Patient Comments: Total Knee Replacement - Exercises and Physical Therapy

Question:

Please share your experience with exercises and physical therapy following a total knee replacement surgery. Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Allen64, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 24

I had my total knee replacement end of February 2020, but was denied physiotherapy due to COVID-19 pandemic and had to do it myself. Not ideal, but I tried. I can straighten my leg but it doesn’t quite get to 90 degree bend. I can climb stairs but coming down is a no-no. I returned to work after 3 months, on light duties, but now I am on full time and as a postman walking 12 miles a day. Not sure if it is ideal but it still aches and sometimes I walk with a limp. Looking for ideas and tips to improve my walking pain free.

Comment from: Sheryl, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

I had my total knee replacement on 3/4/2020. I went to one week (two sessions) of physiotherapy (PT), then we self-isolated with everyone else. I continued doing my own PT morning and afternoon, seven days a week. At the two week checkup, the physician’s assistant said I was ahead of healing and my range of motion was on schedule. He added an exercise and I have continued twice per day, seven days a week. I have the six week checkup 4/16. Can’t wait to hear what the surgeon says. My experience has been positive. Glad I had the replacement and my husband agrees.

Comment from: Bob , 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: December 31

I had total knee replacement of my right knee 3 years ago. I went to the physiotherapist afterwards and followed the doctor’s and therapist’s instructions. For 2.5 years I had no pain, but my knee remained stiff, never regaining range of motion. A few months ago I began having moderate pain, but more than I expected. I still can’t go down stairs normally and the knee is definitely not as strong as it should be. Recently, I started physiotherapy again. Wonder if there is anyone else with similar experience.

Comment from: Bill, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: December 18

I’ve had both my knees replaced, the right one in 2012 and the left one in April 2016. Best decisions I have ever made when considering my health. In both cases, the rehabilitation period post operations were easy as I did exhaustive rehab prior to both operations. In fact, my left knee replacement was unbelievable because it was done at 8 am and I walked out of the hospital at 2 pm the same day without any assistance from a walker, crutches or a cane and was able to climb stairs. Back to playing tennis in 6 weeks.

Comment from: Serene , 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 26

I feel compassion for many of the commenters but maybe fewer people write who have good outcomes. At 6 weeks post right total knee replacement I am pleased that my new knee is more stable and nearly as strong as the one it replaced. I take only Tylenol for aches at night and 100 mg gabapentin for nerve pain also at night. Flexion is at 120, and I am still working hard on extension at 5 to 7, walking nearly a mile unassisted. Best wishes to all!

Comment from: Don, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: January 20

I had bilateral knee replacement in July 2019. I had heavy nausea from an old case of vertigo I had forgotten about. I worked hard prior to my surgery cycling flat sidewalks. I had very good physical therapists and range of motion was good early with their help. Still icing more for stiffness and healing. Stairs are now the most challengingly but doable. Vertigo equaled many falls and a broken arm and loss of weight (40 plus pounds). Before surgery I had pain sleeping and now none. I am walking unassisted outdoors and feel great.

Comment from: Flsungirl63 , 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 17

I am 4 days post operation after outpatient total knee replacement. I was extremely impressed with the procedure. I have been able to walk comfortably and did exercises prior to surgery to strengthen hip, knee, calf muscles, etc. My difficulty is after the physical therapist leaves I’m physically unable to do much of anything due to pain. I have shin splint like pain, my right hip is unbearable, and my right foot loses feeling. It takes 2 days to recover. I’m good up till after physical therapy.

Comment from: Pat, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: June 27

I am five weeks post operation for right knee replacement and awaiting physiotherapy classes to begin. Physiotherapist’s recommendation was to move the joint more, which by day goes well. From midnight I sleep till about 5 am and from then on I am getting severe cramps in the leg. My left knee was replaced 6 years ago and I don’t remember that happening then, and it’s been great. Any advice welcome! I am sleep deprived. By day I am reasonably active, walking with two sticks outside and one or none in the house. I’m keen to get back to normal.

Comment from: Rob, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 27

I had both knees replaced at once on Friday 9th February, 2018. I walked and went up and down stairs on Saturday evening; again on Sunday. I went home Monday with no walking aids. The first week was painful but I was self-sufficient. Week two I could walk to the shop so no more deliveries. Week three I could walk half an hour freely, rest and walk back again and I stopped painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. I can now do all I need, drive, shop, use the tube [I live in London] and swim. I have never used a stick, frame or crutches other than in hospital. My therapist says I am 1 in 1000. I put it down to being fit all my life, no extra weight and swimming to keep fit as I could not walk far or run. Also, my surgeon says I have a high tolerance of pain.

