9 weeks Post Op - when does recovery stop??

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Had TKR on 13/2/16 with NHS direct in a private hospital.

Last 9 weeks have been a nightmare from torturous pain and sleep deprivation- also family members seem to think I should be better after 6 weeks so there's little sympathy there!!

I go to a physio class once a week. You get six of them free on the NHS but to be honest I have been so worn out from it all that my home physio has been a bit lax. I feel if I stand on a box at home I could fall off it. A few behind tge chair crouches etc and stretches in bed is all I've been able to manage.

The surgeon said I could drive at 4 weeks but I think that has done something to my foot.

No way would I go with NHS in a private hospital again. They throw you out too early and they're not interested in any problems you may have.

I said to the surgeon could he X-ray my foot when he does my knee but he refused and gave me the impression I would have to go to my GP. He was all for it when I complained about my lower back being painful which I think is a result of all the medication- probably need a new hip he said. But there was nothing wrong with my hip before I had this op. Well he said your body is probably full of arthritis- no it's not I thought. What's this all about??

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh Mary,  better after  6 weeks!! It takes a full year for most people, I have had both knees done and like you nhs and in a private hospital they put me out after two days but not until I could go up and down stairs! They kept my pain under control with morphine and other drugs I can't spell so that was ok. The physio came to my house four times and put me through the usual hell but it had great benefits after so I was glad I did it although I dreaded the knock on the door!

    i did drive after five weeks but as I have an automatic it made life easier.

    try to keep positive take all your meds without missing any, very important to keep on top of your meds. And so start icing and elevating your heg hugely important. I am still going to the gym three times a week and the exercises I do are designed for tkr recovery and they work,hard but they work.

    please don't think about standing on boxes and new hips I'm sure your hips are fine this tkr is a very traumatic operation in so many ways and having been through two I know now that I thank God I only have two legs!!

    keep strong in your mind and you will get there, it just takes a whole lot longer than you think. Xx


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  • Posted

    Hi Mary ... there is no way after 9 weeks that you will be anywhere near recovered!!! I needed 3 months off work and in now 14 months tkr and I wouldn't say I was fully recovered although I would say I was 100% better than I was before the op. Maybe you should explain the procedure to your friends/family. Like have your knee sliced open muscle nerves and tendons ripped and your WHOLE KNEE removed before its replaced with metal and plastic!!! Then it's all moved back into place and either stitched stapled of glued. The pain is awful the medication makes you feel like crap and the last thing you need is people telling you that you should be better after 6 weeks!!!
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  • Posted

    Hi Mary, Im sorry to hear youre struggling so much, I hope I can help a little.

    9 weeks is still REALLY early in the TKR process. I had my right TKR 13 months ago, and my left one 5 months ago - Im still going through the recovery process with BOTH of them!

    Its really sad that your family dont understand what youre going through - a fractured leg is barely healed after 6 weeks, let alone a TKR!! Have they had the procedure explained (I mean REALLY expained) to them? If not, tell them this - or words to the same effect - Basically, your leg has been virtually cut off,  muscles sliced through, ligaments removed,the bones sawn, chiselled and had big holes drilled in them. The Surgeon then shoved cement deep ino the holes, and hammered ( and I do mean HAMMERED!!) hunks of metal and plastic into these holes. They then stitched layers and layers and layers of different strength stitches, and added in some glue and then a couple of dozen staples (if you were stapled, I wasnt). Then after a few hours, they get you standing on that leg and try to make you walk on it, bend it, lift it.....IF you try and explain all this, and still they dont get it, then I suggest you go onto YouTube, and show them the full procedure, in full Technicolour. I can pretty much guarantee THEYLL be feeling a bit techniclour after watching it, but it will give them a bit of insight as to why youre not feeling the best..... Personally I think its criminal that Surgeons dont give us the full picture about the TKR process and recovery, and I think that Health Care providers have a duty of care to inform patients and their family/friends what theyre likely to experience. Ive heard it said that TKR is THE MOST brutal surgery a person can go through, and has the most complicated, long and painful recovery. I believe it!!

    And I think it was irresponsible and dangerous for your Surgeon to say you could drive after 4 weeks - your Insurance was most likely invalidated, plus you were on painkillers - let alone what damage could have been done if youd been involved in an accident.....

    You say that you think your pain meds may be responsible for your back pain - I really think this is unlikley (not a professional opinion, obviously) and that its more likely to be due to the change in your stance, posture and walking manner since your surgery, I experienced this after both my surgeries, and it does get better as you get stronger and your muscles build up.

