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When Will My Knee Replacement Feel Normal

Thoughts On 3 Months After Knee Replacement Surgery

When will my knee feel normal after knee replacement surgery?
  • Kate Fischer

    Thank you for so much detail. Im at 3 months with my left knee. It was more painful than my right, 6 months ago, and I havent done my pt quite as religiously as I could; the pain was pretty severe the second time. Your description of how you feel after exercise helps me understand that im not as far behind as I thought I was, Im just having a different experience from the first time around. TIME TO MOVE MORE!

  • Ken Stangl

    Hi Kate, at least this time you have your prior experience to learn from. The body is fickle, isnt it? You might recover quickly from one TKR surgery and you might experience a few setbacks with the second. I try to ice even when I dont think I need it and I try not to over-do it with too much exercise. Little by little Im improving and getting stronger. As long as your doctor approves it, keep walking, swimming, stretching, and strengthening! I hope recovery with your second knee continues to improve, even if its a slower process than the first.

  • Karen

    Hi Ken,

    I am scheduled for 1st TKR in June and the 2nd in Oct. Due to my young age 67 I was told it wasnt wise to get both done at the same time. From all you detailed and great info it looks like I will be down for a while. Would you advice waiting longer in between surgeries to gain more strength.

    Thanks

  • Karen May 17, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Ken,

    I am sure everyone is greatly appreciative for your blog and the time you take to answer comments. I know I am.

    Thanks

  • When Will My Knee Feel Normal

    Despite advancements in the design of total knee replacements, your;knee will never feel perfectly normal after surgery. A;total knee replacement cannot exactly replicate;the way a normal knee moves. You can anticipate knee flexion of about;110-120° after surgery, whereas a normal knee bends up to 130° in some.;Many manufacturers market high flexion knee implant;designs that promise greater knee bending; however, surgeons have;not been able to produce these results in actual;patients. While a knee replacement may not feel like a normal knee you;had before the onset of arthritis, a total knee replacement;does accomplish a significant reduction in your pain and consequently allows better;function;and quality of life.

    What Are The Risk Factors For A Failed Knee Replacement

    Age, activity level, surgical history and a persons weight can contribute to implant failure. Younger, active patients, people who are obese, and those who have had prior knee surgeries all have a higher increased risk of a failed implant.

    Younger, more active patients have a higher rate of revision than older, less active patients because they place more stress on their prosthesis over more time. Obese patients have a higher incidence of wear and loosening because of the increased force of their weight, and they are more prone to infections because of their increased risk of wound healing. Patients with previous knee surgeries are at higher risk for infection and implant failure.

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    What Are The Alternatives To Revision Surgery

    Alternatives to revision knee surgery are rarely used as they can sometimes be more complex and lead to worse results than revision surgery, but they include knee fusion or .

    The following alternatives are employed depending on the seriousness of the problem affecting the knee:

    • of the knee joint may relieve pain but at the expense of keeping the knee in a fixed, non-bending position.
    • may be used in extreme cases in which the knee joint has a severe infection that cannot be eradicated

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    On This PageWhen Can Complications Happen?

  • During surgery or within the first few weeks after surgeryNerve damage, nerve block complications, blood clots
  • Weeks to a year or more after surgeryLoosening, infection, implant rejection , component misalignment or failure, pain, swelling and warmth or heat in the knee, loss of mobility or range of motion
  • Any time after surgery Instability and dislocation, fractures, bone loss, wear and tear, revision surgery
  • Medically Reviewed

    Board-certified physicians medically review Drugwatch content to ensure its accuracy and quality.

    Drugwatch partners with Physicians Review Network Inc. to enlist specialists. PRN is a nationally recognized leader in providing independent medical reviews.

    Reviewer specialties include internal medicine, gastroenterology, oncology, orthopedic surgery and psychiatry.

    Terry Turner has been writing articles and producing news broadcasts for more than 25 years. He covers FDA policy, proton pump inhibitors, and medical devices such as hernia mesh, IVC filters, and hip and knee implants. An Emmy-winning journalist, he has reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Some of his qualifications include:

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    The Day Of Total Knee Replacement Surgery After The Surgery That Is Is Not Always The Same As The Day After Total Knee Replacement Surgery

    Are you worried about a loved-one who just had total knee replacement surgery, who seemed to be doing well and in high spirits several hours after the surgery, but then next day, seemingly has taken a turn for the worse?

    Relax. This is normal. I know so because my father just had total knee replacement surgery.

    The surgery for his knee replacement was in the late morning, and in the evening, I visited him.

    He was in high spirits, feeling no pain , and his knee had what appeared to be several pounds of bandages wrapped around it, above it and below it.

