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Has anyone undergone a total knee replacement?

ducklingduckling Posts: 5
edited 12. Aug 2015, 16:50 in Living with Arthritis archive
Help! I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both knees at the age of 50. Having seen the MRIs and Xrays its bone on bone. Im having problems walking, going up and down stairs and anything to do with bending the knees. Have had extensive physio and both knees have been injected with hyaluronic acid which did not help. Am on a range of pain medication which is not working. Has anyone had a total knee replacement? if so, how long were you in hospital for & what were you able to do when you left hospital? Did you receive any help at home? (from Social Services)? What sort of things were problematic? Which aids were you using to help you walk?

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  • moderatormoderator Posts: 4,082 mod
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi
    Welcome to the forums. I am sure you will find support, advice, help and light relief.
    I am one the moderation team, we all have one or more arthritis conditions or look after family members with the same.
    If you need help with the technicalities of the forum just get in touch via a personal message.
    CK Moderator
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello duckling and welcome from me, too :) Yes, I've had both knees replaced. In fact, I've had a replacement replaced :roll: but only because it had worn out after 27 years. All my ops have been very successful.

    These days the hospital stay is not long. It varies from one hospital to another but is only a few days. You're usually up and walking the day after the op. They make sure, before discharging you, that you can walk, do steps and get out of a chair. Most people are discharged on crutches.

    The important things to do when you get home are the exercises which the physio usually shows you before you go in and will take you through while you're in hospital. Do them several times a day and rest and elevate your leg in between. Heroics are not called for :lol: There's a lot of healing has to happen.

    An Occupational Therapist will see you before you go home and either give or loan you items of equipment you might need eg a grabber stick, a raised toilet seat. I have a husband so needed no help but I think most people cope OK with a bit of forethought ie stock up the larder and freezer, get in some ready meals, maybe think in terms of ordering groceries online (You won't be able to drive for 6 weeks) and do accept any help offered by friends and neighbours.

    One of our forum members has just had his second knee replaced. You might find his thread useful. http://arthritiscareforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=44315 Also there's some useful info here from Arthritis Research UK. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/shop ... rgery.aspx

    I'm assuming you'll have the knees replaced separately though some surgeons are happy to do both together. My first two TKRs were done in April and June of 1981.

    Please ask away if you've any further questions.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • ducklingduckling Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi. Thank you for your reply. I am assuming that when one leaves hospital you can just about weight bare on the leg that has been operated on? Also that one can go up and down stairs on crutches? What about the practicalities like getting dressed? I have heard that hydrotherapy is good? Has anyone experienced this in recovery?
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Yes. As I said, walking usually the day after. (Possibly later on the day of the op.) You'll be shown how to do stairs on crutches.

    OT will give you a grabber stick, sock aid, anything you might need for getting dressed but I've always managed pretty well and I have RA in all my joints.

    Hydro is good for arthritis at any time. I think some hospitals still offer it post op but probably not many as it's quite expensive. You can but ask.

    By the way, I somehow managed to give you the wrong web address for ARUK's pages on TKRs. Try this http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/surgery/knee-replacement.aspx
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    In my years on here many have, and things have gone so well for them they don't come back to encourage those like yourself who are facing it. It is a daunting prospect but it can make all the difference to the quality of life. I am one of the 'lucky' ones who has done the arthritis double, I have an auto-immune kind and the joint damage from that has led to OA in my ankles and knees.

    The recovery is not an instant thing, it takes years for the joint to deteriorate to the point of replacement and recovery can take months. When you are in the middle of it all you cannot necessarily feel that you are getting somewhere but you will be. There's a recent thread by Barry2013 who had his second knee done earlier this year. I'll find it and bring it up for you, you may find it interesting reading. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • HelenbothkneesHelenbothknees Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    In my years on here many have, and things have gone so well for them they don't come back to encourage those like yourself who are facing it.

    A few, like me, drop back now and then to see if their experiences can be of any use to anyone.

    I had both knees replaced in the same operation almost exactly 3 years ago (8th July 2012). Best thing I ever did. I'd been in steadily worsening pain for years, taking stronger and stronger drugs which didn't really work, and doing less and less. Now I walk, swim, dance, do yoga and just live a normal life.

    To answer your specific questions...

