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Old 02-11-2008, 09:23 AM   #1
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Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

My history is I had horrible knee pain 5 yrs., stabbing sharp pain from ankles to knees. knees locking up, popping out of joint, usually unable to walk. 53 yrs old. saw orthopedist several times prior to surgery, (Good Looking) did not know what questions to ask, little to no information given, however I do tend to appear confident. Surgery Jan 10. very healthy. several small prior surgeries for other things I was up and going in a remarkable amount of time. I was with the understanding this is a 6 to 12 week recovery time, In my mind I heard 3 weeks I'll be fine!!!
I was given the option for type of anestesia. I chose no spinal or epidural, I was given choice for catheter,I chose not. Asked nurse to protect my modesty in surgery she was very warm, caring.
When I came out of surgery I was on the morphine pump. I was very itchy but in no pain as the day progressed the itching became worse, apparantly itching is a side effect,I had to the extreme and had itched bleeding sores, pain med was changed to something that did not work well finally 3rd change worked, I was weepy. I recall using the bed pan only several times. to pee. I was pretty much in a blur for 1 1/2 days.,
On the second day I was able to go to the bathroom on my own with the walker,I discovered I was unable to lift my leg at all and had to have it lifted for me. very alert 3 rd day. I was o.k. but while the incision site seemed numb my left side of shin and left side of upper thigh throbbed as if hit by a car. 4th day was transfered to a recovery facility for 1 week for after care and physical therapy.
got there at 3 pm. was asked if I had had a bowell movement, no!! was given a stool softener and laxative for 4 more days with no results. It seems every one had the same problem so on top of pain your dealing with constipation, I had my husband bring up magnesium and gas x. took 2 magnesium am and 2 pm. fineally went potty. gas was also a problem where gas x was a gift from God....Nurses are busy don't expect to be babied. They put a triangle bar on the over hang of bed so you could pull your self in.I made a circle with a piece of fabric and hooked it on my foot to pull my leg up in to bed, it worked great.
Day 2 physical therapie, was told to make sure you get pain meds 1/2 hour prior . it made a ton of difference in ability. I loved physical therapie its a bit of work but you being coached and praised and cheered a-.lot. for about 45 min where you work both legs I was unable to lift my knee replacement leg at all and wondered if I would ever be able to again, I did in about 1 week. yea but I could walk with a walker and went up and down stairs on day 2, yes it hurts, it hurts a lot but it is different it is a very tight strong throbbing, not sharp stabbing as before.
Day 2 in rehab I sobbed uncontrollably all day. I did not know why,it was fineally determined by doctors and hospital psycologists that it was anxiety caught up with me. In preperation for surgery I had to put my business in anothers hands, clean house, pay bills,make sure there were groceries at home for family, feel guilty for Husband having to work and come to hospital every night bringing me things, feeling guilty for bothering nurses with any thing,etc.etc.
In 1 week had made big progress. however it was still very painful hard to bend. after the 3 rd day in rehab pain med is no longer delivered every 4 hours you have to ask for it, so make sure you watch the clock. and start asking 1/2 hour in advance. I continued to love physical therapie. your put on coumadin and stockings, the stockings do help relieve pain besides helping circulation.
I am now at 4 weeks, when I keep my leg down for 30 or more min. it swells and is more painful . so my 3 week time line had passed which also caused me to cry -dissapointment that I'm still recovering and not fuly functioning. At 3 weeks the pain is considerably less but still there. I like my pain med 1 every 4 hours, why suffer plus I function better not in pain. going for my 1 month check tomorrow it seems like 1 week. A nurse came to the house 2 times a week to check coumadin levels and incision etc, the staples were taken out in 10 days, some of them hurt coming out but its over fast, a physical therapist came 1 time a week at my request as the copay 35.00 a visit I can do the physical therapie myself, I have to make myself.
I figured out to put my foot on a skateboard while sitting. I can slide my leg back and forth to exercize the knee. I put my hand tight over the incision while bending. it feels better.
Every one all around had told me I've done very well compared to most but it isn't fast enough for me. I stopped using the walker after rehab and never used a cane I have to focus on walking heel to toe and not limping. its just easier to limp. but even I know thats not the way to go. Now I'm just looking forward to the day every one says I'll be so glad I did this. I keep telling my self it could be worse...........

