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22 Month Post-TKR Update

I’ve been getting comments from recent tkr patients who say they are sorry for undergoing the surgery. We (tkr vets) all understand the initial negativity. With all the pain and frustration, it’s easy to not see the big picture. I hope my update helps….

Wow, it’s been that long already. 😦 There’s a saying that time goes faster the older we get. It must be true. Anyways, I thought I’d give an update on my tkr deal.

Positives:
Joint pain. I have no joint pain in my tkr whatsoever. It’s probably because I don’t have a joint. (I’m chuckling to myself here.) This brings back memories of when I had my initial follow-up doctor appointments after my tkr. “Do I still have arthritis in my knee?” I asked.
“It’s hard to have arthritis when you don’t have a joint” was the chuckled response I received. If looks could kill, he wouldn’t be here today. Now, I can chuckle about it. At the time it didn’t strike my funny bone.

Walking aides. I don’t have to carry crutches around with me. I am not concerned about my knee locking up on me.

Walking. I can walk without pain. Period. That alone is worth the tkr and all the recuperation it takes. I absolutely love walking. (I was going to say “simply walking” but had to change the wordage since it’s not simple when you cannot do it. We have to build ourselves up to do it).

Drugs. I am not taking any medication. The only thing I do take occasionally is some aspirin.

Weight loss. I have lost 20 pounds that accumulated while I was unable to do continuous aerobic exercises.

Flexibility. My tkr leg can be fully straightened, which is no small feat. It feels great to be able to sit and stretch my hamstrings.

Flexion: I estimate my flexion as being 110-115 degrees. That’s better than before my tkr.

Stretches. I can do a variety of stretches and yoga poses which benefit my entire body. That was not possible until months after my tkr.

I can touch my toes (and floor) and have the stretch feel wonderful, not painful.

Body stretch. I can usually do a full body stretch (like a cat) prior to getting out of bed on most days. This was impossible until just a couple of months ago. It feels wonderful.

Pain. There is no sharp or dull pain surrounding my tkr from exercising.

Sleep. My sleep is much more sound than during the initial eight to twelve months post tkr.

Not negatives, just concerns:
Even though I am grateful for all I have, and do not want to come across as griping, there needs to be some items that are not totally positive. So…

Stairs. Stairs are not my favorite thing. When I’m going both up and down, a slug would win the race. Going upstairs seems to be more difficult due to my “good” leg taking more of the brunt (my body weight). Going downstairs is slow, but doable.

Nerve pain. There is still the nerve pain from a previous bone spur. That is always going to exist, so it’s not that big of a deal to me. Sometimes sleeping on my tkr side makes the pain worse, so I just shift positions. Remember that joke, “Doc, it hurts when I do this?” “Don’t do it” replies the doctor? (Changing sleep positions was NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE due to the pain level during the first year post-tkr.) The pain seems to get worse after my walking exercises. Strange how that occurs. It does not happen after riding my stationary bike.

Tightness. There is still some tightness in the front of my tkr. It usually takes me a couple of minutes to loosen up on my exercise bike until I can pedal 360 degrees.

Dressing. Dressing can be a drag or bummer. Putting on pants and/or socks, especially, is a pain in the patoot (slang for butt). My tkr does not bend enough to make the process easy. Same with pantyhose. Still, it’s not painful like before my tkr.

Shopping. Clothes shopping is a bite. Even though I’ve never really enjoyed clothes shopping (I used to make all my clothes in my school days), it is dreaded now. Trying pants on is not fun at all. Oh oh….I am griping.

Swelling. After exercising for longer than 45 minutes, my tkr swells up. The swelling is much less intense than previously, however. And, the pain is not there like during initial phases of tkr recuperation.

Well…I can’t think of anything else now. Hope this helps others going through the same thing.
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4 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I had surgery for bilateral tkr Dec. 3, 2009. I have been coming to your site on and off reading and getting a lot of valuable information. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your own experiences.

    I was in the hospital after surgery for 2 days and went into rehab for 6 days. On Friday I was discharged and arrived home equipped with “numbing pills”. The doctor that discharged me out of rehab was just going to give me 5mg of hydrocodone and I had to remind him I was 8 days out of surgery with both my knees replaced. He added oxycodone to the scripts which he was reluctant to do but I so didn’t care. This was less meds than what I was taking while in the rehab.

    I started physical therapy on Monday. Tuesday I had to call my surgeon up and request an early visit and to talk about my pain. I got an appointment for the next day. While there I had my staples removed. That was an uncomfortable experience.. I also had x rays taken. The doctor listened to my complaints and he started to examine my progress. He was thrilled to see how well I was doing. He thought I was in so much pain because I was doing to much. He was correct. I was pushing myself because I thought the more I did the faster I would recover. Not necessarily. I actually was able to walk without any aid when I arrived home. I did for awhile but the next day I paid for it. I barely could walk. So I knew what the doctor meant when he thought I was doing to much. He upped my hydrocodone to 10mg and I told him that I probably didn’t need the oxycodone anymore. I have no idea why I thought I could do without but I did. He said great, stop that and continue taking the hydrocodone and call me in a couple days to tell me how you are doing. I called and told him I was better. The day after my call, I was not doing ok again. For some reason my pain had increased and still my sleeping was maybe 2-4 hours a night and it wasn’t a steady 2-4 hours. I wasn’t even napping in the day. I was very uncomfortable. I called again to see if maybe I could get some sleeping pills. I was told the doctor only prescribed narcotics. I needed to call my primary care doctor. I was lucky enough to get an appointment right away and the pc doc put me back on the oxycodone but only 1 before bedtime. My sleeping improved. I now can sleep a solid 3-5 hours a night. Still I have pain breakthroughs but icing, or moist heat helps me get through them.

    Last night and all day today I stopped taking my 10mg every 4 hours of hydrocodone and switched to 5 mg every 5 hours. I also am going to attempt once again to stop the oxycodone tonight. I just want to eventually be drug free and deal. I know I won’t be for awhile in PT. I plan to take 10mg of the hydrocodone 1/2 hour before PT.

    Sorry this is so long! Again, thank you so much for all your info. It helps me see that I am on the right track. I know not everyone is the same with this tkr but it helps to see where others are.

    Oh, I’m 56 years old and overweight. I have lost some weight and will continue because I’m done abusing my knees with being overweight. These new babies are going to get treated better. I also have a blog and have been writing about my experience. It helps me to write.

    • Hi Carol,
      Thanks for your kind words and update. Prescription medications didn’t do anything for me, except give me breathing problems.
      Icing is the best pain med I’ve found. Cheap, natural, easy and quick. 🙂
      Good luck!

  2. Booktoots you say you go down stairs slowly, does it cause any pain or swelling afterwards?
    I’m 14 months post TKR and was doing great – dressing, walking, no pain, rare swelling or stiffness etc – until a few months ago when I tried to push myself to go down stairs normally (rather than always putting my unoperated foot first). I stopped after a couple weeks because my baker’s cyst flared up, the dreaded band just above my knee returned, and i’m feeling soreness just below the knee. Even though I went back to going down stairs ‘abnormally’ (unoperated leg first), months later i still have all of these problems. Very frustrating since I experienced a period of time without them, and my exercise bike, which was a godsend before, hasn’t been helping much.
    I talked to a couple people who had TKR and they said stairs were a piece of cake after 4-6 months or so, which is not reassuring me at this point. Any advise or commiseration would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Hi Jane,
    Going downstairs is painful and slow. I haven’t noticed any swelling.
    Recuperation is different for everyone. Don’t compare yourself to others, since there are so many variables. Only compare yourself to yourself.
    Good luck!

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