Pain, stiffness after TKR

Posted , 15 users are following.


I have been following this wonderful forum since I had my first TKR just 12 days ago. I am 71 years old and in pretty good health.  Many of my questions are the same as those already asked, which has helped.  But after doing everything I've been told to do I feel a bit like I'm not where I should be at this stage.  I know I'm in the early stages, but it is hard not knowing what to expect.

The first 4-5 days were so hard, I did as many of the exercises as I could, but all I wanted to do was rest.  These past 6 days I've tried to do more, but I am just so exhausted, stiff and sore.  I'm on Percocet 1 every 6 hours, I was on 1 every 4 hours, but, as many of you know, caused constipation.  Sleep deprivation is a constant and I'm afraid a bit of depression is affecting me.  I know I am early in my recuperation, but how did all of you handle the stresses of this difficult surgery?

I see my surgeon next week for my first visit since my surgery and I start OP physical therapy also.  The only PT I've been doing is what they gave me on my hospital instruction manual, which basically was pictures with how many times I was suppose to do them.

I thank the Lord everyday that I have a wonderful husband that has been so helpful and encouraging.  It's just that this is so new and I just don't know what to expect.

I would appreciate any wisdom that you could share with me to help me get through this.


3 likes, 50 replies

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50 Replies

  • Posted

    It's only 12 days since your TKR , please don't compare your progress with the progress of others . We all recover differently , possibly one of the worst things you can do is comparing your progress with that of others . Do your physio and exercise as often as possible , but don't over do it , take your pain medication regularly to control the pain . You will get there in the end , recovery takes as long as it does , be patient and don't try to hurry it .  

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  • Posted

    Hi and welcome. Don't expect much. You won't be disappointed. You've been surgically altered. Your body will probably take 6-18 me months to heal. Research on YouTube for great exercise examples. See a physiotherapist regularly. When you can, start walking around a park on soft grass or in a heated pool. Read here, trust yourself to understand there are few answers, only questions. We are many who have been through this awful but necessary surgery and most have great results. Be patient. Stop expecting. Stop worrying. x

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  • Posted

    Hi cherry and welcome to the joys of a tkr !!!At twelve days it can all be so overwhelming but as you have stated, reading the progress that others have posted, you had a bit of an idea what to expect. Now its time for your journey-and thats exactly what it is-your journey!! It cant be emphasised enough. There will be many obstacles in the coming weeks (and months)-some will just arise from the blue, little things that will have you questioning whether your doing things the right way-things so simple such as- should I walk that far or should I use that particular cream to massage or how do I get through the tiredness??????? The list goes on....but be assured, its part of the journey and we are all here to help out with ideas of how as individuals we found ways to cope.

    That extreme fatigue is very normal. Now, more than ever, you need to heed what your body is telling you-rest, rest and more rest. Eat a well balanced diet loaded with protein to assist the healing process, hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more. Grab every bit of shut eye-at first the eight hours you were used to will fly out the window but in time, usually around six weeks, it will begin to settle back to some form of normalcy. This recovery requires a good mental outlook. When your feeling down, do something you enjoy-coffee with a friend works a treat and helps you to focus elsewhere. Some lighthearted reading, watch a good comedy ( you will become besties with the remote these first weeks lol) eat chocolate!!!!! whatever it takes and if all else fails, a good cry never hurt anyone. Now is the time to be gentle with yourself cherry. Hang in there-it WILL get better-happier days are ahead.

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    • Posted

      Dear Sue,

      Thank you for your reply, enjoy all especially the advise about chocolate....sending the husband out for some today!  I feel encouraged after reading so many wonderful replies from people who took the time to care.  Hopefully, months down the road, I can do the same.


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    • Posted

      I cannot remember if you are in UK Sue, but i have been splitting my sides watching the BBC series "Quacks" set in the Victorian times and featuring surgery! Gracious, very glad for modern healthcare! 😀😁😃 not for the sqeemish though!