Last edited by tiredbeinsick; 02-11-2008 at 09:31 AM. Reason: to make neater

 
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Old 02-11-2008, 03:14 PM   #2
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Re: Total Knee Replacement,RECOVERY! THINGS I WISH I KNEW!

WOW, you must be the twin I have never met! I will be 53 in May, my TKR was 1/18/08. Your post reads as though I wrote it! With few exceptions- I didn't go to rehab and the Coumadin dropped my blood levels so much it was stopped immediately and I had to spend 3 days in bed until I had regained my strength. It is strange how you think you will never be able to lift your leg again and suddenly it's moving. I must say though I was educated by my doctor incredibly, including a class that outlined the procedure from A-Z! I like the skateboard idea,very resourceful. I remain inpatient myself, I have reached that plateau where I am ready to climb mountains-my body is just not ready to co-operate yet. I have to keep reminding myself it's only been a little over three weeks-patience much prevail!
Best of luck to you, continued success!

 
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Old 02-11-2008, 05:47 PM   #3
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

It was great hearing from another like me. Good Luck!!

 
Old 03-14-2008, 08:41 PM   #4
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Well, I'm the triplet of the bunch!!!!!! 52, had TKR (left) 8/08 and going back in a few days for the right one. Tuned in to see what people had to say b/c much of it is a blur. The itching and crying happened to me - itching from the meds AND crying from the meds - I couldn't stop - I wasn't sad - as I was crying I was laughing - Why am I crying???? It IS from the meds.

Everything you said could have been me!! I love my new knee - that's why I was not hesitant to go back in for the other - that, and I can't bear weight on it!! For some reason, I am more nervous this time, and without reason as the first one went so well!

And thanks for reminding me about the meds - I remember asking one time "Isn't it time for my meds" and the response was that I had to request meds. And I had awful headaches - I am packing coffee and Coke b/c EVERYTHING was de-caf - not sure if it was caffeine-withdrawal, but I'm taking my own caffeine and hoping for the best.

 
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Old 03-23-2008, 07:50 PM   #5
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

My 65 y/o mom is going to have a TKR in a few months and I have a question for you all.

1. How long was it before you could go back to work (she's a secretary)?
2. If you went straight home after the hospital and not to a rehab hospital, how many nights did you need someone to stay with you? How many days did you need someone to stay with you all day long? (my mom lives alone and I don't have a bed for her at my house)
3. Did you have to wear one of those knee exercise machine things on your knee a few times a day for an hour or so? If so, could you get it off and on yourself or did you need someone to do it for you?
4. How long after leaving the hospital did you need to use a walker or crutches?
5. How long after leaving the hospital was it before you could drive?
6. How long did you do outpatient rehab? I think my mom was told it would be for 4 weeks, 3 times a week. Is that normal?
7. How long was it before you felt and walked normal again?

thanks so much!

Last edited by microwave; 03-23-2008 at 07:51 PM.