    I suggest a visit to your GP, to discuss getting your pain under control, and also the fact that youre not sleeping. "But I dont want to take any more tablets" is the response often heard to this advice, but GP's have a huge armoury of different medications at their disposal, and they can prescribe things that help wth both pain and sleep. Medication, Exercise and Rest - the Holy Trinity of TKR! You HAVE to exercise, but you DONT have to be in pain! There are no medals for struggling through in pain, and a (relatively) pain free, well rested body heals MUCH better than a tired, hurting, dehydrated one. If youre not sleeping at night, are you resting during the day? You have to rest! Lie down legs up, ice, NAP! Napping is my best friend, and can be yours too! People can think its self- indulgent to lie down and sleep during the day but if youve been up, crying with pain through the night, unable to get comfortable, feeling sick with exhaustion and pain, then why the hell not nap?! Stuff the housework (you shouldnt use a vacuum cleaner for 12 weeks post op anyway....), make yourself a cup of tea and hit the pillows! My TKR Mantra "If you can sit, then dont stand. If you can lie down, then dont sit. If you can sleep, dont be awake" has stood me in good stead and helped a few other people as well. 

    I cant tell you how important your exercises are - I KNOW it hurts, it hurts like hell, but if you dont do them, then you wont get a good resut from your surgey and all of this pain will have been in vain. If youre not sure what you shoud do, then Ive got a little set of exercises/movements that I do every day (some days I do them 3 or 4 times, some days I only do them once). Id be more than happy to share them with you - the only way we get throught this rotten, brutal process is by helping and supporting each other. Even at 13 months out from my first TKR Im still learning new things about it....

    Sorry Ive rambled a bit - anyone who knows me from this forum will know I dont do short posts lol! So to sum up - 

    * REST -  Day or night, on the sofa, in your chair, in bed - just make sure youre resting.

    * PAIN CONTROL - Absolutley vital that you gat that pain under control so that you can then 

    * EXERCISE - A little bit at a time, a few times a day, is better than trying to do it all at once. 

    * FOOD/DRINK - I hadnt mentioned this, but you need to make sure youre really well hydrated, as your tissues wont heal well if youre dried out. And eating - if you dont feel like eating much, just eat what you fancy or can manage. If youve lost your appetite, dont worry it WILL return. 

    So, I hope from all that waffle you can maybe pick out a couple of bits of advice that can help you. Keep talking to us on here, PM me if youd like to, Im always happy to listen. And most of all, just keep on keeping on. We'll all get there in the end.

    Terri xx


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    • Posted

      Terri that's a brilliant post, just says it all. totally endorse everything you've said. I'd only add that I didn't wanna know the gory details of surgery. What I was totally unprepared for was  (with the exception of one particular young lady PT) was the crap treatment I had in the whole discipline of Physical Therapy. I'll discuss this more in my comment to Mary.


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    • Posted

      Love this Terri well said!  Can i copy it  print to show my kids (all grown up but still at home) who think at 6 weeks post op i should be back to normal!

      I am feeling great (apart from not sleeping) my knee is a gift to me to give me a new start on what has been a totally miserable couple years. S x

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    • Posted

      Hi Sue, of course you can! Anything that helps explain to others just how wretched this surgery can make you feel.

      You sound pretty positive, onwards and upwards for both of us! Xx

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  • Posted

    Hi, Mary, hang in there. I'm 10 weeks out tkr. In US typical to be up and out on day two. That was Saturday and Monday I was at first out patient physio. Twice a week for eight weeks and daily at home excercises. Don't quit. I know - pain hurts. I get back and hip pain but think it's probably a lot of compensation for not being up straight and pretty weak...ankle too but I don't want to get mixed up with another doc right now. Hoping that will take care of itself in time. If you're still swelling - definitely elevate and ice. Fortunately I've finally gotten past that crazy incision nerve pain and getting good sleep. Only taking Advil twice a day and maybe Tylenol PM or Percocet to start off sleep. It seems to help to get good sleep right at the start. Since I don't have physio any more, it's up to me to do the stretching and muscle building. Don't over do but do push. Good luck.


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  • Posted


    hi..in the US...in and out of hospital in 2 days.  I am now 10 weeks po tomorrow.  You have to take your pain meds...with food even a small amount...and do home exercises.  

    My hubby also thought at first that I would be good at 6 weeks.  I had to have a long talk with my hubby and my best friend...they both thought I needed to get out of the house...go out to dinner...go for car ride...at 6 weeks....told them both thru tears....you just don't get it...I love you...glad you are concerned...only I know how I feel...and I am allowing my body to make the calls.  They both backed off.

    i also had pain in the top of my foot and it actually would swell up a knot on top on a regular basis.  I believe the other pains are from the way you walked...sat...etc...prior to surgery...as my surgeon told me...you know you compensated for the knee pain...now you have to relearn to do thing the right way.  I still think about how I walk...heal to...heal toe.  

    If if you drove at 4 weeks...you may have just pulled something...boy I did that early on...it has to heal...takes time.


