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TKR Neesie's Recovery Thread

Neesie

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My total knee replacement was done on May 13, 2019. Today is 9 weeks and I'm deeply discouraged. I'm still in pain although certainly not nearly as much as the first few weeks. I've spoken to so many people who seem to have sailed through it that it makes me feel like such an outlier. I go to PT 2x per week (down from 3x), do my exercise at home daily and walk some everyday. In spite of that, I still have a variety of pain from dull ache to completely debilitating spasms. Many times the pain comes without any warning which is terrifying to me. Last Sunday I had the first of the recent spasms in a dressing room at a store. I had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. That lasted about 15 minutes. I was hoping to eliminate the pain meds by now but it doesn't seem possible. I stopped the oxicodone and now take only the Tramadol and Advil - morning, afternoon, before bed.

The only bright spot is the 15 lbs. I lost but I know that's just temporary; and at 4'11 that's a lot of weight in a short time which has left me weak and with very little energy. I just have no appetite and if I try to eat more than a little bit I get nauseous. I am taking Boost and feeling like a pathetic little old lady (I'm 69 years old).

I have read some of the articles and threads posted here and thank you all. This is the first place I've found that has sane, common sense, practical advice. I am still going through the wealth of info and hoping to find the encouragement I need to change my negative attitude.
 

Benay

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Hello
It gets better, it really does but definitely with plenty of ups and downs. Glad you've found this forum, for me it's been invaluable.
 

Tmgrl3

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I’M 76...had double knee March 21. I was on tramadol from get go but stopped it on April 21. 50s 2 to 3 x daily. I did home pt, and then out PT 2x week. I had 10 weeks of insomnia and finally figured out about 11 weeks in it was pain at night that was keeping me from sleeping. So even though I had been taking nothing but Tylenol during day, I needed to go back on tramadol at night for about six weeks. My pain during the day did come on like yours. I believe it was related to my very increased activity by 6 to 8 weeks out. I have no home PT going on at home. Daily living activities are enough and my PT and surgeon said these sudden onset and weird pains can come and go for up to a year. I am sixteen weeks out now. At night I am tired but no more tramadol and sleeping with pillow between my legs . With bilateral I had no “good side “ to sleep on.

I put on 32 pounds of edema from groin down both legs...lost all of that plus another 10 pounds but now at 5’11” at 146 pounds my weight is idea. I was severely depressed the first 12 weeks, had no appetite, would eat or start to eat and only be able to eat a part of it. I did have 4 blood transfusions too, so the iron pills didn’t help the stomach. But..day by day, mostly noticed it, week by week, I got better and better, the depression lifted bits and pieces and now mostly gone.Appetite back. Started driving at 8 weeks. My daily living activities keep my on my feet most of the day. I am diligent about icing. I was told 3 to 5 times a day and always right before bed. That makes a huge difference in pain and stiffness levels.

Hang in there. You will get better and notice if your pain comes on when maybe you did too much. Some people have no formal PT. I am glad I have it but past that first three weeks, I stopped doing any more PT at home as per my OS and PT. I walk well without a cane but my balance needs a little work going down stairs that have not railing. I feel as though I have a new lease on life with two working knees!! You will get there. We are not kids any more. Oh, I do use my elliptical at home. It needs a service but then I will be doing it every other day at least till I get back to 45 minutes. Right now at 15 minutes .
 

Jockette

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Hi and Welcome!

9 weeks is still early days in this year long, on average, recovery.

Pain is fairly par for the course in this recovery, and sometimes too much activity can ramp up that pain. Take a look at your activities and see what you can cut back on, for starters.

I am going to tag @Josephine,
our forum administrator and nurse director, to come and advise you.

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
elevate
ice
take your pain meds by prescription schedule (not when pain starts!)
don't overwork.
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.
 

Celle

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Hello @Neesie - and :welome:

It sounds as if your recovery is going well.

I expect you anticipated you'd be almost recovered by now but, unfortunately, recovery from a knee replacement does take a long time - as long as a full year for complete recovery of all your tissues. You'll be feeling much better long before then, though.

In spite of that, I still have a variety of pain from dull ache to completely debilitating spasms. Many times the pain comes without any warning which is terrifying to me. Last Sunday I had the first of the recent spasms in a dressing room at a store. I had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. That lasted about 15 minutes.
It sounds as if you're getting what we call zingers. They're like electric shocks tare sent out by your cut nerve endings as they try to reconnect, or to form a new pathway. Distressing as they are, they will pass eventually.

It may be that, in your expectation of being further recovered by now, you're overdoing things a bit. Do check your activity against what we recommend in this article: Activity progression for TKRs

You could probably cut back your PT sessions to one per week now, too.
 

Indygo

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My surgery was two days after yours, and I know how you feel. I get frustrated, thinking I should be farther along than I am, so I think these are normal feelings for nine weeks! I’m still bad at stairs, in part because the swelling comes on with too much activity. One day at a time!
 

