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[TKR] TortiTabby's recovery

TortiTabby

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Hello all. Reading through the forum has really helped me these past couple weeks. I received a total knee replacement on my right knee on April 26th and am now in week three of recovery. I work full-time and have a job where I am mostly seated at a computer. Today is my first full day of work, but at home instead of in the office. I’m expected to be back in the office this coming Thursday. My problem is that a former co-worker had a recent total knee replacement and was superman in recovery. He told everyone that he hardly took any meds, was walking unassisted the next day, and that he was out shoving snow within a few weeks. So, because of his wonderful recovery, my work is expecting my recovery to be just as fast and successful. The difference is that he is a weight lifter and in excellent shape… I am not (60lbs overweight). I can walk with a cane and occasionally without any assistance but I am disappointed that I can’t achieve 90% flexion in my leg and that the pain is still so bad. I try to move my knee throughout the day but forcing the knee to 90 degrees just makes it hurt all the next day. Will range of motion come back on its own if all I do is light but frequent stretching? How long can I expect to get pain meds from the doctor (is there a limit due to the well-publicized opioid problem)? At this point it is all so frustrating. Thanks for listening.
 

Roy Gardiner

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If you could get more time off work, that would be ideal. Three-four weeks is about 1/3rd of the ideal time to recover.

There is an old, rude joke about their being two kinds of men, a 'Certain Kind' and 'Liars'. Your co-worker may be the latter kind. In any case, he (as you point out) is not the example, your doctor should be able to provide information on the ideal recovery time.
Will range of motion come back on its own if all I do is light but frequent stretching?
It will come back on it's own anyway, and light, frequent stretching is the ideal recovery procedure. It won't make it significantly faster, though.
 

Roy Gardiner

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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. Here is a week-by-week guide for Activity progression for TKRs
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.
 

Jockette

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Welcome to Bonesmart!

I’m sorry you have to follow that amazing recovery that your coworker had, those recoveries are few and far between.

Hopefully your surgeon will suppprt you and give you the time off that you need to recover. Doing too much before your particular knee is ready for will not help your recovery.

I love your user name, we had a torti cat for almost 19 years. She had a lot of attitude but we loved her and over the years she mellowed and was a good buddy.
 

Celle

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My problem is that a former co-worker had a recent total knee replacement and was superman in recovery. He told everyone that he hardly took any meds, was walking unassisted the next day, and that he was out shoving snow within a few weeks. So, because of his wonderful recovery, my work is expecting my recovery to be just as fast and successful.
Your co-worker had an exceptional recovery - or may he remembers it that way, but it wasn't really.

Ask your surgeon for certification that you will need much longer to recover than your co-worker did. THe usual time we recommend people take off work is about 12 weeks.

My friend, Will, boasts that he went back to work 2 weeks after a TKR. He genuinely believes now that he had no problems and no complications - he isn't trying deliberately to deceive anyone.
The truth of it is this:
  • Although he did go back to work so early, he did it in a wheelchair.
  • His wife helped him get up, washed and dressed, and she drove him to and from work.
  • He stopped taking pain medications, saying they were "for Sissies".
  • Consequently, he was in pain and grumpy all day.
  • His colleagues wished he had stayed at home.
  • He rested in bed all the time, except when at work.
  • His wife waited on him, hand and foot.
  • By the time he was really recovered, his wife was a worn-out wreck.
He doesn't tell the full story, because he doesn't remember it.
He thinks he had a fast, uncomplicated recovery, and that's what he tells people.
 

CaliCat

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Hi, TortiTabby! You and I are surgery buddies - my right TKR was the same day as yours! I'm sorry to hear you're feeling pushed to go back to work so soon. I'm supposed to be off for a full month, and then another month of partial work if all goes well. All I'm doing right now is checking email once a day or so, and even that is a bit of a stretch due to the pain meds! Just because your co-worker had such a fast recovery doesn't mean you won't need more time. Even two knees on the same person can have different recovery experiences.

Good luck!
 
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TortiTabby

TortiTabby

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Hi CaliCat! Funny - almost same day surgery and screen names so similar! Thank you all for the advice and here's to a speedy but restful recovery for us all. :beer:
 

Celle

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here's to a speedy but restful recovery for us all
Restful - yes. But speedy - no, I'm afraid that almost never happens.
For most of us, recovery is a year long, and bucket loads of patience will be required. It's like a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs, or two steps forward and one step back.

