Unprepared for pain, unable to sleep, stiffness etc post op knee replacement

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Hi, I'm 5 weeks post op for right knee replacement and it feels like it's been a roller coaster. I'd been told to expect pain but managed with codeine for the first couple of weeks. Quickly managed without crutches and leg seemed to be bending ok. Pretty op it was knock kneed and I had expected it to come out straight so that was the first disappointment. I'm now 5 weeks post op and the pain if anything seems to be worse especially at night. Seem to be on a plateau and feeling quite despondent. Maybe my expectations were too high or my surgeon didn't prepare me enough of what to expect, I think the latter. I get a burning pain on the inside of my knee which stops me sleeping and a dull ache during the day. I'm very stiff on getting up and can hardly walk and almost as bad after sitting in a chair for 30 mins. Everyone says how well I'm doing so it seems churlish to say I'm actually quite miserable and feeling on the edge of being depressed. Am I expecting too much too soon, can anyone please tell me their experience if similar. Thanks Maggie.

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Read the TKR forum all normal hot baths, ice ice and more ice, Elevation.

    If you are lucky pain will slowly go down between 6 weeks and 18 months.

    For myself it was 12 weeks.

    Good healing

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  • Posted

    Unprepared?  Doc never told you all this was going to happen?  Really?  I'm perplexed.  Wait...  Oh, you're talking about THIS universe.  Sorry, I forgot.  Read all about it...


    You're TOTALLY NORMAL!!!!!!!  Welcome to the club.  PS: There's no secret handshake...


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    • Posted

      Thanks so much aka Chico, for your humour, positive attitude, good sense and valuable advice! It's made all the difference to me and I feel so much better now I have a plan! ......and I'm Normal......most of the time!

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    • Posted

      Remember...  A "plan" is fine..."expectations" are not.  You will be better when you're better.  Period.  Be prepared for advances, setbacks and plateaus (the worst...feel like you're getting nowhere).  Just have to do the work and break through the barriers.  You'll be fine.

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  • Posted

    Maggie, sorry you were not prepared for this major operation.  Remember they cut bone, muscle, nerves...etc.  you are early in recovery stages.  The depression and pain at night is normal.  I remember I was lucky to sleep 2 hours at most.  Stiffness is very normal.  Make sure when sitting you elevate your leg.  Be sure to exercise several times per day and then immediately, ice, rest and elevate.  Drink lots of water...hydration is important.  Sleep when you can.  Be sure to rest, ice and elevate 2 X daily for an hour...this is over and above after exercising.  You are healing.

    i am now 11 months post tkr and it does get better.  Listen to your body...do what it tells you.  I remember being miserable...and crying a lot early on.  Chin up...it will be worth it.

    good luck,


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  • Posted

    ditto to all that and remember to read Chico's blog,he's a good kid devoting his time for our well being.

    im relatively new here,but quickly realised I was in the company of fellow sufferers and we can't all be wrong. It's just a hellish experience. Hope we all come out the other side ok.


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    • Posted

      Well you're still younger than me.

      you took up ice hockey at 14 .

       Sounds to me like you would have had an excellent career in health care.

      good luck with the up and coming. Let us know how you're doing young man

      best rgrds. Mike


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  • Posted

    Hi Maggie

    I'm seven weeks post op and two weeks ago I was exactly where you are now. I was so sleep deprived I was holding my wife and crying and I can't remember the last time I cried (other than every time I hear "The Way We Were"wink.

    It has got way better for me since then. I finally started sleeping more--maybe 5 or 6 hours instead of the 2 it had been for more than a month. I also went back to my job teaching high school. That is exhausting and some would say it was too soon but I think I needed to get physically exhausted to sleep,plus being with the kids raises my spirits. I know I'll still have bad days--my knee is aching tonight after PT--but I can see the light at the end of the therapy table.

    BTW, I don't take anything during the day but I found that to sleep I need to take a 5 mg vicodin. It wears off after four or five hours but at least I get that. I also take melatonin to nod off fast. Sleep is everything in this battle.

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  • Posted

    Hello Maggie, the symptoms you have are identical to mine.  I am 4weeks post op on my right knee and the burning pain has stopped me sleeping which in turn is causing depression.  I have worked hard at the physio and they are pleased with my progress but the depression is getting to me so hoping my GP can help.  Perhaps we are expecting too much too soon but it does appear the symptoms we have are "normal".  Best wishes, Lynda

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    • Posted

       Hi Lynda,

      Yes I think you're right, we are expecting too much too soon. I;ve decided I just have to take things a bit more slowly and be more patient. I;ve gone back to taking codeine at night and that's helping the pain and I'm already sleeping better. Have so appreciated all the support from folk on this web site, thanks to everyone. Cheers Maggie

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  • Posted

    Hi Maggie, you are absolutely right! The surgeons never give

    you even a hint Of what's to come after the op! This is a brutal

    operation and recovery Can be brutal too! Some sail through

    easily, others just manage, some really struggle!

    We are all different, our rehab & recovery are different.

    You will get through this! You may not ever laugh about it but

    you'll get through it.

    I can assure you, you are not alone (although you feel it at 3am

    when Everyone else is tucked up in bed asleep.) Pain, sleepless

    nights, depression, All go hand in hand with this op!

    Listen to what people say on here, there is a lot of wisdom


    Go back to what Chico & OFG have written, they are very


    One day when you realise that you've slept hours, or there is no

    pain, You will be glad you had the op. When you're walking

    easily, no pain, No limping.

    Unfortunately for the here & now it is not good.

    Keep the faith , as Bon Jovi sang, keep your chin up, it will pass.

    Good luck & healing.

    All the best



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    • Posted

      Thanks Marilyn, your words have helped a lot. Now know it's a harder road than the doctor's made out! but feel more prepared to deal with it. 

      I live in NZ but it seems it's the same experience here as in UK.

      I will get there. just gonna take a bit longer than I expected!

      Cheers maggie

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  • Posted

    Hi Maggie.Dont despair,i'm 12 weeks post op,and every thing you have described I went through.True you do feel so alone and this is where I found this support group a great help.I still feel a complete cripple when getting out of  chair and first walking,but i'm assured by others further on from us that this is completely normal.I think we have to carry on doing our exersises,and I think we will get there in the end,everyone says it takes a good year.Hang on in there ,and best wishes.

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