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Pain Threshold Level & TKR

I was recently reminded of something that has me perplexed. I was asked to rate my pain on a “pain threshold level” after my eye surgery. It brought back memories…

One thing that took me off-guard during my initial phases of tkr recuperation was the phase, “how would you rate your pain?” WHAT!!?? Rate it? It hurts. “On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being excruciating…where is your pain level?” When I was first asked that question, I was totally dumbfounded. What was I comparing it to? What’s mild? A minor annoyance? Why talk about it? What’s excruciating? How can pain be excruciating if you’re able to calmly talk about it in the doctor’s office?

That doesn’t make sense to me. It’s so subjective, how can it possibly be used as a diagnostic tool? Us TKR people know that any beginning exercise can be extremely painful. It doesn’t last long, though. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Plus, it’s part of the rehab process. If the pain level has diminished (but definitely will return), if we rate it at 4 (for example), it makes the pain sound bearable. This is after a minute earlier, the pain was at the point of “OUCH!! I’M GONNA SMACK SOMEONE!!” We need to work through our pain, so how can we rate it?

If you are used to living with pain, it is difficult to rate it. It’s a part of life. That’s my opinion, anyways. If the pain is sporadic one minute, intense the next, alternating between throbbing and sharp the next … how do you rate that?

I don’t understand that diagnostic tool at all. If anyone can provide some insight, that would be great.

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6 Responses

  1. I can’t shed any light on the “Pain Threshold”. but can attest (and no doubt my fellow TKR -ers) to the fact that in the first several weeks you wake up with heavy pain that you have probably had every waking moment in the night , take your pain meds, and are prob better for the most part of the morning, with light aches and pain, then as evening comes perhaps go into more annoying pain. This has been my experience anyway, so I can’t say at this point in my rehab I’m at 4 or 5, as it varies through the day.I’m coming up to 7 weeks now, and still experiencing a lot of pain, although mobility is improving. Some good days some bad…………Looking forward to the day when I’m at 0!

  2. hey marie,
    I could not of said it any better. I think it is a trick question of what is your pain number today. In pt they wrote the number down for their records and continued to work with you to get that number Higher. lol Or maybe the one that says their pain number is 0, gets the grand prize. (or maybe that surgeon gets the prize) haha After a tkr pain is pain no matter what number it is. Hopefully one day they will figure out how to get rid of it faster. Until then we just hang in and hope each day gets better. take care all

  3. Yesterday, I had little to no pain at all at work, and attributed it to my new wonderful shoes……but last night when it was time to crawl into bed, it seemed all of a sudden, my knee began to ache/swell and just got worse….I finally got the ice pack and strapped it on. Today, my whole leg was swollen and just painful all day…….I wore my old shoes today just in case it is the new ones that are bothering me. It always takes a while to break in a new/different pair.

    I am also off the Celebrex, for about 2 weeks now, and that could factor in, because my wrist/thumb has flared up causing a lot of pain writing, typing, playing piano, counting money……I’ve been using my paraffin bath every night, which feels wonderful but doesn’t give long lasting relief.

    Maybe it’s the cold weather….maybe it’s the shoes (Shape ups by Skecher)….maybe it’s the lack of the Celebrex….I don’t know….I just know that tonight I’m still in pain……and will be going to bed early!

    On a scale of 1-10…….lol…….my whining would be an 8…..

    Merry Christmas
    let it snow…let it snow…let it snow!

  4. Driving question…For those of you who had a TKR on your right knee, how long was it before you felt you could safely drive?

  5. I am 4 weeks after TKR Right Leg- here are my questions

    From my ankle up to my thigh it etches like crazy like a prickley heat -any help

    When I ice my Knee I get a hot spot (pin point sore) inside side – any ideas

    • Hi Randy,
      I haven’t had either of your concerns. If it gets worse, I recommend contacting your doctor.
      We don’t give medical advice here.
      Good luck!

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