7 months (tdy) post TKR - feel like maybe some light at the end of the tunnel

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Well, today is officially 7 months post TKR on the left knee ... like many others, I have to say that this discussion group has been a life saver - especially in the VERY dark early days! I had a lot of scar tissue that made a bend nearly impossible and had a manipulation in August of last year at bout 12 weeks ... this was definately the turning point for me as it enabled me to work with PT at getting a really good bend (by the end of PT it was 128 degrees - altho a little less now I believe since I am no longer pushing it) and right now I can do most things in terms of climbing stairs fairly normally - still need to hold a handrail as well as coming down normally - again with a handrail and more slowly than I used to. The bend enabled me to do more of the kind of exercises (like biking) that strengthen the quads - which is the 2nd issue I had. Due to some unknown cause - tournequet too tight, for too long ... or residual muscel weakness from previous surgery ... the quad was totally out of commission for the first 6 weeks after this surgery and would nto support me ... so like starting to learn to walk with that leg all over again!

I saw someone else on the forum a few days ago mentioning balance issues ... I certainly felt that way too (better now for the most part) but that was right up until 6 months post op ... even going up onto the curb or 1 stair when there was no handrail put me off ... I felt unsteady. They sure don't tell you about all the 'extra' stuff that you can experience, do they?

right now, my main issue is lack of confidence out of doors - since I live in Canada and we're enjoying a late start to a snowy winter (we had a green xmas and I 'loved' it!)... I am just afraid of slipping and falling on ice (especially when it hides under the snow) and have not gone out too much ... just car to office building or car to grocery store, etc and I walk like I am 106 years old .. which isn't good either as you tend to hold yourself too ridgid, so if you DO fall ... etc .. ... I have two dogs which I used to walk at least 2 x a day in all weather, so I know they are missing that ... but I feel like the extra risk in being pulled at the wrong moment isn't worth it ...

I also find that relative humidity makes a huge difference to how the knee feels ... on high humidity days (especially cold ones) the knee feels like cement again (although it still bends with little difficulty) - it feels like it did back in the summer ... I assume this is normal?

Lastly - the clicking in the knee .... I don't think it is the artificial knee itself ... but could the ligaments be moving in such a way (not painfully) to casue that clicking sensation ...? more disconcerting than anything ...

I am compiling a list of questions to ask my surgeon when I see him towards the end of Feb ...any other comments are welcome ...

Going to be spending a month in Florida starting March 1st so am really hoping that once I get to warmer climes ... the old knee and the new one will feel more like my own again ...

thanks to everyone on these forums for making me feel that I was not alone ...unless you have been part of this 3-5% you really just don't know! xx

1 like, 16 replies

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16 Replies

  • Posted

    Donna,

    I hear you with the humidity making pain worse.  I swear I can predict storms now, particularly when the barometic pressure is down, man it hurts 3x as bad.....

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  • Posted

    You have given me hope. 3 months post op and wondering will I ever not be afraid to walk normal again. Thanks!
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    • Posted

      that is hard especially with slick and snowy roads and sidewalks.  My problem is having walked to accommodate pain in leg with TKF for two years, am having issues with other knee now, possibly spurs.......Good luck everyone
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    • Posted

      Muffet - you will get there ... someone suggested keeping a journal (just even bullet points) ... you will be able to track improvement. At three months, I too, despaired of ever approaching normal. In fact - at three months I had had a manipulation so was really starting the whole rehabilitation process from there ... when I look back now - I am amazed at the changes ... not done yet .. but as I said - seeing some light at the end of the tunnel smile
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  • Posted

    12 months next week - and this all sounds so normal to me - but am getting even better. have to admit I did panic the other day when for the first time ice was on the ground and I had that fear of slipping. The answer has to be very good shoes with a grip and if necessary use a stick - it is not worth the risk of a fall. We have gone through a lot to get these new knees and we have to look after them. 