SLIDESHOW

OA Knee Replacement: Before and After See Slideshow
Comment from: Lone parent 2 kids , 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 13

I had bilateral total knee replacement 19/12/2018. Now 12/03/2018, after a grueling painful first 2 months now 11 weeks post operation. Pain management planning went wrong and the dreaded drugs and pain sent me into a spin. On 19/2/2018 I started swimming with a small buoyancy device between my legs (thighs), 4 days a week, 40 laps in a 25 M pool, 10 laps are without the device. Weight loss after three weeks 4 kilos (114Kg to 110 Kg). Pain is becoming less and distress is lessened. Psychologically the operation and recovery has gone from debilitating to ability to heal. I lowered dosage to Panadeine Forte, mild sleep pills. Ten weeks past, range of motion is restricted but ability is improving now. Aim is now at surfing.

Comment from: Mark, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 12

I am a 55 year old male. I had my total knee replacement approximately 3 years ago. I went through the normal pains of recovery but I exercised a lot in a pool and I am very happy with my results. I was back on the tennis courts in about 6 to 7 months with light doubles hitting. I now play 2 or 3 times a week. I have noticed some slight discomfort on the kneecap. Sometimes it bothers me more when the weather is cold.

Comment from: Tony C, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: August 10

Right after my right knee replacement, they got me up with brace and walker to slowly start walking. They then had a CPM machine to start bending my range of motion, 6 hours a day. I then went to a rehabilitation hospital for 11 days of therapy which includes knee bending and straightening exercise. While they are painful, they are necessary to reach zero degrees straight and 130 flexing. I left rehab at 110 flexing. Outpatient therapy and self/home therapy got me to 135 flexing. The right knee is pain free. I did my left knee replacement and 20 days later it is good, still swollen and painful, but am progressing with the CPM machine, strengthening, straightening and flexing exercises.

Comment from: granny62, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 27

I had my total knee replacement on March 17, 2016. I am now almost 6 weeks out. I was doing very well the first 3 weeks while at home with my in-home physiotherapy (PT). I started hospital PT on April 12, 2016. The nightmare started that day. Prior to that day I had a bend of 102 degrees and almost straight. The therapist I was given told me to get on a bike and ride it for 15 minutes and make full rotations. I tried but the pain was unbearable. I actually only made it around backwards once. Since that day I have had swelling to the point I think my skin is going to burst. I ice and ice some more. Nothing works to take the swelling down. When I said something to him, he actually blamed me for overworking my knee! I no longer see him but I am unable to do very much because the swelling is so bad. I am getting so depressed and wish I never had this done. I still go to PT 3 times a week but have lost my range down to only 90 degrees. I am losing ground every day. The more I try the more pain I am in. I will never do the other knee which is starting to go bad. The pain I was in prior to surgery was very bad, but this is worse by far.

Comment from: DOT, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

After being diagnosed with osteonecrosis I had a total knee replacement on 19th January 2016. I am getting so frustrated because I can't bend my knee. I do my physiotherapy regularly and also walk for 40 minutes daily. I am in so much pain after exercises that the next day I am suffering. I had a mishap at physical therapy 7 weeks after operation. I was in tears because I could not get the pedals round. After rocking back and forward the pedals were forced round and my knee bent and caused me excruciating pain. My knee swelled so much more than it had been and looked like a massive blister with the skin so thin that it looked about to burst. Physiotherapist told me not to exercise for two weeks and I am sure I did some damage. I feel like I am fighting against the tide, exercising and getting nowhere. I cannot see how you can get your knee to bend if it is very swollen and tight. I am due to see my surgeon in 3 weeks and terrified that he will suggest a manipulation under anesthesia. I can't understand why I am not improving when I do everything physiotherapist tells me; ice, exercise, ice, elevation and more ice. Twelve weeks after operation I am in so much pain that I fear I will have a permanent limp. Exercising just makes more pain and I am in agony the next day I am unable to exercise. I am at my wits’ end.