 
Old 03-26-2008, 07:58 AM   #6
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Hi, I'm the origional poster. There are no hard answers to some of your questions it is a very individual surgery. I'm a Hairstylist and have many clients also who have had this surgery with 2 month to 6 month recoveries. I worked 3 hours a day after 14 days,I had to contend with swelling as a result of that and the stockings and ice helped a lot but otherwise working full time at 6 weeks. it is now 10 weeks since my surgery and for the most part I walk normally late in the day it gets tender. It gets stiff and actually feels good to bend it. This is a very hard surgery,harder than I anticipated but after about the 4th week I could see it was a good thing, hopefully there will be a class available to your mom with all the info she needs, I was not told about it untill after however even if I had gone I would not have known what to ask! Your able to walk with a walker right away and I stopped using it the second week. I took pain meds for 4 weeks,they don;t want you to drive while on meds. I drove week 2 when the pain med had worn off. Physical therapy was recomended 3 times a week for 6 weeks. I did all of my own 3 times a day and am very flexable can move it in many directions comfortably. the PT feels good,The machine is a good thing you can lay down and let it do the work for you. Make a circle with a rope and practice hooking it on your foot and lifting your leg with it,this way I was able to get myself in the bed and into the machine by the 5-6th day. I found shorts and t-shirts the best things to wear. The support stockings they put on you feel good. I got a potty chair and shower chair at the thrift store and put the potty chair next to my bed only for night that was a big help. start exercizing your muscles now-- squeeze tour thigh and calf muscles flex your foot- leg lifts, I understand bending it may be painfull but you can build up those muscles with out bending your knee,she will be given a book of exercises, make up 4 bags of slush ice..1 1/2 cups water 3/4 cups of rubbing alcohol and in to a 1 gallon zip loc bag-squeeze out air and double in to another bag these are wonderfull and feel good to,I put a dry washcloth next to skin first. After a few days your Mom should be fine by herself,think about taking a magnesium pill daily for a week before the surgery and keep on while on pain med it will make a big difference. Sorry typing is not my forte. Good Luck, Hope it's easy for her....
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:27 PM   #7
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Thanks so much!

 
Old 04-09-2008, 07:19 PM   #8
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

3 Months tomorrow since TKR, today is the first day my knee feels normal like it belongs there .when it swells from standing too long it feels hot and last week it felt like i had had a brick inserted instead of knee parts. it is still a little numb but today i realized half way through the day it's O.K. I would do it again!!
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Old 04-09-2008, 09:31 PM   #9
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Hi,

I had a TKR on my left knee two years ago. Now my right knee is having the same kind of pain as the left one did. I anticipate having minor and major surgery in the future.

Until I get to my orthopedist, which I have an appointment with next week, I am going to try using a cane. I had different people tell me which side you are supposed to use a cane. One doctor said use it on the same side and another said use on the opposite side. Can you let me know through your experience which side worked best for you? I would be interested in hearing from you all.

Thanks for your time.

Painfree4me

 
Old 05-30-2008, 02:58 PM   #10
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

1. How long was it before you could go back to work (she's a secretary)?
I'm retired so this doesn' apply to me... but it's been 6 weeks and I probably could go back to work if I had to.

2. If you went straight home after the hospital and not to a rehab hospital, how many nights did you need someone to stay with you? How many days did you need someone to stay with you all day long? (my mom lives alone and I don't have a bed for her at my house)
I went straight home on a Thursday. My husband stayed home that Friday and helped me do EVERYTHING til he returned to work on Monday. I had a potty chair sitting near the recliner during the day (not pretty but a blessing), we'd move it beside the bed for night use (again, another blessing). I had an extention for the potty in the bathroom... I still use it especially in the mornings when I first get up. Had a walker with wheels, (a life saver) It really depends on your mother and how well she starts becoming mobile. I didn't clean house or anything like that but was able to get up and go to restroom and walk around the house for exercise. She'll need help for the other things for a while.

3. Did you have to wear one of those knee exercise machine things on your knee a few times a day for an hour or so? If so, could you get it off and on yourself or did you need someone to do it for you? Yes, It's called a CPM machine. I had a therapist that made home visits for the first 3 weeks. It was part of my therapy. It helps a lot get some of the flexiblity back. At first, I needed help but then I learned how to do it myself. I took a large bath towl and folded it in half lengthwise, hooked it over my foot, pulled back and swung my leg into place on the CPM machine... I used a thin towel (we all have some, the worn out kind.)


4. How long after leaving the hospital did you need to use a walker or crutches? My surgeon only allowed walkers, no crutches. I weaned myself off in about 3 weeks to one of those canes that has four feet... that helped a lot.

5. How long after leaving the hospital was it before you could drive? My followup checkup was 3 weeks after surgery. The doctor gave me permission to drive "when I felt comfortable. I had my right knee done, the one we all use when driving so I wanted to make sure. I drove around the block a few times with my husband present to see how I would do... I now drive all the time..

