Dealing with pain and depression after total knee replacement

Posted , 34 users are following.

Hi everyone!

i was so happy to find this discussion group! I am 3 weeks post op after a total knee replacement on my right knee. The depression has finally hit me. Never feeling pain free, not sleeping well at night, being dependent on someone else to get me to PT or grocery shop has really gotten me down. I'm not one to cry, but today the tears came pretty easy. I too have the burning that everyone here talks about. My physical therapist said that's the nerves that are healing. After doing my exercises I find it easier to walk with less of a limp, however it doesn't take long and my knee stiffens right up again. The hospital sent me home with this great ice machine so I'm not having to use ice packs like others have talked about. I just put 4 bottles of frozen water in this machine and then fill it with water up to the water line. Put the top back on and plug it in. It has tubing that runs from the machine to the pad that you strap to your leg with attached Velcro. The pad is shaped to form to your thigh right above the knee and the start of the calf right below the knee. This machine has been a blessing! Once the bottles thaw out, I exchange them with 4 frozen bottles from the freezer so I'm never without ice. The machine circulates that cold water constantly so you have and even amount going to your whole surgical area. Icing is great but sometimes I feel stiffer than if I don't use it at all. I'm taking Percocet for the pain and it helps to some degree but doesn't take all the pain away. I can't take codine, Vicodin or morphine because they make me so sick. But I'm wondering how all of you are dealing with the depression that comes along with all the pain? I'm a very independent person and not having any family that live close by makes me rely on one other person to run errands or take me to PT. I'm so tired of always sitting with my legs up or sleeping with a pillow between my knees so I can lay on my side at night. The lack of sleeping for more than an hour at night before the pain wakes me up and I get myself in another position to sleep is wearing on me. Can someone more than 3 weeks out of post op show me that there is light at the end of the tunnel?? So many people that I've talked to that had this done years ago say it's the best thing they've ever done. I'm certainly not feeling that way right now. If you asked me today if I'd do this again my answer would be absolutely not!!! But I'm sure weeks from now I'll feel totally different. Someone please tell me that I won't always regret doing this. I knew it was going to be a tough recovery, but I didn't realize that 3 weeks after surgery I'd still be feeling like this. I know I'm improving because I see the changes when I'm doing my exercises at home. Something that was so difficult a week and a half ago is much easier to do now. I guess I just want someone who's surgery is maybe 6 weeks out to say "it does get better, this is how it is fir me now". Something, anything positive. I'm happy I found this site and I pray I get a response to my posting. Good luck to all of you! I know we'll all make it through this tough process.

Sue (from Wisconsin)

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  • Posted

    Hi - I feel for you sad. I have been there with my TKR. One of the causes for me is my staunch independence and fear of asking for help.  Once I allowed myself to simply ask for what I needed especially from my husband all started to go better. being an invalid is a horrible experience and being in pain and sleep deprived makes it so much worse. No wonder we get down !! At three weeks you have had the worst of most of the issues and will be starting to move forward. I am at 3 months and starting to feel so much more positive. I decided to give myself over to the machine so to speak smile The recovery takes dedication and application - let yourself be lazy as much as you can. Eat well and drink lots of fluids. Save some pain meds for when you go to bed and ask for a sleeping tablet also. My anesithist swore by them to help the body rest. be regular in your exercise pattern and always use the ice as often as you can tolerate until the swelling goes. I also used anti inflammatory ex to help this and an arnica based cream to massage the leg as that really helped me. Be kind to yourself. All the best.

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    • Posted

      The quick responses have been awesome, thank you so much. And good luck to you too! I'm exactly 3 weeks post op today so I know I have a ways to go yet. It's got to get better eventually. I've already noticed the changes from when I started PT up until now, it's just that you want the pain to go away, the stiffness and seeking to go away and you want a good night's sleep. I know it'll come as the weeks go by, it's just right now it's tough. Thank you again for responding.

      Sue

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  • Posted

    Everything your feeling is normal. It sucks now, but each day is a bit better. I'm 5 weeks out now and sleeping a bit better. Less depressed. Prayers for continued healing.