Comment from: Carlos, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: January 20

My physical therapy (PT) began in the hospital the afternoon of the surgery for total knee replacement, where they have a small PT facility. Two days later I was at home and the PT person arrived every couple days for the next two weeks. Then I went to the PT clinic two minutes from my house for the next seven weeks. The PT folks stressed flexibility for the first four weeks, over strength building. So I had to bend the knee a lot, like it or not. Surgery was 11/23/15 and now, on 1/17/16 I'm at 121 degrees of flex and virtually no pain, except after about six hours in bed, when I can relieve pain with a pillow under the knee or a couple of Tylenol. I've used virtually every machine in the PT clinic, from elliptical to reclining bike but they have deliberately avoided the treadmill. Also I have returned to the gym between PT appointments and use all of the same equipment as before the surgery except at lower settings. I'd rather take time and build up slowly to where I was prior to surgery rather than risk any injury by pushing too fast. I've seen the doctor twice and he says all looks good. This is the second knee of mine he has replaced and this one was much less painful than the first. Unlike with the first he now has a procedure where they inject painkiller all around the knee, carefully finding the nerves with ultrasound. They showed me what they were going to do. I was knocked out when they did it. I especially appreciated that I could take a lot less of the opioid pain killers this time, since I hate the way they scramble your brains. They also stressed icing the knee three or four times a day to reduce swelling, since swelling reduces flexibility. I have an ice water machine that circulates the cold water in a cuff that's velcroed around the knee but when that's inconvenient I just use ice packs from the freezer, similar to those that they use at the PT clinic. You also have to elevate the knee while icing it. I like this PT guy especially because he has fixed numerical goals to achieve and he's serious about achieving them. I just have to grin and bear the pain.

QUESTION

What joints are most often affected by osteoarthritis? See Answer
Comment from: librarian, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 02

I had a total knee replacement in 2010 after an injury to the knee. When released from the hospital, I went to a rehabilitation facility on a Saturday. This facility does not do therapy on weekends, so I went two days with no therapy. No one bothered to tell me to bend the knee and by Monday, I had only a 90 degree bend and it has stayed that way in spite of 6 months of therapy. The therapist did not attempt to help me bend the knee. I wish he had. Stairs are difficult and there are many things I can no longer do. If you have a knee replacement and go for rehab, make sure the facility does therapy seven days a week and keep bending that knee!

Comment from: jvr, (Patient) Published: December 31

I had undergone knee replacement surgery, on the right one on 19th June 2014 and the left one on 13th August 2014 in one of the best hospitals. I am 70 years old and my height and weight are 1.65 m and 66 kg respectively. I have done the physiotherapy as directed by the physiotherapist for one month for each joint and continuing it even now. I am experiencing stiffness and tolerable pain for both the joints even now. The pain for the left knee is more than the right one. I did not get the benefit of the surgery to the extent the surgeon promised. I am having disturbed sleep during the night due to the pain on the knee joints particularly the right knee.

Comment from: marltom, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

I had a total knee replacement on October 20. Many problems I won't go into. I spent 8 days in rehabilitation and everyone said I did very well. I can do 120 on CPM machine. I can almost totally straighten the knee. Any exercise my physiotherapist gives me I can do. All this on nothing but Motrin as I am unable to take any pain medications. So what is the problem? I cannot walk without walker. Two physiotherapists say it is not the knee but weakness in the hip muscle of my opposite leg. Between the horrible pain and not being able to walk I am very sorry at this point that I had it done. My physiotherapist tells me it will get better, I hope she is right.

Comment from: SHARON, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 19

I had my knee replaced December 2013. It went very well, after surgery I was in hospital for 3 days. I went home and had home therapy for 2 weeks and as outpatient 3 weeks. It hurt during therapy but felt better when I got home. I went back to work in nursing end of February 2014. My knee swelled up each time I worked. I iced my knee, took ibuprofen, etc. It helped during the last few months. Only thing I’m concerned about is it still aches at times. And swells at times. Hope this will this get better and better as time goes by.

Comment from: Pain, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 17

Well, 12 hours after total knee replacement my prostate enlarged shutting urine flow off. Four nurses later, one with 33 years’ experience told me I was her first for not being able to put a catheter in. Number 5 was knee surgeon and no go. Number 6 was urologist with steel wire to break through. Then six days after knee surgery my leg got infected. I was on antibiotics for four days. Twenty days later swelling has all gone down. I have terrible knee/leg cramps and pain.

Comment from: Mar1948, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 31

I just turned 70 in July 2018. I had my 1st total knee replacement on June 25, 2018. Surgery went great, 2 days later I was home. First 2 nights home I was in tremendous knee pain most of each night. Afterwards I’ve been sleeping each night. I have been taking 5 mg of Percocet every 4 hours, then 3 weeks later started taking Percocet every 5 hours. I have limited pain, but feel stiff a lot. By 4 weeks my knee aches some and I experience stiffness. It has been 9 weeks since my surgery and I still use my walker. I will start using the cane soon.