Recovery chart drawn.jpg
 
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TortiTabby

TortiTabby

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Well, I'm 3 weeks post-op and went back to work yesterday for the first time. Luckily I have a job where I am seated almost all the time and have my own private office. I brought a big exercise ball to work to rest my leg on and a cooler with ice packs. I get up every hour and move around doing light exercises and stretches and massage my knee. Still on pain meds and using a cane. So far, I feel like going back to work has helped me to move a bit more than I did at home and I noticed my flexion has ever so slightly improved, but still not 90. I know there are ups and downs to recovery but it feels good to be in an "up" state right now. The hardest part is staying awake at work due to the meds. :sleep:
 

Cynof4

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@TortiTabby,
Wow! I can't imagine going back to work at 3 weeks even with those accommodations. Take care of yourself

~Cynthia
 

Irish471

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@TortiTabby , love your screen name! I have a torti point kitty and she's such a playful kitty :catbutterfly:

I started back to work last week (7 weeks post op) and did about 4 hours/day. This week, I tried doing 5-6 hours/day and today I stayed home. It's been a struggle to make it through the day sometimes, and it's not even been a full day. I have a desk job, too. That's frustrating that your co-worker seems to be Superman with his knee. I don't buy it for a second, though. I love @Celle 's description of her friend, Will. That I believe! :heehee:

Be kind to yourself when you get home from work each day. When I don't have physical therapy, I am resting in the evening. I feel better in the morning because the swelling has gone down, but after a few hours into the new day, I am wishing I could lie down to take a nap. I am hoping this all gets better in the next month or two.
 

AmeliaP

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One of my male colleagues tells a similar story. After listening to him go on and on about how it wasn’t that bad and he was up and doing amazing things in no time (and after 2 TKRs only a few months apart), I began to get a bit skeptical. I called his wife and asked for the real scoop. She made it clear that while her husband may remember it that way, it certainly wasn’t reality as she experienced it. Because she wasn’t on drugs for weeks, I tend to believe her account. Perhaps you should be skeptical too...
 
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TortiTabby

TortiTabby

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Ok, probably a bit too optimistic to have gone into work for two straight eight hour days at three weeks post. By the end of Friday my knee was swollen and aching. Today, Saturday, it really hurts and is stiff. I worked it out to only go into work every other day and work from home otherwise from now on.
On another note, does anyone notice that rainy weather makes the joint stiffer or achy than usual?
 

Jockette

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I’m glad you were able to modify your work times.

And yes, some of us are bothered by weather, I sure am, and I never was before surgery. :blackcloud:
 

Jodingers

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I knew of a guy who boasted of dancing swing at 3 weeks post tkr , even posted videos. Reality is he stood still whilst people danced around him! He was still telling people this despite still limping with a cane 3 months on !! Selective memories!
I go back to work in 2 weeks at 10 weeks post op, I'm a community nurse so unable to do much desk work and I am dreading it. Be kind to yourself.
 
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TortiTabby

TortiTabby

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I am now 3 and a half weeks post op. My extension is fine but flexion is still only about 75 or so. I do light exercises everyday and can walk with a cane (sometimes without). There is very little swelling. I really, really don't want to have to have a MUA, but at what point does it become a must? I've only had one day where I felt there was some progress but then nothing. I want to give it time but I also don't want the surgeon to say, "Too bad, you
 

Jockette

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It can take a while to regain the ability to bend. It just takes time to heal. Surgeons are often in a hurry and ignore the healing factor, and thus want to do a manipulation.

You have the final say about an MUA. He can’t do it unless you sign the consent form.

You are still in very early days in this one year, on average, recovery. Follow our guidelines, and let your knee heal.

It’s not exercising that gets our range of motion back, it’s Time:

Time to recover.
Time for pain and swelling to settle.
Time to heal.

Our range of motion is right there all
along just waiting for that to happen so it can show itself.

In the general run of things, it doesn't need to be fought for, worked hard for or worried about. It will happen. Exercise as in strength training is counter-productive and in the early weeks does more harm than good. Normal activity is the key to success.

One of our members, Bertschb, kept a record of his ROM process. He agreed for us to post it for those of you that are afraid you're stuck. The key is to have patience! Bertschb says:

“I'm 12 months out from my surgery and have some advice based on my experience:
1- Stop going to PT (all it will do is make your knee swell and reduce ROM)
2- Don't worry about your ROM
3- Be patient - VERY patient!!!

Here is my ROM history (more or less):

1 month - 60 degrees
2 months - 80 degrees
3 months - 85 degrees
4 months - 90 degrees
5 months - 90 degrees
6 months - 110 degrees
7 months - 120 degrees
8 months - 125 degrees
9 months - 130 degrees
10 months - 135 degrees
11 months - 140 degrees
12 months - 140 degrees

I spent waaaaay too much time worrying about ROM. I thought I'd be riding my bike a couple months after surgery but it took SIX months! Looking back on my surgery, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have wasted my time with PT and I wouldn't have worried about ROM.”

We agree with what Bert said.
 

TimeBuster

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When I left the hospital after my surgery on March 29, 2019, I had a flex of 35. I was worried big time that I was never going to bend my leg but the OS assured me that my ROM will come in time. When I started outpatient physical therapy at 5 1/2 weeks and had a flex of 75. I'm in my 8th week now and my flex is over 100 and improving every day that goes by.

I feel your concern as I was in the same boat too. But you're only 3 1/2 weeks out give it time remember your knee is at the first stage of healing as your knee starts to quiet down you will see improvements in your flex. As far as the MUA goes, I wouldn't consider it until at least three months or better.
 

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