KarriB

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It was over 5 months before I went shopping for clothing and didn’t step inside a grocery store until 12-13 weeks post op. My OS assured me it would be 12 weeks before I began to feel like myself and a year for a full recovery. He was absolutely right!

You still have a way to go so give yourself a break and be sure you’re elevating your knee as much as possible. I went back to work part time (mornings only) at 12 weeks and spent every afternoon elevating and icing my knee. I also experienced those spasms or zingers while I was at work. They’re surprising, but they’ll eventually stop.
 

winemama

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I’m at 10 weeks and I know your pain, sounds to me, that you might be doing to much, PT x2 is a lot. I went with the BS way, and cut way back on exercises, spent my energy on icing and elevating
This TKR is horror show, just breath, and know this to will pass. You came to the right place
 

knee#2

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Hi @Neesie ! I’m almost at 11 weeks and still get those zingers as well! Those nerve endings decide to reunite and party whenever they feel like it! It happened only this am at home and I didn’t hold back just yelped causing hubby to jump asking what was wrong , I think I overdid yesterday and today. Decided to walk around our circle several times thinking fresh air and exercise would help me sleep. I believe it did but helped our oldest grandson for while downstairs with boxes etc and now my knee is complaining, I truly understand your discouragement.. just when I thought I was cruising freely I had reality jolt today. Another month and I know it will be better. One nice thing my daughter found for me is one of our local grocery store is offering pick up service.. she bought subscription for us and a personal shopper picks out your online order, you just drive over to let them know you’ve arrived and someone brings to your vehicle! Best thing ever for us! I’m following your recovery also. Best to you! Zann. :console2:
 
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Neesie

Neesie

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Thank you, thank you everyone. There's nothing like confirmation that you're not a wimp. So many of the folks I've spoken to implied that I should just suck it up or that the pain wasn't really that bad.

I went to PT yesterday and was told that that was my last session. It's OK but I did expect a little more notice than same day. When I asked how long I should continue doing the exercises on my own, I didn't get a really clear answer. So I'm thinking I do them until I feel 'normal' again - that could be as long as 1 year, right? For those of you who are also done with formal PT, how often do you do your exercises and for how long each time?

Just curious - does anyone feel itchy around their knee, including the side that's still numb? It's the oddest feeling to me. Of course, it's nothing compared to the zingers.
 

Benay

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Mine told me to only do leg raises (lying down) with my yoga strap and calf stretches on the stair, 2 mins each exercise. I love the stretches so it's no effort at all to do either. If I miss them here and there I don't feel guilty.
 
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Neesie

Neesie

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Benay - does it hurt you when you use the yoga strap? I remember reading in one of the threads on this site that they don't recommend using a strap.
 

mainegirl1

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My knee still has numbness on the outside
I got used to it. Its been that way for 2.5 years
I have to remember to notice
 

Benay

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@Neesie I know, but this one has zero pain or stress on my knee. It's almost like using the leg raiser when you're first out of surgery to lift the leg onto the bed. It's gentle and the stretch from the hip feels great.
 
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sistersinhim

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Many of us never took formal PT or did exercises. I am one of them. I had 11 knee surgeries, 2 of them kneecap removals and 1 tkr. Even after those I never took PT. But, I didn't just sit around and do nothing. I took care of myself, my house and yard as my knee allowed me to do. As I healed, I did more. But, my knee was always in control. This was enough therapy for me and would be for any tkr patient. All the awful pain of PT is so unnecessary.

All you have to do is use it in your daily living. Just use it and it will come back like new. You have to be patient, though, it doesn't happen quickly. ADL,(activities of daily living), going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth and bathing, fixing a light meal, getting something to drink and or a snack, those kinds of things will be all the exercise your knee needs. If you just use it daily in your living, you can have a less painful recovery. We know what works, we've been there:yes:.
 
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Neesie

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It's so encouraging to learn that I don't have to be in pain to recover. I always hated the sign in PT that said "No pain, no gain'. I never believed in that. Thank you once again for your generosity in sharing your experience.
 

KarriB

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I used an aide (my leg raiser) when I first started leg raises because I couldn’t lift my TKR leg at all. After 4 months of PT I found the best exercise for me was walking (around the house at first). It built the muscles I wanted and needed for walking better than any other exercise in PT. You really don’t need exercises for ROM.
 

Jockette

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I stopped doing “the exercises” at 4 weeks post op after learning of Bonesmart’s gentle approach to recovery.

I’m 2+ years post op and still seeing improvement with my ROM. :happydance:
 
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Neesie

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I forgot to ask about the swelling in my ankle. It’s on the right side and very painful. I’ve been icing it along with the front and back of my knee. Is it just another result of the surgery or could I be doing something that’s causing it? I’ve limited my exercises to the few that feel good: toe/heel raises, leg raises, heel slides.

I read the posts about depression and they’re reassuring. I think a lot of mine is from the isolation and the pain. Can some of you who have overcome it share your stories/strategies?
 

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