Comment from: Mary Rose, 65-74 (Patient) Published: January 24

I had total knee replacement on my right knee 9 weeks ago. Two weeks ago, my surgeon said I was on track. I walk (hobble!) without a cane, though not for long periods, can go up the stairs one-at-a-time, slowly, but not down, and can sit with my knee bent for short periods of time. However I am still in quite a lot of pain, with particular sensitivity on the inside of my knee; pins and needles, etc. And I always feel as if there's a tight iron band (forever being tightened) around my knee. I know that I'm improving all the time, but it is so slow and very frustrating. I didn't know all this before the operation!

Comment from: sandybottom, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 03

I had total right knee replacement in May of 2015. I spent three days in hospital followed by 7 days in rehabilitation facility. I was walking upstairs during physical therapy after 5 days. I am pain free but knee is stiff going up and down stairs. It does not feel like part of my body.

Comment from: SkivySenior, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: June 01

I had my total knee replacement for the right knee done in August 2014 and had my left knee done in February 2015. Each time, I spent 3 days in hospital, a week in convalescent hospital and 3 weeks recovery at my daughter’s. Pain was not serious and was kept under control by oxycodone. A week after I returned home I was only using acetaminophen 500 mg. Second leg recovered more rapidly because I elevated it part of the day, thus reducing swelling. First leg I was overly concerned with blood clotting. I am very happy with my new legs, no longer bowed, and for some reason hairless. Downside is I cannot kneel for long periods. I am 85 and this was my first operation so I was a little fearful, but glad I had it done. Physiotherapy was done from first day after surgery until I returned home.

Comment from: Al, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: December 11

I have severe pain when I kneel on the replacement knee.

Comment from: Viv, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 07

I am 3 months after total knee replacement (TKR). It is painful when moving the knee sideways, and very stiff when lying down and sitting. It is my left knee, and I still have a kind of numb feeling down the outside of the knee, also my foot has pain and swelling! I had my right knee TKR and none of this trouble, and no trouble walking.

Comment from: Gimpy, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: May 18

I still have a red and angry looking knee. I wonder if this is normal 3 weeks post total knee replacement.

Comment from: cgn, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 09

I had total knee replacement about 2 years ago. I made great progress and felt like new until after the first year when I had tingling in the scar area and some burning. It feels more like surgical pain and the skin is being pulled when I bend it going up stairs. Also I feel joint pain if I put weight on my knee. Now I need the other knee done. I will do it but not looking forward to it.

Comment from: wacihin711, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 09

I had a knee replacement early December 2016 and I noticed that sometimes when I am walking I feel the disc in the knee. I want to know if anyone had that experience. Also, I am still dealing with swelling in my knee, leg, ankles, and feet. I am still dealing with some pain but it has gotten better.

Comment from: Cp, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 28

I had total knee replacement 12 weeks ago. I am doing pretty good; no cane, or walker. I am just wondering if it is normal to be swollen below knee cap and total numbness.

Comment from: Liz, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I have terrible pain after surgery on June 29. Ice bags hurt, exercise is a joke. All I get is more pain. I can't bear the pain. I will never do this again. It was a huge mistake. I went from doing practically everything, to doing nothing at al. My doctor won't call back. I'm a surgery failure for him.

Comment from: Maureen, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I am post total knee replacement (TKR) by 2 years. I have chronic back pain, need 1 to 2 crutches to get around. I have chronic pain in back and right knee. After operation I suffered wound infection, and needed to be dressed every 2nd day. Worst choice I ever made, I am unable to work and very depressed. My field was nursing, 30 years, this was a work area injury, but did not want to stay on workfare and managed to get back to work, only to find I was unable to continue. Now my life is a nightmare. I went to rehabilitation, but have weight issues, this may be my downfall. So many positive good results from most people. I also have loss of feeling in leg, just does not seem like my leg.

Comment from: 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 30

I had total knee replacement on June 5th 2014. After surgery I had very bad pain, now it has been 5 months of knee stiffness and tightness and some pain when trying to sleep. I will be glad when I feel better, right now I regret having a knee replacement. I am 73, female, and my other knee needs replacement, but now I am afraid to have it done.

Comment from: Islacintron, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 11

I had bilateral knee replacement on September 18, 2014. It has been seven weeks, I won't deny it is painful, but if you have a good doctor and like me, go straight to rehabilitation, you will be fine. I had a great team help with my therapy. Now I walk with cane and every day it feels better and I'm so looking forward to living my life 'knee pain free' after many years of knee pain.