    I was in hospital for about 4 days. When I left I could walk on crutches, and had been shown how to manage stairs etc. This is of course harder if you have both knees done together and have no really 'good' knee, but is still quite possible.

    Social Services came along before the op and checked that my bed was high enough; if not they can raise it. They also checked the chair I'd use, and gave me things to raise the height of both toilet seats. I didn't need any other help from them as my partner took over to do shopping, cooking etc. I had no problems with things like dressing and so on - though my knees were very swollen so skirts were necessary for a little while.

    I used two crutches to walk, though because I'd had both knees done together they also gave me a walking frame. I never used it; I didn't need to. After a week I pretty much abandoned the crutches in the house and held on to furniture, with the physiotherapist's blessing.

    For the first couple of days I didn't do much except the exercises I was given - very, very important to do these, even if you don't feel like it, and I think they were the reason for my extremely good recovery and very good knee bend in both knees. Apart from that I was very tired and I rested. I gradually did more, and although progress felt slow at the time, looking back it was actually very fast. The driving thing...you can't drive against your surgeon's advice or you'll invalidate your insurance, but as far as I can gather, without such advice one way or the other, it's up to you. I tried it after a month and felt fine, but my partner could drive me, so I played safe and didn't really drive much until about 6 weeks after the op.

    I had physio at the local hospital, but only for about 12 weeks (I think). After that I felt like I needed more, so I inquired at the local leisure centre, and they had a hydrotherapy class. It was run by a fitness instructor who'd herself had both knees replaced, and it was great. I kept it up until I felt it was a waste of time; then I started swimming regularly instead, and I still do this.

    By November that year (4 months post-op) I was recovered enough that we went on holiday to Madeira and I managed to negotiate Funchal's steep cobbled streets with no problems. However, recovery continued slowly for probably about two years, and sometimes I think I'm still improving.

    If you do a search you may find my posts from around that time - there were lots. If you can't be bothered, I published them with some additions as a Kindle ebook, so you're welcome to message me and I'll send you the link to it. Otherwise feel free to ask me anything you like about it; I consider myself the expert on TKRs! :D

    Good luck!

    Helen
  • GraceBGraceB Posts: 1,598
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi,

    I had a right partial knee replacement in 2009 and am now starting to prepare for a total knee replacement on my left knee.

    I can't really add to the advice you've already been given other than to regularly medicate as directed by your medical team when you are post op with pain killing meds whether or not you think you need them. You need to keep the pain at bay to ensure you can do the physio exercises and they are so vitally important.

    Make sure you have enough things to do post op such as dvd's to watch, books to read, that sort of thing as you certainly won't be up and about too much to start with.

    Write down any questions you have at the moment and ask them when you go for your pre-op appointment.

    Please keep posting on here - everyone is a wonderful help.

    Take care,
    GraceB
    Turn a negative into a positive!
  • CompositorCompositor Posts: 122
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi all,

    I had both Total Knee Replacements back in 2000/2001. The first one was in December just before Christmas, the second, six weeks later, the Consultant said he didn't want to do them together as it cut the posible risk of double infection...that he, nor I, wanted.

    SW has got it bang on with her advice and detail in her first reply. In my particular case, I was offered Hydropool help which helped me a great deal, I have had continual spinal problems since the 70s' so the Consultant wanted mobile as soon as possible, quite pleasingly, everything went ok.

    Now 14/15 years further on, both knees get quite sore if too much walking, standing and even sitting, but, the pain is no where near as intense as it was when the replacements were kneeded...sorry, couldn't resist it. Judging by some of our posters comments, recovery and mobility varies according to the individual, I always recommend keeping up the exercises as instructed by physio when given at the hospital prior to leaving. The follow up services after leaving were brilliant, again, I would think that differs from area to area. Good luck, I hope all goes well for you.

    John xx
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Compositor wrote:
    when the replacements were kneeded...sorry, couldn't resist it.