6. How long did you do outpatient rehab? I think my mom was told it would be for 4 weeks, 3 times a week. Is that normal? I just finished my 2nd week and I missed a week (got sick)... again, that depends on the individual. The only thing I haven't mastered is going up and down stairs.

7. How long was it before you felt and walked normal again? I had to get myself emtionally ready for this. I just told myself to "stand up straight, don't look down and pick up that leg, don't drag it"... that took about 3 weeks. The knee "pops" when I'm walking normal. Several others that I have talked to said that is normal.

Hope this has helped you. I know I asked a lot of questions before having the surgery done. I put up with the pain for over a year and now I'm mad at myself for putting it off...I haven't met or talked to anyone that regrets doing it.

 
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Old 05-30-2008, 06:06 PM   #11
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Quote:
Originally Posted by painfree4me View Post
Hi,

One doctor said use it on the same side and another said use on the opposite side. Can you let me know through your experience which side worked best for you? I would be interested in hearing from you all.

Thanks for your time.

Painfree4me

Use it on the opposite side or you will end up walking like House (TV show)
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R.Knee: Arthroscopy: '06; TKA indicated
R Hip: Arthroscopy '08;

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Old 06-15-2008, 03:49 PM   #12
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

I fail to understand WHY we would use a cane on our good side rather than the wounded side.
I do have OA in both knees, feet, back but I'm the kind that has an extreme fear of being put to sleep again (bad experience in the past) so surgery is not something I even discuss with a Dr.
Non-the-less I get some pretty bad OA days with the knees, feet or spine.

I find using a cane on side that is so sore helps take weight off it the painful area and therefore I have less pain. I hold the cane straight exactly next to the leg..not out to the side. This helps me not limp from pain. Cane walks with the leg as though I had it glued there.

Using a cane of the least sore side woud not get rid of any pain, not help me keep balanced as I walk.

I really can't understand useing a cane on the non-painful side.

Last edited by snowmelts; 06-15-2008 at 03:53 PM.

 
Old 06-15-2008, 05:44 PM   #13
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

The textbook way to use a cane, which worked very well for me, is this:

If your right leg hurts, put the cane in your left hand, and move it in time with your right leg, leaning part of your weight on the cane.

This is considered better for two reasons. One is that it's easier to balance on two things (leg and cane) if the two things are on opposite sides of the body. The other is that it is more natural to swing your right leg and your left arm together.

Give it a try, see how it works for you. You might want a doctor, physical therapist, or longtime cane user to critique your technique.

Actors on TV (including Dr. House) don't use canes as recommended. The only time I've ever seen an actor use a cane correctly was one who really did have an injury!

Also, it might be possible for you to have surgery while awake, so don't totally rule it out.

 
Old 06-15-2008, 06:50 PM   #14
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

Yeah, I know about spinals.
My cane use is not daily yet. When I use it it's more due to the foot arthritis and heel spurs than the knee. I do use athletic braces on the knees for bad days evey so often and that is a big help.

Truthfully I'm hoping my knees hold out, with help like canes or even a walker, for 5 more years untill they have this new gene therapy for osteoartritis perfected for humans. British (I think) scientists are working on it and it holds a lot of promise.

So cane use is important to me. Right now the cane "takes the weight off the joint in question" and useing opposites is not the same to me.

But I'll work on it.
Gave it try after reading your post and discovered I'm not even much of an arm swinger! Probably too many years of holding that cane straight at my bad side and also the fact that I'm trying to keep my toroso straight too. I make an effort to keep my spine very straight when I walk. I had to actually think about moving my arms opposite.
But I will work on it.

Last edited by snowmelts; 06-15-2008 at 07:00 PM.

 
Old 06-15-2008, 06:57 PM   #15
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Re: Total Knee Replacement: Recovery - Things I wish I knew!

I used a cane for several months due to ankle pain. I pretty much had to put in the opposite hand, because putting it in the same hand made me tilt ever so slightly, which caused the ankle to hurt more than walking without it.

Whatever works for you, though. Just make sure it isn't causing other problems elsewhere in your body. (I don't know exactly how that'd work, but it does happen).

 
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