6 Months Post-Op TKR, 4 1/2 Months Re-surgery...& Constant Pain

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I am 6 months post-op TKR right knee. Between insurance politics/delays & the hurricane hitting 2 weeks post op, my recovery was delayed slightly as I only got a couple of PT sessions within the first 3 weeks. Unfortunately, 6 weeks post-op I fell in a parking lot and my knee reopened nearly top to bottom, resulting in emergency surgery and almost a week long hospitalization. I was lucky (so they say) in that my hardware was not damaged, but it essentially started the recovery process over as my leg was immobilized for nearly 2 weeks due to the risk of the incision reopening yet again. I was released from PT before Christmas and only made it that long after repeated appeals to insurance. My release notes stated that I was "functional" and therefore no longer needed therapy, even though I could still not walk more than 20 yds or so without my knee giving way due to instability (still a fall risk), and my balance as a whole was poor (additionally, my quad was only partially engaging still due to the long term damage that had weakened it to the point it quit working). Since ending PT, I have joined a gym and visit 3-4 times a week, doing many of the same exercises I was doing in PT to try to build strength and balance around the knee, and riding the stationary bike a lot. I am still having lots of daily pain, some of which is excruciating, the tightness builds quickly, and nerve pain around my incision is starting to increase again (I ceased all pain meds with the help of my pain mgmt doctor in December). I have a great deal of discomfort around my kneecap especially, as well as the inner left side of my knee where the drain tubes were in following my emergency surgery. My incision also dries out to the point the skin feels like it is cracking, and I can't seem to use enough Vit E cream. Dr told me 6 months to a year due to the setback from my fall, but I did not expect the pain to still be this bad at this point, and I cannot bend it nearly as much as I was able to do in PT (I made it to 125 degrees in therapy; I would bet I am about 110-115 now). I hate to complain, but it is affecting my quality of life and not sure if my expectations are too high or not.  I keep hearing my case is unique...I wish I had someone to relate to.  The pain is affecting me in so many ways, and I miss being happy. Pre-surgery, my knee hurt, but nothing like this.

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  • Posted

    I am so sorry to hear of your trouble. That must be so frustrating. I am almost 6 months myself. I work on exercises too and have a ways to go still in recovery. There are wonderful insights from people on this site that I am certain will help you. It’s a long recovery process without complications & you have suffered a lot. Just be kind to yourself do the work and know you’re not alone. Recovery they say is definitely a marathon and you sound like in spite of everything you are pacing it out well. I reached125 a couple of times in pt too but have been discharged. I think I am still making some gains slowly. I too wish it was faster recovery but I am learning patience through this process ans now appreciating the small success. 

    Be happy because you will be alright as long as you listen to your body. I am so happy to hear your knee was not badly injured in fall. It will get better smile better is what lies ahead of you now! Best wishes smile

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    • Posted

      Thank you, Robin...I guess being an over-achiever and someone who is used to always "going, going", a process such as this is a reminder that one needs to slow down sometimes.  Having a hard time staying positive, but after finding this forum and others who can somewhat relate, I have hope that I am not alone.  Thanks for the words of encouragement!

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    • Posted

      You're very welcome! You are not alone believe me lol I struggle too. But I just have to believe it gets back to kinda normal in the next few months lol it's gotten better so I just know it will get better for you too. We can all hang in there together. Cheers to a full recovery and we will just keep plugging away in the interim 😘

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  • Posted

    Keep at the exercises. I am almost 11 months and have achieved stability and flexibility in the knee. I too had delays in PT caused by insurance and scheduling problems. I still have intermittent pain but can walk 3 or 4 miles. You will probably have some pain and stiffness for some time to come. Hang in there, this is not a fun process.
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    • Posted

      Sounds like my expectation are a little high...I have always been accused of being an over-achiever!  Didn't expect easy or fun, but also didn't expect to fall or to have the long term pain. Do you remember at what point you felt like you had reached a turning point in your recovery as it pertains to stability?  Thanks so much!!

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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear of the rough time you have had. There are still 6 months until you hit a year post op. There is lots of time for further improvements.

    It sounds traumatic and it might be useful to talk through the emotional aspects of your experience with a counsellor maybe? Worth a thought, it could help your mood and make things feel better.