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  • Posted

    "I know I'm in the early stages, but it is hard not knowing what to expect."  Want to know what to expect?  Remember the movie Rocky III with Sylvester Stallone and Mr. T as Clubber Lang????

    Interviewer: What's your prediction for the fight? 

    Clubber Lang: My prediction? 

    Interviewer: Yes, your prediction. 

    [ Clubber looks into camera ] 

    Clubber Lang: Pain!

    That about sums it up.  And the depression...and stiffness...and sleep deprivation...and exhaustion...  Want me to keep going????  Welcome to the club, Kneebie...and it's all brutally normal...

    Start with this one...

    Make sure you read the section on Post-Op Depression...most people get it...just a Jedi Mind Trick!!!  After that, click on my picture or name and then click "See All Discussions".  Lots of posts out there about sleep, meds, PT, exercising, stairs and more.  Enjoy.  You'll have plenty of time...this recovery takes a year. I 17 months P/O, I know... 


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    • Posted

      hi Chico,

      17 months! Wow, no doubt you've been there, done that and more!!  Got the reading assignment on my 'to do' list today....right after my icing, elevating, meds, well, you know the routinewink. Thank you so much for an info filled reply, guess it's good to know I'm normal.  Blessings

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  • Posted

    Hi Cherry!😄

    I think for me having a positive outlook, finding things that made me LAUGH, naps, and writing in my journal all helped me to look on the bright side--MY THROBBING, GRINDING PAIN WAS GONE!😁 Of course there was the incision, the swelling, the learning how to walk again using a walker and then a cane and challenges of getting those new knees to BEND!🤔

    I prayed a lot, too. I put my worries in God's hands, and my surgeon and I talked about the experience from HIS perspective. He said he ALWAYS makes prayer a big part of every preparation he makes for surgery. I shared a painting I found of a surgeon operating on his patient with Jesus standing behind the surgeon and His hand guiding the surgeon's hand. My surgeon looked at the painting and said, "Yeah, it feels JUST LIKE THAT."

    I did a lot of walking around the house with my walker and with my cane. I tried to get up from the chair or couch every hour and MOVE. I did a lot of stretching to ward off stiffness. I still walk a lot and stretch a lot.

    I took my temperature a couple times a day and also took my blood pressure to make sure I had no fever and no issue with my blood pressure. I was VERY GLAD to be done with giving myself my blood thinner shots after two weeks. I quit the Oxycodone ( Knee #1) and Hydrocodone (Knee #2) after those two weeks and went back to just Ibuprofen about every six hours. The Ibuprofen did SO MUCH BETTER to help with swelling than anything else!

    Be patient with yourself!

    Your body has gone through a great trauma! It will be fine IN ITS OWN TIME.

    Wishing you much success in your recovery and sending prayers of patience, calm, and strength tonight!??

    (TKRs June and October 2015)

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    • Posted

      Greetings Chery

      I guess patience has never been my best virtue, but after reading all of the wonderful replies I received this morning, it's something I need to work on😊

      After reading your reply, I can see my journey will not be one of a kind, you certainly had a ton on your plate as have all the other wonderful people.  I can see a difficult journey ahead, but one that I know I won't travel alone.

      Thank you and many blessings,


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  • Posted

    Hi Cherry,

    ?I endorse all that's been said by others.

    I had a partial knee replacement on 6 Nov 2015 (aged 71). Best thing ever. The recovery - well, the worst thing ever.

    No pain, no gain.

    ?I was operated on here in UK as an NHS patient in a private hospital. I was in hospital for 3 days (hospital policy) and before they discharged me I had to get a 90 degree bend in my operated knee, (again hospital policy). The only PT I had was during those 3 days in hospital. Once home I did all my PT exercises 5 times a day (as per my NHS booklet) - without fail - and kept my pain relief going 24/7 in order to cope with the pain.

