you any problems however if you do develope a limp then maybe a good idea to see your surgeon.
On my Xrays my left leg (new knee) is slightly longer than my other leg but it is not causing me to limp nor can I notice or feel it - I'm sure once my other knee is ready to be operated on they can then rectify it, my PT instructor says it could right itself with time once the joint parts fully settled in place and swelling /tightness goes away.
 
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Delawarekathy

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My doctor said that I was knock-kneed. He used the IASSIST computerized alignment tool in surgery for a more accurate alignment and to correct what he called "valgus deformity". He did not mention that correcting my knock knees could cause a leg length discrepancy.
Since there still is swelling, perhaps it will right itself with time as you suggested.
 

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