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  • Posted

    Hi Mary i had a PKR at the end of Feb like you on NHS in private hospital was glad to be out after 3 days. I kniwcwhat you mean about family i dont think they understand about the pain etc they seem to think you should be back to your normal routine like looking after grandkids. . I am back to work on monday will be about 9 weeks. Still not sleeping very well the pain i can control through the day just not so good at night. Physio i saw 3 times and they sent me away with exercises to do and they do not want to see me again so i just try and get on with daily life. Hang in there it is hard work but so glad i found this forum
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  • Posted

    Hi mary im 2 days before u on 11/2/16!!! And yes it has been torture! I had mine at an nhs hospital came back from theatre at 6pm on a thurs and went home at lunchtime on the sunday! I dont know how that compares? I would be interested!
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  • Posted

     Hi Mary,

    Well my experience with this is a tad different. I too was an NHS patient in a private hospital (in Cornwall) and - with the exception of the PT department I had brilliant treatment, and would go back and do it again. My partner was absolutely brilliant. My strength. My kids live overseas and I have no immediate family close by.

    My timeline was - 6 Nov 2015 surgery late morning; 9 Nov - home, as scheduled; 19 Nov, bandage removed; 24 Nov back to hospital for PT review; 29 Dec for surgeons review; 26 Jan back to work; 29 Feb surgeons review and now scheduled for final surgeons review on 1st Anniversary of surgery - 1st week Nov 2016.

    To fill in the details - I’m 71, I drive buses 30 hours or more a week. Had a partial right knee replacement (medial compartment).

    Surgery was late morning by late afternoon I was sitting in a chair bending my leg back as far as I could and straightening it too and walking around on crutches. Next day intensive PT and the day after too. Monday I had to prove I could manage the crutches and climb stairs on crutches, then home. I had no offer of ongoing PT appointments, none at all.

    Once home I did my exercises 3, sometimes 4 times a day. Sleep went out the window - pain unbelievable - but that was my fault. I have a heart arrythmia and am on Warfarin and so can only take CoCodomol 30/500 for pain relief. They did try me in hospital with liquid morphine and then Tramadol, but neither touched the pain at all. So, I took the CoCodomol when I did exercises - big mistake - I read the instructions on the paper in the packet and took doses as instructed, i.e. 8 tablets spread out over 24 hours.  Eventually got pain relief under control.

    Second mistake was believing that the booklet on exercises I’d been given by NHS was the ‘gold standard’. It was totally inadequate.

    I eventually found a whole range of exercises and extra ones on Youtube. Much better, much more meaningful.

    For the first 8 weeks up till 29 Dec I rested, elevated, exercised, iced, stayed on my crutches and was as grumpy and frustrated as hell. After 29 Dec I was able to do away with crutches and started driving my manual car again. Continued the exercises until 26th Jan 2016 when I went back to work. After that it was easy street. Nowadays, no problems at all, some minor tightness around lower knee cap, that’s all.

    BUT - there were things I did myself at my own expense which I believe have made a difference. 8 weeks before surgery I consulted a Sports Injury Therapist with the objective of making the right knee as strong as possible (Quads etc) prior to surgery. This was done because the stronger the knee/leg etc was before surgery the better it would be able to handle the barbaric process that was ahead and would make rehab a bit better to deal with. Then, after surgery I went back to the therapist for wound massage. That all paid off.

    Medical care, given the heart and warfarin issues -  was totally brilliant.

    PT - simply put -  not fit for purpose. They were just useless.

    So, that’s it, my two penny worth  which I hope is of interest.


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  • Posted

    I had my knee op in a private hospital under the NHS and have to be honest about this , they were brilliant. I stayed 2 days, lots of after care. Went back 22nd April to have staples removed, and all brilliant. I have been told only to drive when I feel ready to be able to an emergency stop. I am currently 17 days post op, walking unaided. I have stated to do more and more exercise and start physo tomorrow.

    Please understand that when you are referred to a Private Hospital from you GP that can only deal with what you have been referred for.

    I have been suffering with lower back and hip pain and was advised that it may be down to my knee and once everything is done and my recovery is well in its way would I need to see my GP if the lower back and hip pain was still bad. I would then get referred again under a different referral.

    You must not give up, dealing with these issues can be difficult at times and when you are in pain everything seams worse than is is. Get your pain under control, sleep when tired, and drink plenty of fluids and this will help. Doing daily exercise is important and belive me after a few times you will feel the benefit . I use the ice packs all day and night if unable to sleep ( using 3 blue ice packs placed in a pillow case fits perfect around the leg) 

    Dont try to run before you can walk, everyone heals at a different rate, and peoples tolerance to pain is very different.

    I wish you well, and hope that you will feel the benefits of having this operation done soon.


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    • Posted

      Hi Jackie,

      ​Thats interesting. I had my UKR done as an NHS patient in a private hospital and my feelings are much the same as yours. I was in 3 days. You mention lower back and hip pain. Prior to surgery I was having increasing amounts of pain in my lower back and my right Sacrilliac Joint (Si joint), This was because my gait had changed over the years and my bio mechanics was all messed up.

      ​Now, following surgery and when I became properly mobile again I found that this pain from these areas has all gone  but now, when seated I have some pain at the top of my left hip. As soon as I get up (which poses some discomfort actually getting up) and start walking I have no pain anywhere. I put this left hip pain down to - again - the bio mechanics of my body re adjusting.


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