    ?Now here is the rub ...... in my opinion the evil you have to be aware of is scar tissue forming inside the knee. If that happens your ability to carry out your PT will greatly diminish and with it your recovery will be slowed up.

    I was fortunate enough to have 'stitches' which were the dissolving staple type. I had my dressing removed on 19 November 2015 at which time I was checked out for any infection. All clear. I then consulted my sports injury massage therapist and got her to work on deep massage of the incision line and surrounding area. 

    ?The purpose of this was to prevent scar tissue forming and I carried this on for some 6 weeks. I supplemented my therapists treatment by doing it at home to - in addition to my exercises.

    ?24 November I had my first PT review back at hospital and my first Consultant review on 29 December. At that point I was given the OK to come off my crutches (by which time I was only using 1) and given the OK to drive again. On 26 January I returned to work driving buses. Never looked back since.

    Sure, it was a partial compared to a total knee job, so it was a bit easier in some respects BUT it doesn't alter the fact that you have to be mindful of scar tissue forming inside the knee.

    Remember - you have been butchered !

    ?But also do not loose sight of the fact that - as others have said - we all heal at our own rate. But we can nevertheless help ourselves on the journey.

    May the force be with you.



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    • Posted

      Hello John,

      Your journey, whether partial or full, was quite intense, but you really took the bull by the horns!!  You were so regimented in your recovery, something I'm going to try to follow.  It is obvious your tenacity has paid off👍🏻

      After reading all of the wonderful and caring replies I received, just a few hours after my entry, I feel so much better.  I know now, I have a place to go to receive support and answers to this painful situation.  Knowing so many others have been successful in their recovery, despite all the complications and pain, gives me so much hope!

      Thank you, John. 



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    • Posted

      Hi John

      ?We have "spoken" previously when you were kind enough to share your experience of a partial knee replacement. Well I'm here again! I am almost 9 weeks past surgery and although there have been many ups and downs, the last week I have been doing great, I even managed to sleep in one chunk for 5 hours for the first time 4 months. I have walked almost a mile several times this week and been easily able to do my exercises even putting a weight on my ankles.

      ?Today for no apparent reason my knee hurts a lot, I still did my exercises and soldiered on and tried a walk but after about quarter of a mile had to stop as the new joint was throbbing. Did you have days like this? It is the second time its happened the first being at about week 4/5 and it took a lot to get that movement back. As I have got much stronger and times has passed I wasn't expecting a relapse. Yesterday wasn't a strenuous day either so I cant pinpoint the problem.

      ?Just looking for hope that it isn't one step forward and two back (excuse he pun) and wondered if anyone else has/had the same problem. It is very disheartening. I think I will call today Sob Sunday as that is what i've been doing.

      Thanks John hope things are still going great for you.

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    • Posted

      Hi tricia,

      Nice to hear from you although sorry you are feeling, er .... unsettled.

      Well yes - 9 weeks, always ups and downs. normal.

      Nice sleep is a very good sign. I think I was at about the same time in terms of sleeping well.

      ?I think it is important to try and be logical ....  mind over heart ! I can't remember which part of the knee you had done. Mine was the medial compartment. So, you have just had butchery and it falls into two basic compartments, they have chopped a lump of bone away and put in its place a spare part - say, maybe, plastic and some precious metal. The next is to shift the knee cap, slice through the various tissues in order to do the job. Butchery ! Try and identify the bit that troubles you, the chopped away bone and implant or the tissue slicing.

      ?I didn't do any serious walking until about 9 weeks and being in Cornwall I took on the challenge of the South West Coastal Path with all its gradients and rugged, uneven pathways. Yes, it did bloody hurt but I kept on BUT I did go back time and time again to resting, elevating and icing. Don't ever forget this - it is part of your armoury. When in doubt, rest, elevate and ice.

      ?You say the new joint was throbbing ........ can you pinpoint the exact source of the pain. Exact! If it is coming from the implant then get in touch with your surgeon. If it is coming from tissue/knee cap areas I would suggest you've over done it.

