Knee Replacement

Post Knee Replacement

There are many kinds of knee surgeries. Knee Replacement is what we will talk about in this blog.  Knee replacement is usually necessary when an arthritic or badly injured knee becomes extremely painful and it feels like bone is rubbing on bone.  When you cringe when you have to climb stairs or when kneeling is almost impossible, it is time to see an orthopedist that specializes in replacements. Sometimes they will inject the knee  or have you do certain therapies to extend the time before you will need to have a replacement. Usually knee replacement is discouraged until at least age 55, some Drs. say 60.

I have had 2 knee replacements and suffered with knee pain all during my 50’s.  What helped me most was swimming at least once a week and water therapy pool. What hurt the most was; climbing uphill, any kneeling, going up or down stairs or dancing. Since we lived in a 2 story home and my office was in the finished basement, the bathroom and kitchen on the main floor, I did the stairs many times a day, with the pain.

My first knee replacement was in 2004. I chose the right knee first.  After not being placed in a CPM machine for several days, even with therapy, the initial recovery process was slow. I caught up within 2 weeks or so.  My 2nd replacement in 2006, same orthopedist, was done in a different facility and I was put on a CPM (continuous positive motion) while still in the Recovery room.  It was paced at a slow pace. I asked to have it brought home with me for 2-3 weeks (rental) following discharge from the hospital (usually 2-4 days post surgery).  I did my required & more therapy each day. A therapist usually comes to your home–many times both Physical and Occupational therapists are sent to check on you and help. I also did extra exercises as tolerated–you MUST be diligent about doing your exercises, even on your bad days.  I used the CPM machine and cranked up the bend & speed each day.  You must have a bed footboard or couch end where the machine can stay stable, otherwise the machine will move away from you.  I asked to be put in the CPM during the night for an hour or two–it took pressure off my back and also kept the knee having motion during the night.  It eliminated some stiffness and pain in the morning. I consider the CPM machine to be your best bet for a quicker recovery.  Many times you must ask for it.  If your Dr. says “you don’t need it”, tell him/her — You do!

I previously could not walk, sleep or even swim without pain and within 5 weeks of 2nd knee replacement I could go to a therapy pool and do some moderate swimming.   At 6 wks. I was doing laps in the pool..  I find that Drs., in general, do not stress water therapy enough.  It is non-weight bearing and makes movement so easy and recovery much quicker.  I was able to walk upstairs without pain, able to dance and have full knee flexion on both knees.  I was told I would not be able to do the breast stroke with the normal “frog stroke” with my legs.  I try to swim laps twice a week and CAN do the frog stroke–no pain.  I can even dance the polka w/o pain.  I have NO knee pain still.  How long do the replacements last?  I asked my Dr. if they lasted a couple of decades as I had heard.  she said “I will let you know when we get there”.  Much depends on your initial recovery so make the best effort to do all that is necessary to recover.  Those few weeks of pain, pay off if you do what you should.

So here are the musts for Knee Replacement Surgery & recovery:

*Pre-Surgery: Find yourself a pool to swim in or use a therapy pool if one is available –4-6 weeks prior to your replacement to strengthen knee, as tolerated.  Don’t push too hard–just get your muscles as strong as you can.