    :lol::lol::lol: Nice one, John.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • FionabeeFionabee Posts: 146
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Duckling
    I had my right knee replaced 18months ago, I was almost 53. I was discharged on my 3rd day, had to be able to go up & down stairs safely before discharge, this was not practised until I was in the discharge lounge waiting to go home (there was a small "prop" of 4 stairs & a landing in the room). I have a steep staircase with a twist in it and I managed it slowly but ok, husband was nearby but I didn't need him.
    Followed my exercise instruction sheet faithfully, the nurse who visited me at home a couple of times gave me a few more (standing) exercises to do, fortunately husband was around who quickly jotted these down as she didn't give me any printed details & by later that day I couldn't remember all of them. I had no more nursing/physio input after day 5 or 6 and did have a few wobbles over how much I should do, should my knee be as swollen, can I go to loo with 1 stick or should it ALWAYS be 2etc, but at about 5 weeks post op I turned a corner and things seemed to get easier & settle down.
    No problems dressing. Strip washes until clips came out. Then I realised what a high side our bath has (have to climb in to use shower) it was reassuring to have husband around for first few showers to help with getting in & out, but I could have managed alone. Always use a non slip mat in bath now & have a suction handle on wall.
    Very simple cooking for first few weeks, did as much prep sitting down as I could, have a tall stool which was useful. My husband was fantastic and did do a lot. Went to supermarket with him around 10 days post op, thinking I would be ok with a bit of help, but it was harder than I expected, could push trolley in straight lines when there wasn't much in it, but couldn't get it round corners, started realising how much pressure goes thru your knees doing lots of tasks.
    Went back to work in a library at 8wks with a phased return, on reflection it was a bit soon & in clinic at a follow up appt the nurse told me they recommend 12 weeks off, but I was back at work by then!
    If you live alone, you would be wise to plan & prepare before having surgery, meals in freezer etc, get bags of ice in (or I used frozen peas) for icing/elevating your knee. I'm not sure what is available in the way of "home help", do you have a neighbour who could help with a bit of shopping?
    My knee is good now, it makes a slightly creaky noise when I stretch it, but at my final appt the doctor said it was nothing to worry about. I don't kneel on it, have tried, but it was uncomfortable, and their advice was to avoid kneeling. I wonder how Helenbothknees & others who have had both knees done get on?? On holiday have been swimming more, doing a gentle breast stroke which is comfortable, alternate with back stroke, felt odd to start with, but better now.
    Hope this is useful.
    Good luck!
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Have we managed to help with your questions, duckling? I hope so. I think our experiences are all broadly similar with the slight regional variations that one would expect.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • lindalegslindalegs Posts: 5,369
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Duckling,

    I had both my TkRs at the same time when I was 42 in 2000. I had to have my right knee re-done (revision) in 2011 because it had come loose with wear.

    Before the operation I couldn't leave the house without being in a wheelchair, I now walk unaided ........apart from Mr Legs' arm when I need him.

    Straight after the operation I used a walking frame but found I couldn't use one at home on the carpets. I used elbow crutches for a short time but I tripped on them one night on the way to the bathroom :shock: and so considered myself safer without.

    Just as a warning to bear in mind that when they get you to your feet after the operation it does hurt ....not as awful as your knees do now but just be prepared. It is pain that gets easier each time you stand.

    As everyone's said the exercises are the key to getting the full range of movement from your new knee(s).

    Please do keep us posted.

    Luv,
    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'
  • HelenbothkneesHelenbothknees Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I don't kneel on it, have tried, but it was uncomfortable, and their advice was to avoid kneeling. I wonder how Helenbothknees & others who have had both knees done get on??

    I was told it was OK to kneel if I found it comfortable. I did, and I have no problem kneeling, though I doubt if I could do so for long periods.
  • lindalegslindalegs Posts: 5,369
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I don't kneel on it, have tried, but it was uncomfortable, and their advice was to avoid kneeling. I wonder how Helenbothknees & others who have had both knees done get on??

    I was told it was OK to kneel if I found it comfortable. I did, and I have no problem kneeling, though I doubt if I could do so for long periods.