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  • Posted

    It is pretty horrible, isn't it!  I'm pretty hopeful you will notice quite a change around the six week period. . nothing that spectacular, but things just begin to look less  horrible. sleep will probably be an ongoing problem for quite a while, as will pain, so whatever pain killers you can take, take them and don't try to cut down on them at this stage.  You need all the help you can get. I had tramadol and it was pretty good at keeping the pain at a fairly tolerable level.  I would say that for about the first ten weeks I  would have said, as you do, that I would never do this again, and that it had been the biggest mistake of my life. . .but like pretty well everybody else, in the end you look back at it and realise that the end result is worth it.  Well, I suppose we have an inbuilt ability to forget the bad things once they are over, and realise how much better we are.  I'm now nearly two years from the op, and just popped back to the forum to see how everyone was doing!  three weeks is just the beginning, honestly . . it is a long hard slog, and realising that what you are feeling is absolutely normal unfortunately in some ways helps to cope with it. All the best!

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for responding! The more responses I get the easier it is to deal with it. The last 3 weeks have really truly gone by fast, so I can only hope the next 3 weeks go by just as fast.
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  • Posted

    Dear Sue,

    You are feeling exactly what we all felt at 3 weeks out.  The constant pain, sleeplessness, depression, crying, leg feeling like a cement block......I could go on and on.  You will hear from others that will set your mind at ease.....you will get better as time goes on, but it just doesn't seem possible at this stage.  

    When I had my year check up, my dr. asked me if I was happy I had it done...and my answer was yes, now I am...if you had asked me at a month it would have been a resounding NO.  So, you'll progress ...believe it!  Just take one day at a time, do what you need to do: meds when needed, sleep or rest anytime you can, stool softeners every night (if needed)! ice machine after any activity - I had one of those and they work great, but are confining, diligent with the pt exercises.  Hang in there....it'll get better!

    Mary Ann

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    • Posted

      Thank you Mary Ann. I needed to hear that I guess. This us one tough journey, especially since I'm alone. It's very easy for depression to take over when you just feel so lost all the time. I'm going to try to think positive, but the feedback on here really helps. Thank you again!

      Sue

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  • Posted

    Hi Sue

    this is not a journey you can take alone i dont know your situation but if you have help there take it the depression will pass if you are normally active its the feeling of not being able to do the things you could keep taking the medication ice it often and keep your leg raised the days will soon turn into weeks as each one goes by you will get better i wish you all the luck in the world with your recovery.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Yes I'm completely alone except for the help of one friend who stayed with me after surgery for 4 days and now takes me to me appts and grocery shops for me. My daughter was up for 2 days shortly after surgery, but my kids all live two hours away and have careers and children of their own. This is a difficult journey, you're right. I guess I should say that I don't know where the last 3 weeks have gone, it's gone by fast. So I can only hope the next 3 weeks go by just as fast.

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    • Posted

      As you get through each stage the time goes faster. Initially it is so all encompassing and desperate the time drags by. As you can start to do more it helps on all fronts smile

       

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    • Posted

      So do I Sue. Its very early days for you. My TKR was almost a year to the day,but I somewhat know where you are coming from. I didnt tell my family because I know even if they could I would have got no help. I had one friend who took me in for the op,visited me in the hospital and then for my weeks rehab and brought me home. But something personal happened for that person and she could no longer give me help. The only help I got was what I paid for. Another friend visited me for a few days and I appreciated this. No practical help as he is disabled himself. 2 other so called friends came nowhere near until I was able to walk and drive myself. And I dont live in Wisconsin,I live in the UK. These 2 "friends" live respectively 5 miles and one mile away. The friend who helped/helps you is worth their weight in gold. Treasure that person. As said,its early doors Sue. I felt like you do but a year on I do not. My leg clicks all the time,I occasionally still get a boit of pain but I drive,walk,sleep well,fly,swim,go to the gym. AND SO WILL YOU. God bless.

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    • Posted

      Hi John, Happy Thanksgiving!

      thank you for your response. You are so right about the "one person" who takes time away from their busy life is worth their weight in gold. I don't know what I would have done without her. I drive city bus and she is just a passenger of mine. I've gotten to know her but I can't say we were friends. She came through for me, took me to surgery, stayed until my daughter and son inlaw could get to the hospital (they had some traveling to do to get here), and then brought me home and stayed with me. She's still helping me to this day, taking me to doctor apps, physical Therapy, grocery shopping for me. She's priceless. Ya know just days before my surgery I remember telling people that I couldn't wait for it to be over and about 2 weeks into recovery. Now I'm wishing I was 6 weeks into recovery because although I knew it would be hard, I didn't realize it would be this hard. Hearing positive things from so many people on this blog has lifted my spirits. Thank you for responding!

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    • Posted

      You are welcome Sue. I have an affinity with the place you come from by the way. The only place Ive been to in the US is Minnesota,next state to you. Great country,great people. Cheers

      John.

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