      ?The thing with this type of butchery is always expect the unexpected. Right up to month 3 post op I used my 'special' chair in my lounge, and at times even now still do occasionally. As I have carpets I bought an Ortho glide (Amazon) to do some exercises for bends.

      ?I am now 1year 9 months post op. I am fine, BUT, I still have a stiffness, a tight band, half way round the front of the knee joint, beneath the knee cap, some days its OK others it is uncomfortable. For me the big disappointment is that I can feel in my knee a change in the weather. It might be warm and sunny yet I can feel the discomfort/pain associated with an oncoming change in the weather from warm, sunny and dry to wet and humid and damp. This is disappointing as it suggests that at a future point in time the osteoarthritis will return.

      My view is that the whole recovery process is a marathon, 1 to 2 years. Expect set backs. Even today I still do stretches and bends, as time goes on I find stretching more beneficial than bending.

      I hope this has been of some help to you, anymore questions, ask away.

      May the force be with you.


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    • Posted

      Thanks John yet again. 

      I had the same operation as you, medial compartment right knee.  

      Pin pointing the exact pain I would say is certainly the new joint or at least that side. The scar has healed well and there is no pain from it. I have just told the surgeon last week that I am doing fine with little or no pain when resting and asked that he discharge me - how ridiculous and presumptions was that!  When being sensible I do find it difficult to believe there is anything wrong with the new joint otherwise I wouldn't be able to swim, walk and do so many other things. (If a little slowly and precariously).  I am at a loss to know why this 'flare up 'has occurred. I just hope that my recovery gains momentum again soon.

      once again thanks for the ear. It helps.

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    • Posted

      Hi tricia,

      ?I've been thinking more about your various comments and quizzed my partner if she can remember me complaining about my knee 'playing up' over the last year or so. She said, oh! yes, many a time, particularly in the first 12 months .... as time has gone on these incidents have occurred less and less. She reminded me that I just rested and elevated the leg and iced it, ice, ice and more ice - particularly in the evening, but during the day too if it was needed.

      So, with my memory appropriately jogged I would say unless you have any aggressive swelling, redness or the incision area really heated up then it'd be an unfortunate part of the healing process. Actually, I can now do everything I used to do before - EXCEPT - kneel.

      ?Kneeling and therefore putting pressure on my operated leg knee cap is bloody painful. But, when using my operated leg in a normal way there is no trouble from the knee cap. Not that I spend a lot of time kneeling, but sometimes one drops things and they disappear from sight under furniture and one goes to retrieve  - whatever.

      ?The other thing that comes to mind which I now take for granted. Sleeping - I generally do not have good sleep patterns and my preference is to sleep on my left side. If you can imagine then that my right (operated knee) is lying on top of my left leg/knee and there is pressure directly on the implant and it hurts. I get a small cushion and place it under the operated knee. Takes all the pressure away. Other times I go to sleep on my tummy, so then the operated knee is face down (kneecap down) onto the sheets. This can also generate significant discomfort and when I choose to sleep like this I again get the small cushion and place it under the operated knee but just above the kneecap. I find it very comfortable and it seems to enable the operated leg/knee to stretch and relax. Try it when you have time and hopefully you'll see what I mean.

      No doubt that nowadays, after all this time I find stretching the leg a massive help. I don't need to bend at all - but stretching is very calming and relaxing.

      Hope all this mumbo jumbo helps. Let me go, you'll be fine. Up and bouncing around playing tennis again in no


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    • Posted

      sorry about the predictive text dunno where ............let me go came from. Oh yes - I think I was writing let me know ............. 
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    • Posted

      Thank you John.

      still very very sore this morning when walking. I look like Jake the leg!

      I am still hoping that a few days will once again make all the difference. I am going on holiday in two weeks!!! Will be spendings lot of time in cafes and bars instead of sightseeing at this rate.

      Will let you know

      Billy Jean King

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