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14 Months After My TKR – Progression Update

It has been 14 months since my total knee replacement surgery. Some of my readers have been wanting to know about what they need to be concerned about, what to expect, and/or are they progressing like others. Here is where I am at. You can use it as a general guideline, since everyone is different.

I must admit, however, that I am cautious about talking about all of this. It seems that Murphy’s Law follows me everywhere. As soon as I say how great something is doing, BOING, it acts up again. I’ll take a risk, anyways in writing this – just because I want to help others going through the same thing…..;)

Walking. Starting out VERY slowly, now I can walk at brisk pace similar to that of a speed walker.

Hamstring. After months and months of painful stretching exercises, my hamstring is finally stretched out. When I walk, I can feel my tkr leg swing like a “normal” leg. Nice.

Nerve pain. In recent posts, I was commenting on the severe pain that ran on the outside of my knee from my lower back to my ankle. It has decreased tremendously.

Leg straightening. First out of surgery, the main concern was my leg needing straightened out. This is where the hamstring stretching came into play. PAINFUL, yet effective. My leg is straightened now.

Gait. After wearing an inch shoe lift for 30 years, my gait was off after my tkr. Now, I need to wear a shoe lift again, but my gait is more “normal” than ever.

Flexibility. This is the area I need to work on. It is at around 100. However, after having trauma 33 years ago, I am not that concerned about it. It is much better than prior to my tkr. And, I will continue to work on it daily.

Quadriceps. Immediately after my total knee replacement, my quadriceps needed working on big time. Now they are strong enough to support my leg and tkr knee.

Leg movement. This has gotten progressibly better, only because I have done exercises diligently. I can now move my tkr leg in all directions. This was impossible the first few months out of a tkr.

Stiffness. My tkr knee does get stiff. I counteract this by riding my upright bike every day. That helps immensely.

Sleeping. We all know about the difficulties, or lack of, sleeping during the first few months after a tkr. Well, just within the last month, I noticed I can – for the most part – sleep painlessly. I also can sleep in any position I want without extreme discomfort. NICE!

Laying flat. Even though I can lay my tkr leg flat onto a surface (such as a bed), after about 15 minutes it does sometimes start to hurt behind my knee. Then, I just prop it up on a pillow. It could be much worse.

Well, that is about it. Considering what my total knee replacement recuperation was like the first year after surgery (frustrating, painful, sporadic, etc.), it has improved 100% in only two months.

My post has been written. Please don’t respond, Murphy. 😕

Copyrighted Information, 2009.

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23 Responses

  1. It’s nice to see what time can accomplish with a tkr. I’m finally seeing some significant improvement in balance and gait after 9 months and almost giving up. It helps to know that you have seen improvement in just the past two months. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  2. I have spent the last couple of hours reading your fascinating blog and related comments.It,s 10 months since my TKR, and I went through many similar trials and tribulations that many of you have experienced.
    I have an appt. with my os tomorrow and I had a list of concerns ( numbness on the outer side of the knee, stiffness,swelling, some pain etc.) But after reading your blog I am now aware that these are common occurences and can be expected.
    And to also boost your morale, for the last three months I have been playing doubles tennis 11/2hour sessions 5 times a week in arizona.
    Keep up this wonderfull blog. By the way I am 70 years old.

  3. Hi Janice and Keith,
    Thanks to you both for your encouraging words. That’s why I do this blog, so we can all help each other. 🙂

  4. I’m also an avid hockey fan, Ottawa senators keep me excited but not to be this year. However I think your Detroit will do it again.

  5. Keith,
    YOU ROCK, DUDE!!! 🙂
    Er…thanks for your positive comment regarding my Wings.

  6. I had a tkr 6 weeks ago this coming tuesday and I am frustrated about not being able to bend my knee past 65%. They say you should be bending 90% by two weeks. How do you get there? My knee has been bad since I was 16 and had a couple useless surgeries before but this one has been pretty good except the fact of the bendability.

    I cant even ride a stationary bike yet…aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggg. I can only do forward and backward rotations with it and it is frustrating not to be able to go all the way around. Any suggestions? Linda

  7. Linda,
    I had my TKR 12 days ago, and to my horror, I was allergic to the major pain meds after 5 days. I tried Tylenol and also broke out in hives. I am trying to keep moving and stay limber since i get little relief from discomfort. I just got a stationary bike and It’s great. The first time I tried to turn the pedals I was horrified. I finally put the seat as high as I could stand and sat back as far as I could, and then moved from side to side on the seat so the pedals could go all the way around.
    If ANYONE out there has tips of things I can do to alleviate pain and discomfort, I’d appreciate the tips.

    • Peggy your polar ice pack is the best thing ever for pain and swelling. I dont know what i would do without mine. if you cant take pain meds..then use the ice. and walk and stretch

  8. Hi Linda,
    You sound like me with the flexion issue. I’m still about 100 after 17 months post tkr. It’s due to scar tissue. Not worried about it, though. I can walk without pain. Read through my blog for more suggestions to help you. Good luck! (Your email doesn’t work, btw).

    Icing is the best natural pain reliever around. There are other suggestions throughout my blog, also. Good luck!

  9. Hello, so there is still hope that I can get more bendability? I have been going up and down stairs and using a recumbent stationary bike…its the one that is not the standup one. I have noticed i can get it all the way around now with moving to the left. I dont really have any pain except in the muscles and the swelling has almost gone away where I dont need any ice.

