Bilateral Knee Replacement - various questions at 6 weeks

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I had bilateral knee replacement surgery June 27th. I decided on bilateral as my legs got extremely deformed and bowed in the past 12 years. Now they are straight, and I have 120 degree flexion, and full extension. I'm still having a challenge with managing pain with meds, and per doc's advice decreased to taking 5 mg oxycodone  3 to 4 times throughout 24 hours. I also started taking lorazepam for sleep as waking up every 2-3 hours for past 5 weeks was a drag. I still wake up a couple of times per night. I'm icing several times per day, and night when I wake up. I'm meeting with my orthopedist this week and he wants to take me off all narcotics and just take Advil. I'm not ready for that. How do I convince him that I still need stronger pain meds? My early evenings are the worst, and it seems every day I'm brought to tears with discomfort with deep inner ache not only in my knees, but also radiating down my legs and arches, and lower back.  I keep on wondering if I have radiating pain due to the fact that my legs were straightened and now my body has to compensate for this new straight leg gait. My lower back hurts also after some walking. My activity is limited to getting around the house including stairs, walking 1 to 2 hours per day running errands, 10 min on stationary bike and my PT exercises. Is that too much? I'm told by my PT that I should not be walking much - but how much is too much? Should I not be running any errands? I need to get out to not get depressed. And how do you build up your strength? My right knee is way stiffer and painful than right knee. When does one get back to more routine and normal existence? I have not gone back to work yet. I know that recovery is very individual for everyone. When can I expect some type of breakthrough, and get through a day without any pain? Anyone with bilateral knee experience out there that can shed some light on my dilemma? Thanks!

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  • Posted

    It takes time for your body to get use to your knees straightened and the changing hait. Continue to be patient, it will come.
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  • Posted

    Hi Ann

    Im sorry, I don't think anyone could give you an amount of time it takes to be pain free.  Im 10 months on from bilateral tkr's and am still taking pain medication.   I might be one that's at the losing side to success though.  All I know is, it's more of an ache now, different altogether from before the op.  You're right though, that your back aches because your legs are straight and it's like learning to walk again.  You will find read that some patients are back doing spin classes and walking macro thin walks.  It's great for them, I'm so jealous.  We're not all going to get to that stage I don't think.  Saying this, it doesn't mean that you won't.  It's still pretty early days for you and remember, it was one hell of an operation.  Remember when they got you to walk for the first time after their op?  If anything like me,  I leaned in to this walking frame and thought I'd never walk unaided again but we get this strength from somewhere.  Determination plays a big part.  I was all " I'm doing great" in the beginning but have not made the most of these new knees.  Tell your doctor you can't be without the pain melds for a while longer.  They don't know how you feel.  They worry about addiction and stomach ulcers and go by the book.  I still take OxyContin and panedeine forte, plus lyrica for nerve pain.  Of course it's better if you can do without, goes without saying.  One of my knees is so much better than the other.  Sleeping through the night was the worst to achieve.  If I don't have a pillow under my knees, even now, I don't sleep soundly.

    As ive said, very early days for you and you will probably come on in leaps and bounds.  You could very well be one of the success stories and will look back with wonder, how you managed to get through this.  Don't worry about what others say about where you should be at this stage.  Do what's best for you.  Good luck with everything.  Don't be like me, be positive.

    best wishes

    Sue xx

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    • Posted

      Thanks Sue. It's hard to be positive when the relentless pain and all the daily limitations take over, and add to that lack of sleep. Here it is midnight, and I'm icing and unable to fall asleep and this is after taking lorazepam sleep aid at 10 pm. Just took some ibuprofen as trying to cut down on the Oxycodone per Drs suggestion. It's great to have this forum for support. No one knows what we're going through unless they have had the TKR procedure themselves. I'm sure hoping that at some point this is forgotten history and the joy of having new knees takes over my life! ??

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  • Posted

    So sorry to hear that you are struggling!  I had left TKR on 21 January 2016 and my leg also had to be straightened. According to my surgeon and PT referred pain (pain in the foot and hip) starts in the lower back and is a result of the body adapting to the new structure and angle of the leg.  It is part of the process that we unfortunately have to work through. My PT treated my lower back and that helped with the referred pain.  I am going for right TKR on 11 August and am dreading the pain associated with the changes in the angle of the leg as that was far worse than the knee itself the first time around .  On a positive note though, it gets better with time smile  Look for and celebrate small achievements and gains and take it one day at a time. Hang in there and be kind to yourself as you have been through a lot! 

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the encouragement! It's a long healing process, and I have to remind myself what a MAJOR surgery I went through. Since I'm getting around fairly easily and have been for past few weeks, it's way too easy to overdo it. I'm limiting myself to two hours of running errands and being out and about per day now. When return home, I ice for 45 minutes. Wish I could figure out the sleep, as even with Lorazepan sleep aid as prescribed by dr I am waking up several times per night with pain. I'm seeing my Dr this week. Hope to get my questions answered, and will insist on continuing pain meds (5 mg Oxycodone 3 x per 24 hours) which he wants me to stop after 6 weeks!

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  • Posted

    How brave you were to do both knees at the same time!  I think the questions you have regarding how much is too much is the million dollar question. As cliché as it sounds only your body can tell you how much is too much.  My rule of thumb goes as such - I push til my knee says ouch and my overall sense of exhaustion.  I also judge by how long it takes to recover, if it takes more than double then I've pushed too hard. I totally appreciate your wanting to get out of the house to not go crazy, but it doesn't necessarily have to be for hours, sometimes all it takes is a five minute walk.  So appreciate your sharing, frustrating not to have the answers, but we do know it is one day at a time.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your excellent advice. I'm finally slowly realizing my limits after 6 weeks. You're absolutely right - it's a feeling of exhaustion along with the knee pain kicking in. I went out today, and barely made it back home. The shopping clerk was asking me if I was okay!? Too much after 1 hour of PT and 2 hours of errands. I'll be relaxing and icing for an hour now. Have plans to attend a lecture tonight. We'll see if I can make it!

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