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TKR Shari's RTKR journey

SJW

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First off I just want to say how helpful this forum has been and I so wish I had found it sooner - just found it 2 weeks ago. I have been so anxious every day about every aspect of this and it has been great to see that I am not alone in my experiences.

I am a 59 year old woman with bone on bone knee pain for a number of years. I participated in all the prehab classes, did all the prehab exercises as instructed, made better food choices and stopped drinking alcohol 7 weeks before surgery - I was ready. (My friend who was a nurse said she had never seen anyone follow the prehab program as consistently as I had.).

I had a right total knee replacement on October 11/19. Surgery was at noon and in the evening I was hobbling to the washroom - with a walker assisted by a nurse. The following day again I was walking and after seeing PT and OT they said I could go home that day. I was a rockstar in the hospital - this didn't seem too bad. I did have numbness on my inside calf so I was kept till the next day so the doc could see it. The next day it was no longer numb and I was discharged.

Everyone kept saying how good I was doing and I felt pretty good - until the next day and the nerve blockers wore off. I then had the worst 10 days of my entire life - the pain was managed somewhat ok with hydromorphone (and the cryo cuff which I used consistently) but the debilitation, anxiety and depression (which I don't typically have) was overwhelming. I simply did not expect to feel like that - after all I did everything I was supposed to do prehab. It was shocking to me. My husband was there for me 110% and I don't think I could have managed without him. I didn't even want to communicate with my friends becuz I just couldn't handle anything - I was a mess. Every day was a nightmare.

I got the staples out in 14 days and was so anxious about that I thought I was going to have a heart attack on the way to the hospital. (It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Worrying about the unknown has been one of my greatest obstacles.)

I started PT 3 times a week 17 days postop. (I was told to do exercises twice daily when I was released from the hospital but they were so difficult I could barely manage. The worst part was my upper thigh - it felt shredded and so painful I couldn't even lift my leg. In retrospect I wonder if that hindered my recovery.). My flexion was 55 degrees at the first session. I was shocked at how little I could do. After one session I cried all the way home and told my husband I couldn't do this anymore. I continued with physio 3 times a week for the next 4 weeks - some days were fine and others hard. I struggled so much.

Sleep was almost non existent. I saw my surgeon at week 7 and he said my recovery is average (I am at 101 degrees flexion). I don't need a MUA which was something else I was anxious about. He asked if I was thinking that I wished I hadn't done the surgery and I said absolutely - he said at this stage that is quite normal. I got an extended sick note from the surgeon till January 10 which will give me 3 months off. (I am a school secretary and have sick benefits so at least that is not a worry especially if I feel I need more time off ).

I am currently in week 8 and although I certainly feel better than I did at the beginning this whole process is still so hard. I am going to PT twice a week now (physio said when I get to 110 degree flexion I should stop going) and continue to do light exercises at home. I elevate and ice as much as possible. Sleep is still not my friend. It seems like there is always some new pain. Now I have a band around my knee and almost a secondary one above my knee that is so tight most times I can barely stand it and because of that tightness I limp so bad. I take T3's for the pain and they help somewhat. Also when I bend my leg it feels like my scar will split apart. I am assuming this is swelling. Is that normal? When does THAT go away?

In general I suppose my recovery is coming along (I don't cry EVERY day anymore) but most days I still think "this can't be my life - I didn't expect this - this is so hard". (I need to get my left knee done as well but even thinking about going through this again gives me PTSD.)

Anyway - that's my experience. Thanks for listening - any advice would be greatly appreciated. (Sorry for the length.)
 

Pumpkln

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@SJW
:welome: to BoneSmart glad you joined us.
I have added your surgery date to your signature and you have been added to the October Fiesties, where you will find a list of members with a similar surgery date.

The tight band feeling is normal, "Tight band" feeling across the front of my knee. The tight band feeling partially is from doing too much too soon, slow down and give you knee a chance to heal.

I suspect the aggressive PT you have received may have set back your recovery. You should experience no more than discomfort during PT. Should you feel you are being pushed it is OK to say No, Saying no to therapy - am I allowed to?

Here is your copy of the Knee Recovery Guidelines, the articles are short and will not take long to read.

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 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 a 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 history before providing advice.
 
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Jockette

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Hi and Welcome!

This surgery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done! And I had a partial, promoted to be easier than a total, and yet I’ve seen members with totals do way better than me. It just proves how different we all are.

Hang out here with us.
Bonesmart has a wealth of advice, information and support.
We will offer helpful suggestions, :idea:

Cheer your accomplishments :happydance:

And send hugs when you are feeling down. :console2:

Best wishes!
 
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Helizabug

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Glad you landed here, too! I’ve gotten so much help, and some strong fellowship, which is key right now when most people don’t know what you’re going through.

I’m behind you in my healing, only a week and a day out of my surgery, so I can be a bit naive about what others are experiencing, but this feels a lot like my ACL reconstruction in the 1980s, which has been really helpful to me. That was a long, tearful haul. This has been more painful, but more manageable because of what I’ve learned from that.

A couple of powerful lessons that I’ve learned, maybe they can help:

No matter how bad I’ve felt, this time, the strength and persistence of my own ‘prehab’ probably helped me feel a little better and stronger, so, like me, you should give yourself lots of hugs for doing that work ahead of time.

The first inch is the hardest, not a metaphor. Lifting my leg is easier, once I get that first inch, even with help. I guess my hip and core start to fire or something. Maybe it’s worth either powering through the first inch, when you feel like Wonder Woman, or giving yourself a break when you don’t feel like a superhero because that first step, those first inches of my current range seem so much harder than the rest. UP TO A POINT, OF COURSE then the reverse is true and we’re overdoing it.

And by the way, you are a superhero for tackling and taming this beast. Good luck.
 
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SJW

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i had physio on Monday and the band around my knee was worse that day. I took the advice and have just been taking it easy (elevation, ice and no exercise) but here it is Friday and still feels the same. I have been unable to reach my surgeon and can't get into my GP for a month. I have tried a few medications but nothing seems to be working. I am st a loss as what to do now cuz the pain is awful. Any other suggestions?
 

Jockette

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You are still very early in recovery and and your knee will complain painfully with any activity it doesn’t like.

I was discharged from PT at 8 weeks. Maybe you should consider ending PT since it makes your knee feel worse.

Here is what one of our members recently posted:
At my six week appointment this is what my OS wrote in my visit summary: "She reads an online website called Bone Smart which states to not push through pain following knee replacement. If she were to follow this direction, she will have to learn to live with a knee that only reaches to 85 degrees of flexion. I believe this website is very misleading."
It has now been 20 weeks and all I do is ADL and this is what my ROM has done:
3.5 wks: 75
6 wks: 85
7 wks: 90
10.5 wks: 95
14 wks: 100
17 wks: 105
20 weeks (where I am today): 110
I am so thrilled it keeps improving and improving and I know now that I will get to my goal of 120 (or even better, dare I say!) :egypdance:
So, if a OS or PT bullies you into thinking your ROM will not improve over time they are wrong. By the way, I haven't been back to see the OS since that horrible appointment at 6 weeks, but I sure am going back when I reach 120 just to say, "Ha! You were wrong, BoneSmart was right!" :yes:
By the way, ADL means Activities of Daily Living.

And, my ROM not only continued to improve after my one year anniversary, it continued after my second year anniversary!
 

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