    I want to be able to ride a bike again and walk without being stiff legged. they say if you dont get it in 2 weeks you might as well give up? i cant do that.

  10. any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  11. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for leaving your comment. No matter what anyone says to you…don’t give up. You don’t sound like the kind, anyways. 🙂

    I still get stiff legged after sitting awhile and I’m …let’s see…17 months post tkr. I don’t worry about.

    Hang in there! Keep in touch and good luck!

  12. I think you are doing a great job with this blog. I am 7 months and happy with the way things turned out. I had a small scare last month, for no reason I couldn’t put weight on my knee? Went away in 2 hours. Than OK for 3- 4 days only to happen again. Called my Dr. and we did blood tests to make sure it wasn’t an infection. Fortunately it wasn’t.
    His theory was that I may have rushed myself with playing golf to soon and damaged some rarely used muscles. Gave it 3-4 weeks rest and everything back ok. Working on strength exercises and riding exercise bike.

    I share this because like many of your posts, recuperation can be VERY frustrating, especially first 3 – 6 months. Better info on your blog than from Dr.’s office. Thanks, keep it up.

  13. Well my progress is now 10 weeks after tkr and I am finally at 95% but it dont seem like it wants to go any further. I try to keep positive but it is hard. thanks to this website for encouragement since I am no longer able to do phys thereapy now that i am laid off with no insurance. Any help on how to get it to bend further would be greatly appreciated.

    • It does get a bit discouraging. I am at the level you are about 100 degrees. I have been doing more walking than riding my exercise bike or swimming or going to the gym and have found that I was getting a stiff knee. That was at the 13 month period. It takes a long time to get past the stiff knee. Some days there is no problems, then the next day it is stiff again. Some may be weather related, I live where the weather is very changeable, goes from rain to sun every other day. I do think weather affects the knee more than the hip. I had that replaced March 17, 2008. I wouldn’t go back but it is something that requires consistent exercising. Just get into the rocking chair and push that knee back as you rock and then head for the bike.

  14. hello linda
    i am 7 weeks out of my second tkr on the same knee in 11 months. the excercise that helped me the most and amazed my therapist, was the step stretch. put your foot on a step, not a real high one, and bounce it gently while stretching it in a bend. go as far as you can by bending it alittle further each time. do that for as long as you can tolerate it. the bend stretches the muscles out and lets you get a little more bend out of your knee. i would do this all the time throughout the day whenever i got up. the other way you can do it is by sitting in a rocking chair and just rocking back and forth pushing alittle more each time. so give it a try and you will be bending more before you know it. take care.

  15. My doctor says that after 3 months you dont get any more mobility out of it..does that mean if it dont bend all the way it never will?? I am a bit concerned about that.

  16. What do you mean by bend “all the way”?

    I got increased mobility after 3 months. That’s why I diligently exercise.

    After 18 months, I cannot bend my knee more than – estimate – 110. I have excessive scar tissue from a previous injury affecting my tkr flexibility. It’s still better than before my tkr, though.

    When I was at your post tkr stage, my flexibility was 95. I didn’t have anyone (including my doctor) telling me I couldn’t do anything (other than not putting extreme weight on my tkr). I heard “maybe”, leaving it up to me.

    I would lose my patience with your doctor. He/she doesn’t sound too encouraging. That’s me, though.

  17. hey linda
    i agree with marie, your doctor doesn’t sound to encouraging. but guess what you don’t need to have his encouragement to do well. you can certainly get more range of motion out of your knee the more you keep pushing it. i am telling you, if you do those excercises i mentioned above in the rocking chair and on the step, you will see an improvement every day. you just need to stretch out those muscles little by little and it will work. as the swelling goes down too you will see more mobility. and all of these takes place well after 3 months. so don’t panic, keep working at it and time will tell, and your hard work will pay off. and when you need alittle encouragement, just check in with us here and we will give it to you, no problem. we are all in this together. take care and keep us posted.

  18. No NO he is a wonderful doctor, I mean i Had no issues with the surgery and I was just asking questions. Maybe I misunderstood what he said. In any case what I mean about about bending all the way is I am about 95% now..and my goal is to be able to go bike riding eventually.

    I have seen alot of progress and still have muscle pain in the thigh and well the knee seems “stuck” and wont bend any further. I am just at another frustrating moment in this surgery.

    I really appreciate all your help and comments and encouragement because it makes me feel like it will be ok. I am glad I found this site.

  19. I havent been able to work out that much in the last couple weeks because of taking care of a dying friend. She has since passed and I was wondering if that is a set back or if I get back into working the knee out, can I still make progress?

    I’ve been down and havent had the gumption to work out. I have been doing the step thing as much as possible but not much other exercise.

    Thank you

  20. Hi Linda,
    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s death. That’s never easy.

    Even on those days when you don’t have the gumption to exercise (and we’ve all been there), doing simple isometrics will help. I know they did for me.

    Blessings to you…

  21. THANK YOU all for your comments. I am 5 months post op TK replacement. I thought I was failing until I read all of your blogs. I have 120 degree bend and can do steps one at time with handrails. I live in an upstairs conds–16 steps each time up and down. I am graduating away from my cane except for long distances. I do get tired easily and as many said the side of my leg is numb still. My biggest problem is the outer side of my surgical knee where it bends. It remains sore and still spasms toward the end of the day. I do still ice it when this occurs and take anti-inflamatory meds. Otherwise no more pain meds. It is encouraging to know that I’m going down a normal recovery path. This is very valuable information. Thanks again, Margie

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