    The next day, I saw a completely different man. He complained of burning skin and a burning forehead, yet a chilled lower body; grueling pain in the knee despite having been medicated all day long with painkillers, and was depressed, downtrodden, dismal, and kept complaining that there had been no progress with the rehab.

    His startling words were, I have a gut feeling something is wrong. He said he felt that the knee just wasnt working at all during the rehab.

    The morning after total knee replacement surgery, a patient is started on rehab.

    In the surgery, the knee is literally replaced; the patella bone is removed and a titanium plate is put in, and in between the knee are metal parts that substitute for the cartilage that was originally there.

    Despite such extensive surgery, the patient is given rehab the following morning.

    This wasnt just about knee pain.

    ;

    Looking After Your New Knee

    • continue to take any prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to help manage any pain and swelling
    • use your walking aids;but aim to gradually decrease the amount you rely on them as your leg feels stronger
    • keep up your exercises to help prevent stiffness, but do not force your knee
    • do not sit with your legs crossed for the first 6 weeks after your operation
    • do not put a pillow underneath your knee when sleeping as;this can result in a permanently bent knee
    • avoid twisting at your knee
    • wear supportive shoes outdoors
    • do not kneel on your operated knee until your surgeon says;you can
    • raise your leg when sitting and apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel for 20 minutes every 3 or 4 hours to reduce any swelling

    Page last reviewed: 02 August 2019 Next review due: 02 August 2022

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    Your Recovery Timeline: What To Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery

    After knee replacement surgery, most patients wonder how long it will take before theyre back to feeling normal. For example, how long does it take to get a full range of motion? You may also be wondering how long you can expect any lingering stiffness to last. While every case is unique, there are typical timeframes you can use as a guideline.

    Your range of motion capabilities often progress rapidly during the first three months following surgery, provided you are working with a physical therapist and following your doctors recommendations. Your range of motion may continue to improve for up to two years after your surgery.;

    You can expect to use a variety of stretches and exercises in order to achieve optimal motion with your replaced knee. The normal range of motion after a knee replacement is defined as being able to bend your knee back to 90 degrees.

    Do I Really Need A Total Knee Replacement

    “My total knee replacement feels like a normal knee”

    A total knee replacement is an elective surgery performed on arthritic knees. A total knee replacement is performed once you have exhausted all other means of managing your pain. If the;pain from your arthritis has progressed to the point that your quality of life is suffering, then total;knee replacement surgery may be an option for you. With rare exception, no one has to have a total knee replacement . When you are ready, I tell me patients, they will know. While total knee replacements;are very effective at improving function and eliminating pain, total knee replacement surgery is still a major surgery, and although >95% of patients report excellent outcomes, the complications;can be devastating and should not be ignored.

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    How Long Does A Knee Replacement Last

    About 90% of first-time knee replacements last at least 15 years,4 and many last at least 20 years.5

    Patients can extend the life of their knee replacements by complying with their physical therapy routines and avoiding high-impact activities, such as jumping or jogging. High impact activities cause friction between the man-made components of the replacement knee, causing wear and tear.

    Revision Knee Replacement SurgeryIf the initial knee replacement components need to be replaced for any reason, a second surgery called a revision total knee replacement may be needed. Wear-and-tear on components, component loosening, infection, and knee joint instability are the most common possible causes for needing revision surgery. Other reasons include knee stiffness and bone fractures.

    Patients should talk to their doctors about when is the best time to schedule knee replacement surgery.

    When Can I Get Back To My Usual Activities

    The timing for getting back to typical activities varies from person to person. The one thing that doesnt vary is the need for physical therapy to help get you there.

    Heres a high-level look of the progress you can expect to see in the first three months of recovery with regular physical therapy:

    • One month after surgery: Youll probably start doing low-impact, daily activities like driving, returning to work, household chores and regular errands.
    • Two months after surgery: Around the seven-week mark, you can likely start enjoying low-impact physical activities again. Many of my patients love getting active by swimming, biking and taking longer walks at this point in their recovery.
    • Three months after surgery: You may be able to return to high-impact physical activity like running, skiing or other activities you enjoy. Youll need to start slow and be gentle with yourself, but youll be able to work up to the level of activity you were used to.

    All that said, its important to follow your post-op surgery instructions including regular follow-ups with your surgeon. Theyll let you know what youre ready for during your follow-up visits and coordinate recommendations with your physical therapist.

    If youre not sure an activity will be safe on your new knee, dont hesitate to ask your surgeon or physical therapist.

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    What Is An Artificial Knee

    An artificial knee, often referred to as a total knee replacement, is a structure made of metal and a special type of plastic that replaces a knee that has usually been severely damaged by arthritis.

    An orthopedic surgeon may recommend a total knee replacement if your knee joint is badly damaged from arthritis and the pain is seriously affecting your daily life.