    For me - its seems that building up muscles around the knee is the key to strength, balance and mobility. I went to a private trainer at the gym and it has been a godsend but then for a few months I was depressed and did nothing - my knee got worse and I gained weight. Now I am losing it (again) and building up my fitness and already my knee is less sensitive (always been sensitive on the scar), less stiff and more mobile after 5 sessions one each day for 30 minutes - they know which exercises to do,how many reps, weights etc and I am so pleased i am back on the leg extensions and leg curler and can literally feel the improvement. Everyone said it can be up to a year (and even more) which is really frustrating when I know people who have recovered very quickly - for me the magic 12 months is coming but I know that, if I put the effort and thought into it I will improve even for another 12 months. It was stiffness and discomfort rather than pain from about 8 months, so hard when you want to be active and normal. Getting an automatic car really helped too. 7 months is still 'early' so jsut keep at it and hopefully though a lot slower and less noticeable (keep a monthly diary) you will see more improvements. I can go upstairs easily and downstairs normally most days now and could not do that even 2 months ago! Dont give up. We are all here on this forum and for me it has also been great as I live alone. Sorry - hence the long reply!! 

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    • Posted

      Thanks Caroline ....I have heard too that 12 months = in most cases back to normal .. so many things and variables to consider. I don't live alone, but I have a partner who 'thinks' some (most?) of this is in my head ... if he only knew!  I've offered to trade knees with him several times ... even for 15 minutes (LOL) but he won't agree ...I can't wait for the snow to go away - and looks forward to walking more with the hounds .. and just not having to think about every move I make! smile
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    • Posted

      It is confidence and our knee should be able to do what a normal knee does - we dont normally fall over (unless drunk perhaps - and I have stopped doing that!) so the chances are slim, especially as we will be taking more care. Try small distances at first. Enjoy your walks. Hard for anyone to 'get' this - yes some is 'in our heads' as well - but that doesnt make it less real and most of all it is in our 'knees' which are linked to our heads!!. 
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    • Posted

      That bites your partner doesnt believe you.  I live alone and dont deal with that but I feel some coworkers think that, I wish they had to deal with this for one day.......

       

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  • Posted

    I hope florida will be enjoying better weather by then!  I'm one year post op . .there is still some stiffness in my knee, and I was very surprised to find that after taking an anti inflammatoriy tablet (for my painful ankles) the knee was a lot freer  . . I really didn't think there was still inflammation at 12 months post op!  I get the clicking sometimes, but not all the time.  I believe it's quite normal . . I also had problems due to the tourniquet being either too tight or on too long. .and the whole my thigh area is still numb . .I think I'm stuck with that for ever somehow. 
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    • Posted

      hey there ... I have tried Aleve at night too - and it does work! Like you, I thought that 'by now' the inflammation should/would/could be gone smile ... but when you think about it ... all kinds of things are still healing in there and being human - as soon as something feels a bit better we tend to over do!  I really am looking forward to being somewhere where there is no ice and snow and warmer temps as the leg still doesn't like the cold (Dr. said that this is normal, especially if, like us, we had a muscular injury with the knee business).

      I feel like a hermit .... and watch all those people just walkin' around like it is the most natural thing in the world! LOL

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    • Posted

      I've been taking anti inflammartories for three days now, and this morning decided to check if my bend had improved at all . been stuck at 120 for absolutely ages.  Well, with a lot of pushing and shoving managed to get it to 130 this morning!  there's still a point, about the size of a 10p piece, which really hurts when I bend it further than it wants to go . . on the inside of the knee.  That's been the problem right from day one!  of course, it's nowhere near as painful now, thank heavens!  No ice or snw here!  24 degrees this morning (around 75 fahrenheit)  Blue skies. . . .lovely!
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  • Posted

    Hi Donna!

    I'm almost seven months post op on MY LEFT TKR, too! (Had #2 done three months ago.)