    I don't kneel on mine it feels like you're kneeling on a thick piece of rope. It's not painful but it is uncomfortable. :|

    Luv,
    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Me neither, Legs, for exactly the same reason. Mind you, I only tried it a few times early on. I could get nether down nor up now :lol:
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • HelenbothkneesHelenbothknees Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Mine felt a bit like that in the early days. However, with both my knees having been replaced and having a multi-cat household, not kneeling would have been really hard when it came to changing litter trays etc. I bought a really well padded cushion and persevered - and this is one of those things which has got better over a very long time (years). I now really don't think about kneeling; I just do it. I suspect it was scar tissue which gradually broke down over a very long period, though I don't actually know that.
  • ducklingduckling Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello. Thank you so much for your replies. Have a couple more questions.
    Did anyone have hyaluronic injections ? If so, did they work? have any side effects? I've had synvic which did not work and they are now recommending durolane.
    I am having more and more problems going up and down stairs, bending, getting up from chairs. Am waiting for social services to come and see what adjustments are required for the flat. In the meantime I am stuck. What equipment was found useful to have in advance that you can order? such as grab stick ? Also having problems carrying shopping and I don't have any one to help. (can do online shopping but not for everything).
    How useful was physio in terms of keeping mobile prior to operation?
    Has anyone tried APOS (foot wear) therapy and did they find it useful?
    Thank you
  • lindalegslindalegs Posts: 5,369
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Duckling,

    I didn't have those injections, sorry can't help with that one.

    I did have physio before my TKRs and I think it helps with keeping your muscles going even if your joints are more or less shot.

    My OT provided me to a indoor trolley which I use all the time as I can't carry things. I even use it for taking the washing outside ....though that may not be an option for you unless your flat is on the ground floor. I don't know if you already have any equipment but OTs supply things like toilet/chair/bed raisers so it's easier for you to sit and stand.

    Hope this helps.

    Luv,
    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I've had steroid injections in my knees, that's all. Mostly they helped. I've no idea what hyaluronic, synvic and durolane mean.

    Going up and down stairs – good leg (if you have one :lol: ) up first and down last. Only make essential trips ie leave things to be taken up or down at the top or bottom of the stairs in a bag you can sling over your shoulder. Use the banisters with both hands.

    Bending – use a grabber stick. I haven't been able to reach below my knees for years but most things can be retrieved with one even if it takes ages.

    Chairs – for now, put an extra seat cushion on your chair even if it means removing one from another chair. Your need is greater. OT will advise for post op.

    Shopping – I have a husband who takes me to and round the supermarket every week but I'm struggling to think of things one can't buy online these days. Can you give examples?

    Physio is essential. Not just for keeping mobile before the op but for keeping the muscles in good trim in readiness for after.

    I have to wear surgical shoes. My impression of APOS therapy is that it's OK for those with not much wrong with them. Perhaps I'm being unfair but I can't imagine it would help someone requiring a TKR. Just use good supporting shoes eg trainers. Cheaper and probably at least as effective.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • ducklingduckling Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello. Thank you for your replies and suggestions. I am currently waiting to be assessed by Social Services from my Borough, in terms of what needs to be adjusted in the flat and there is a waiting list. I do not have an O/t, think they come into the picture once one has had an operation?
    I have ordered a grab stick and walking stick, but am unsure what to do about bath handles - I have booklets from disability suppliers with lots of products, but am unsure exactly where to fit any handles. (I don't have a shower). Any ideas on handles or should I go for a bath swivel seat (bench), not quite sure what it is called?
    Thank you for the idea on cushions. The trolley sounds a great idea. Is it a good idea to get a sock aid to help put on socks etc?

    Thank you
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm sorry, I can't help with the bath. As I have RA everywhere I have a bath lift. I can't even remember how soon one can have a bath despite having had 3 TKRs :oops:

    These might help, from NHS Choices and Arthritis Research UK.

    http://tinyurl.com/prsuo22

    http://tinyurl.com/pr5fkba
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • lindalegslindalegs Posts: 5,369
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    If you have a reasonable grip and fair dexterity in your fingers you should be okay for a sock/tight aid. I had one which my OT, at that time, made loops on the straps so I could pull up socks/tights with my forearms. I couldn't use it now because I couldn't feed socks/tights onto it in the first place and there is an art in pulling them up. You will probably be okay though with practice. These days if I hadn't got Mr Legs I would either get cold feet or have to have a friend put my footwear on! :shock:

    Regarding the bath you might be better managing with a bath board. I just shower these days but I have had a bath board in the past.

    I would suggest that you try not buy too much till Social Services have assessed you because they will supply a lot of the equipment free. The downside with buying is that you might find you don't get on with the equipment and then it's a waste of your money.

    Luv,
    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'
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