    In a healthy knee joint, the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones protects the bones from rubbing together and allows them to move freely against one another.

    Arthritis affects this cartilage, and over time it can become worn away, allowing the bones to rub against one another. This often results in pain, swelling, and stiffness.

    During knee replacement surgery, the damaged cartilage and a small amount of underlying bone is removed and replaced with metal and a special type of plastic. The plastic acts to replace the function of the cartilage and allow the joint to move freely.

    Knee Replacement Recovery Tips

    Knee replacement can feel and function like a normal knee ...

    Here’s some top tips for four common questions about total knee replacement recovery time:

  • How Long Does The Pain Last?;Many people find they have less pain after their knee replacement as the arthritis pain is no longer there. The post-op pain usually settles down within 6-12 weeks although their may be some residual pain and swelling for up to a year
  • How Do I Sleep After A Knee Replacement? Typically people find it most comfy to sleep on a firm mattress, either lying on their back or on their side with a pillow between their legs
  • Can I Kneel Down With My Knee Replacement? Yes you can although it may be uncomfortable in which case use a cushion or knee pad. Kneeling won’t cause any damage to the knee replacement
  • How Do I Make the Best Recovery? In order to make the best knee replacement recovery, follow all the advice from your doctor and physical therapist. Start exercises prior to surgery, get up and about as soon as possible, stick to your rehab programme, take medications reguarly when advised and keep going. There may be ups and downs along the way, but stay focused and positive
  • You can find the answers to loads more similar questions in the total knee replacement recovery questions section.;

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    Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery

    Outpatient physical therapy is typically prescribed after discharge and will usually begin within a week of surgery. A physical therapist will teach the patient:

    • Knee strengthening exercises
    • Knee exercises to encourage range of motion and reduce scar tissue
    • How to use assistive walking devices, such as a walker and cane

    Will I Experience Pain And What Medicines Are Available

    Pain after knee replacement surgery is normal. Most of my patients have some level of pain and swelling for several weeks.

    At TRIA, well work with you to create a plan to help manage your pain. Plans commonly include a combination of:

    • Home remedies such as applying a cold compress or elevation to reduce swelling in your knee
    • Hands-on care to reduce inflammation and swelling
    • Prescription strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Movement strategies
    • Over-the-counter medications

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    Malpositioning Of The Implants

    Surgeons make an effort to balance the knee at the time of surgery. This means finding the proper size and alignment of the knee replacement so that the knee joint is not too tight, and not too loose, and so this balancing is the same with the knee straight and bent.

    This is precisely why a knee replacement is a difficult procedure, and the art of perfecting this takes many years. Errors in the positioning of an implant may not be apparent on the operating table and only become evident when the recovery is stalled.

    Newer patient-specific knee replacements are tailor-made and may reduce the risk of malpositioning.

    Physical Therapy 3 Months After Tkr Surgery

    Will My New Knee Ever Feel Normal? (Part 2)

    If you havent read my article on physical therapy post-surgery, I suggest you read that article first.

    After my home therapy for two weeks and off-site therapy for the next 6 weeks, my off-site therapist gave me a written plan for all the exercises that she had assigned to me. If one isnt given to you I suggest you ask your therapist!

    All of the exercises using machines, bands, balls, and other equipment were available to me in my local fitness center. She suggested that I do a hard workout every other day and a light workout on alternating days.

    Ive been doing these on my own in the 3rd month.

    • On hard workout days, I always warm up on the stationary bike for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • I use the leg press and do 5 minutes of leg presses. At first, I used no weight, now I am using 40 pounds.
    • I use the captains chair for leg lifts and calf raises
    • I use the ball for ankle slides and squats.
    • I use leg machines for extension and flexion and then stretch both claves for 30 seconds 3 times each.

    Strengthening my hips has helped to relieve pressure from my knees . I use a band to walk forward, backward and sideways and also do bridges to strengthen my hips.

    Afterward, I go in the hot tub for 5 to 10 minutes and work on my;range of motion before taking a shower and walking a mile home.

    • On alternating days I swim a half-mile, ride a bicycle 6 miles or take a 3-mile walk.

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    Living With A Knee Replacement

    Total knee replacement may greatly improve function, but most patients will not be able to do more than they did before the onset of arthritis.

    A replacement knee may feel different than a natural knee. One small study3 found that most people report being aware of their new knees even 12 months after surgery. Their awareness was most notable when climbing stairs, kneeling, or rising from a chair. About half of the people in the study also reported symptoms such as knee stiffness , swelling, crackling, or numbness.

    These symptoms can exist even though overall knee function is improved and knee pain is decreased. These symptoms do not mean the knee replacement surgery was not successful or that patients regretted having the surgery.

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