    Regarding pain does icing and elevating help? Does resting improve it?

    Is it possible that some milder pain relief may help you? Did you come off pain relief because you were on a lot of opioid based medication?

    I hope you feel better soon...but keep in mind the huge patience needed in the process.

    A bend of 110 is easily good enough for daily living activities...There is no need for disappointment with this at this point because it can shift very gradually over the next few months and you may not even notice it! Do you still have a fair amount of swelling?

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    • Posted

      Thanks jenny!

      ?I do try to ice, elevate and rest when the swelling gets bad, and I take an anti-inflammatory and Tylenol as needed also.  I was on opioid based meds, which is why I wanted to get off when I did.  I did not like feeling dependent on them and also did not like the side effects on my digestive system.  My frustrations are that I still struggle to get down on the floor/get up easily when I want to play with my youngest, and he is aggravated because I can't do simple things like go outside and play ball with him because of the risk of falling--I still can't jog after a ball, and the instability I have in our yard makes it hard to keep my balance.  My knee was hurt for so long that he was looking forward to mommy being better after surgery so we could play and do fun stuff, and lately he is getting as frustrated as me bec I still can't do much physical with him (and he is tired of board games!).  I also have a teen who is a competitive shooter, and her events involve lots of walking on ranges across the state, so I am missing out on seeing her compete as much as I used to because I simply can't keep up.  Missing out on my children is the most heartbreaking of all of this.  Maybe I am being impatient, but after 6 months, I thought I would be further along.  My swelling is better, and usually only bad at night after I have been on my feet a lot or doing lots of physical activity.  Maybe I am just being impatient and need to shift my focus to be more positive.

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    • Posted

      Yes, that must be very hard, being mum too...I have two teens but I couldn't imagine looking after a very young child post op. Look, it's really challenging and with your set back you are really only 4 and a bit months post op. The improvement big time start to happen for most people around six months...

      It's natural to feel discouraged and frustrated, but just hang on in there and yes, make a big effort to focus on positive things. Unfortunately we have expectations about how long things will take that need to be moved constantly.

      I am now 11 months post op and am reaping the rewards. Do you know, though it is hard for the kids, they can also learn something really worth while from this experience, it won't harm them to appreciate your limitations and maybe there are ways they can help you a bit. Saying that, the most I got was an occasional cup of tea, however I do think they learnt to appreciate a bit more what I do!

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  • Posted

    I had a set back in that I got the flu, had to go back to therapy!.i an about 5 months out and back to work ( 12hrs on my feet work at hospital as apct)I found massage of the scar tissue with essential oils was life saving! I use peppermint, pepper, eucalyptus.At night a balm I made of lavender and lemon grass,Deep massage of muscles and scar tissues loosen up the leg and allow me a better bend. It would also help heal and moisturize that dry skin.I do have swelling and am told that could continue for the next year. Hang in there it really does get better!
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  • Posted

    I am so sorry about your setbacks.  Falling  is probably the greatest fear we all have.  At eight more baths, feeling great, I was walking my 87 pound pup.  He saw a squirrel, pulled so hard that I tripped over some uneven pavement. To protect my knee, I turned and fell on my side. I got up, finished the walk and took some naproxen when I got home. The pain got worse and my husband insisted I go to regent care facility. Turns out I fractured a couple of ribs.  Nothing to be done about that ( don’t stretch, don’t turn from waist). Took a while but finally I was ok.   It’s been months and I got back to walking ( without pup) right away. Now, we are back to everything. Squirrel season is over.  

    Take each day slowl. Have you tried Volteran cream or Pennsaid cream. Both perscription meds. Also, bio freeze might give a bit of relief.  I used a dog leash, handle part hooked around foot, to aid in leg slides. 

    Read tge the post of Chico Marx.  His links, insights and humor are indispensable.

    Stay in touch. This forum got me through this brutal surgery.

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  • Posted

    Everyone is different and I hear every surgery is different.  For me, it wasn’t until around 8 months until I was walking mostly normal and my leg strength was consistent. I am not one of the best case scenarios but it is slowly getting better day by day. Hang in there.
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