Five “P’s” of knee recovery


Former BoneSmart staff member
Dec 21, 2007
Northern Part of the Buckeye State
United States United States
Many people facing a TKR or a BTKR, or many who have just returned from the hospital from the TKR or BTKR may be wondering what it will take to successfully recovery and reclaim their lives. While some have uneventful and smooth recoveries, some, like me, had a frustratingly long recovery---and part of this was due to what we didn’t understand.

The saying is very true: “Being forewarned is forearmed.” The more one knows about a TKR recovery and the more one understands how a TKR recovery progresses will help one understand that these recoveries can take much, much longer than we actually realize. Part of this is due to the idea, perhaps, that a few of us have had arthroscopic surgery (or two or more!) and have literally been back on our feet the same day, and back at work within days. Trust me on this; the recovery for a TRK or a BTKR is quite the opposite---you will not be active for quite some time, and it maybe something that you haven’t gone through. You may be more dependent than you would like, you will be moving slower for longer, and you may not see the progress that you wish to see, and, when you do, it may be the case of “one step forward---two steps back.”

I had several arthroscopic surgeries, and I didn’t understand what awaited me after my BTKR. I even had several friends who had TKR’s, and even after speaking with them, I thought that I would prove them wrong. I believed that I could work hard and regain my independent lifestyle and be pain-free in a short amount of time. Boy, was I proven wrong! I am sure that many of you are going through this also, and for those who are awaiting your TKR’s, you are wondering if you are also going to go through this, and what will be needed...

The Five “P’s” of Recovery

Patience---This has been stressed over and over again, but many of us have had to learn this---recovery from a TKR or a BTKR can take lots of time---much longer than many of us would have expected and much longer than many of us (OK---all of us) would have liked. You have to be prepared to travel a very slow road. Six to eight weeks---which many of us feel is enough time---is only just for starters for most of us. A “normal” recovery time is not measure in weeks, but months---and may take upward to a year. You will be tempted to keep asking, “When will I be done with this?” Rest assured, you will reach your destination; it just will most likely take longer than you would like. Be patient; it is certainly and admittedly difficult, but with patience, you can take the little---or large---adversities that we have all gone through during a TKR or BTKR recovery. Remember that a recovery from a TKR or a BTKR is not a straight line---it goes up and then has some depressions, too. Patience will help you deal well with these.

Practicality ---Do not set “timeline goals”---“I will be (insert your favorite activity) by eight weeks". Yep, many of us are goal-oriented people, and we are used to setting goals in our lives and in our work. Many of us may be former athletes who believe that goals are necessary to achieve desired results. We have to understand that we are not in charge; our knee, or our knees, are in charge. We recover at their pace and at their will and whim. Please understand that when you set “timetable goals” for yourself, you may be setting yourself up for frustration. This also goes along with ROM issues, too. Do not be concerned with the numbers---if you obsess about your ROM, you may get frustrated and discouraged. Be practical---realize what one understands what was done to the knee during the procedure---the cutting, the sawing, the pounding and manhandling, the gluing and the stapling---you will realize that certain types of goal-setting at this time is actually counterproductive. Your one goal---the only one necessary---is to “keep on keepin’ on” and to persevere; when you realize that, the rest of the goals seem inconsequential, don’t they?

Positive Attitude---Do not allow yourself to become negative; this is rather easy to do, considering how long recovery can take. Many of us have gone through some rather depressing times; we have suffered through the pain meds, the lack of independence, the stiffness and the sleeplessness, etc. It certainly can be challenging, but a positive attitude---knowing that you will win the war and emerge victorious by reclaiming your active lifestyle---is of overwhelming significance. Never, ever, give up. Again, understanding that this recovery may be lengthy and the question of “when” may enter your mind----but by maintaining a positive attitude, you can move forward with the confidence that you will reclaim the life that arthritis stole from you. When one thinks about how long it took for arthritis to rob our bodies, we can become more conscious and objective about what we are going through---and more positive about what not only needs to be done, but our dedication in meeting the needs of the tasks ahead.

Purpose---remember what prompted you to have a TKR or a BTKR; you realized that your life was not what you wanted it to be, and you decided to make a change. You may be challenged throughout this by PT or by the exercises that you have to do. You may, at times, tend to forget your purpose throughout the recovery---and, by doing this, you may tend to focus too much on the “now.” By focusing merely on the “now” you may get discouraged and disappointed. You made the decision to have the TKR or the BTKR, the orthopedic surgeon did his part, now it is time for you to do yours. Do not push yourself; do not overwork yourself; just listen to your knee and do what you need to do. Do not focus or obsess on the little setbacks----these are bound to happen. Your purpose, then, is to simply go day-by-day and remember why you had the surgery done. There are no shortcuts here---and, while you may be challenged, you have to remember your purpose throughout this ordeal, and keep moving ahead.

Presence----Make yourself at home here on the forum. Ask your questions; rant, if you need to, reach out for the support that you need, or reach out and help those who may need your support. We can all help each other through this, and we can all help each other reach the destination. Remember, it feels much, much better when you can share your victories---however small they are---with others. Your presence here can certainly be of help to yourself, but, by asking your questions and sharing your concerns and victories, you are aiding and helping others who may have the same issues, too! After your recovery is “done and dusted”, as Jo would say---keep returning and share your successes---it is important for those going through the throes of recovery to see not only that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”, but also that there is indeed not only a life at the end of the TKR recovery, but a great life, at that.

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  • Jaycey
    ADMINISTRATOR Staff member since February 2011

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