    Your bend is better than mine! Good progress, Donna! I keep working at bend, but I work even harder to maintain my STRAIGHTENING because that helps me get a MUCH BETTER stride. My Springtime Goal is to resume my 3-5 mile walks that I so enjoyed before all my craziness with knee pain began five years ago. ( Of course I will begin with a walk down the street and back!)

    I, too, had severe tourniquet pain with my left leg following surgery. Everyone would ask me how my KNEE felt. All I could feel was pain like someone had shoved a STEAK KNIFE into my thigh! Also, like you, I had one heck of a time feeling my left quad muscle. It was as though it had DISAPPEARED! (A brilliant technique suggested by one of my physical therapists was to do the exercise with both legs simultaneously. When I DID that, it was like Leg #2 --my not-yet-surgical leg-- was TEACHING Leg #1!!! A few weeks later I was able to do quite well finding and using my left quad muscle!)

    I laughed (Sorry!) when you said your leg felt like cement! I would describe my left leg in those first three weeks as a TREE TRUNK filled with CEMENT!

    We are here in NE Ohio, about a mile from Lake Erie--quite close to Canada! We loved our green Christmas, too! We finally have lake effect snow, so when I go out to the mailbox I walk across the grass. When I go to my neighbor's house I also walk on the grass. My thinking is if I feel like I may fall, I can just RAG DOLL it and fall safely onto the soft snow!

    For years I walked our son and daughter-law's German Shepherd at lunchtime. In Winter, she and I never walked on roads because I didn't want her feet to be harmed by the salt. We would jump through big drifts, and sometimes she would zig as I zagged. I'd go down, and she would come over and lick my face as I would laugh and TRY to get back up! I learned how to stay loose, so I never got hurt. Glad I learned that technique then because I STILL use it! (When I am more confident I may take over her walks again!)

    Have a GREAT time in Florida! Wading into the ocean is great practice for balancing, and if you fall, you just have to worry about NOT swallowing salt water!

    Keep in touch! We have experienced so many similar things!

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Cheryl ... you made me laugh too as I can picture you falling loose limbed into the snow ... why not do a couple of snow angels while you're down there? 

      I can't wait to feel more confident - a friend of mine has a 50 acre bush lot with lovely trails cut through the woods and on winter days it is gorgeous in there ... so silent and white ... and the dogs love being off leash and playing the in the snow.. but i'd be a bit afraid of going on my own with them, plus deep snow in some areas with 'stuff' underneath that you can't see ....

      I bought a pair of super grip snow boots - they are supposed to be SO grippy that you can walk up walls .. (kidding). They weigh a ton but have been quite good so far ... I try them out on different surfaces by doing a little controlled skid (I get weird looks ...but too bad!) and so far they have performed as advertised.

      Thanks again for your reply!  feeling like someone understands is more than half the battle...

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    • Posted

      Nice to hear from you!

      Those gripper boots sound GREAT! Our oldest son and daughter-in-law have gripper thingys that they strap to their running shoes so they can run in the snow. Work amazingly well for those who think running in snow classifies as FUN!!!

      SNOW ANGELS! Great fun! Once when we were jumping through the snow drifts my boot came completely off, I toppled over and Saphira came over, licked my face and lay down beside me in this big drift just like it was the most normal thing in the world. When I went looking for my boot, Saphira began rooting around with that long nose of hers and came up completely covered in snow...with my boot in her mouth. LOVE how she really "gets" what members of her pack need!

      The 50 acre lot with all the trails sounds awesome! When you are ready it will be ready for you. It is always fun when dogs can be off-leash! We have a dog park that is completely enclosed so all dogs can be off-leash. Saphira and I played ball for nearly two hours one day. Her joy of jumping in the drifts to retrieve the balls was SO EXCITING to watch!

      Yes, this site is wonderful because you KNOW that those on it are experiencing many of the things that you are experiencing. Family and friends TRY to be helpful and supportive, and they ARE helpful , but support from those who have gone through the ordeal of surgery and the recovery are TRULY able to support us in special ways!

      Have a great day, and enjoy those Super Gripper Boots!

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