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Recovery from Bilateral Knee Replacement
Pearl101 posted:
Hi, I just found this site, wanted to share experiences. I have had 2 total hip replacements, both complete successes. Then the knees went. 3/15/10 I had bilateral knee replacements. It has been a month now and my first checkup went great but I still have some questions. Is it normal for the tendons and ligaments running up the back of the leg to be tight? I used to be able to sit in bed and read with my legs straight out in front of me flat. Now the back of the knee hurts. The surgeon said this will go away but does it take physical therapy to do so? What about massage? I turned down pt because I exercise every morning and tried it once and all they did was make me so sore I didn't want to return. Any suggestions? Also, I can walk without assistance but have to keep remembering to straighten the knee or I walk with it bent. And it is exhausting to stand still for any period of time. I figure this will get better. There is no real "pain", uneasiness and ache and I am down to 2 or 3 Darvocet a day. I read another post on this site that the entire body feels like it has been assaulted, is this true for others too? I get very frustrated and sometimes angry that I am "stuck" sitting in a chair while my husband still has to take care of meals, etc. Then get up and do too much and pay for it with stiffness. Also, sitting for more than an hour or so creates stiffness. Is all this within the bounds of normal and I just being unrealistic in expecting to be back on my feet fully functioning after about 5 weeks? Sorry for the long post, I am bursting with questions. Any help or encouragment will be greatly appreciated.
bayfieldsmith replied to Johnmoshust's response:
I am 50, 2 weeks post op from bilateral knee replacement. I am encouraged by your recovery johnmoshust. I am just wondering does anyone have any advice for sleeping position? The nights are very long and I really could use some good sleep longer than 2 hours. I'm progressing pretty well according to my PT (in home)
So glad to have found this discussion board! Happy Knees to all!
Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to bayfieldsmith's response:
Hi Bayfieldsmith and welcome here!

I'm afraid your post here on this discussion which is years old may be missed by others who could give you the feedback you're looking for and so I encourage you to start a new discussion on the board.

To do that, hold your cursor over the orange Post Now button and chose 'Discussion' from the menu which appears. Fill in the subject line and body of the message (you can ignore the poll part if you want) and Submit.
We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace. ~Peggy Tabor Millin
Johnmoshust replied to Caprice_WebMD_Staff's response:
It is one month plus one day since my bi-lateral total knee replacement. I am walking about the house and yard without canes, crutches, or walker. I am 9/16 of an inch taller and when I stand straight, my knees touch each other. Prior to surgery I was severely bow legged and a football could fit between my knees. Each day my range of mobility increases. I look forward to my trips to therapy and perform 2 hrs. of home therapy on the days without a scheduled physical therapy appointment. I do not have any pain when I move and use my new knee joints. I do have great stiffness in both legs above and below each knee. It feels as though I have knee braces on each knee limiting their motion. The sensation is not unpleasant and I can feel the tendons stretching when I exert a stretching force. Each day, in subtle ways, I notice improvements in mobility. Yesterday my right leg bent enough for me to swing it into the front seat of my pick-up. Stairs get easier each time I tackle them, descending is still more difficult than ascending. I am weaning off of Percocet and Oxicontin. I still take Celebrex daily. It takes about an hour each morning to "wake" the legs up. If the lower leg is not covered with a stocking or ace bandage wrap, my skin has a strange burning, tingling, sensation that is rather unpleasant and annoying. During the night this sensation prohibits sleep. My uncovered legs will not tolerate a sheet or blanket and if I use them the sensation increases. If I keep a stocking or bandage on my legs, the nasty sensation diminishes and I sleep well. I definitely know that I have new knees. I do not have the noises, pain, and wobble that my old, arthritic, worn out knee joints, had. After finally convincing myself that my prosthetic knees will not break during exercise, I am happy doing more exercise and look forward to the increased mobility that the therapy brings. For a month prior to my surgery, I participated in self-imposed pre surgery therapy program. I worked through the pain and stretched and strengthened my old knees. It seems that I am now reaping benefits from this torture. My sutures appear to be healing nicely and I am growing accustomed to the "Frankenstein" look. The reality of never being able to wear mini-skits again is one that I can deal with!
bodyinmotion responded:
Just had my tkr 5/10. Hope you will consider therapy,I knew how much I would not know after such a major surgery, so trusted my professional team. Therapy was great learning experience. Included was: heat to loosen up first. Then massage with some bio-cream, massage I think helps break up scar tissue, then yes, necessary bending, bike riding. Each time new exercises were added. Then icing before I leave. I wanted to make sure to take advantage of all the professionals and their knowledge. I feel I had great therapy right from the start. It was never, "here go do some of these", it was very hands on. Slow painful recovery is common but feel WAY better after 1 month, know I have a ways to go. I have trouble sleeping at night, take a pain pill to help sleep. Have pretty much decided to sleep in my recliner as I feel the best . Hard to get comfy in bed.
wilomena replied to wilomena's response:
Okay, I'm posting this as a reply to my own post -- hope that makes sense. I'm now 7 1/2 weeks post op for bilateral knee replacement. Everyone still says I'm doing great. I think if I could just get some decent restful sleep I'd feel better, but I can't. Asked the surgeon and he said take two pain pills at bed time. . . then promptly cut down on the number of pills in the prescription. well, that makes no sense. I wake up with the feeling like the skin on my knees is going to pop. I know it's not and the p.t. says that's swelling causing that sensation, but it's not going away. I put the legs way up, ice them down and nothing is helping. and the last couple of days, ice seems to hurt. I had ice packs on my knees and it was really hurting. felt like the ice packs weighed a ton. is that normal? The ice is the one thing that has been getting me through. I'm doing p.t. three times a week and then on two days going to a heated pool for my own version of water therapy. that used to feel good, but not any more. does anyone have any suggestions? I need to be starting to go into the office to work. I went yesterday, lasted 1 1/2 hours and was miserable by the time I got home. I have to work. that's not an option.

asil419 replied to bayfieldsmith's response:
I am 49, and 6 weeks post op bilateral knee replacements.from the very start i've slept with a thin pillow under my knees.
I've seen some posts saying not to but i haven't had any problems i can still straighten my knees.I can also sleep on my side now with a pillow between my knees. good luck ! it gets better.
notworkingtwonewknees replied to MeSand's response:
I was so pleased to hear someone else describe their pain as bands around their knees. I had bilateral knee replacements in sept last year and at 4 months was amazing then everything went backwards. I tried more therapy pool exercises etc but I am so limited I with what I can do without pain. I cannot last more than three hous shopping walking doing normal things. I want my life back. My doctor can find nothing wrong with my knees at present but I intend to perserverve with physiotherapy cycling on stationary bike etc. however why am I like this?
greatgardner responded:
physical therapy is a very important part of your recovery from joint replacements--numbness around the knees, tightness in the knees especially after sitting for more than 30 minutes, soreness in the knees, back of the knees, up/down the calves aand thighs are normal and sometimes the feeling that your knees weight a ton are all normal sensations post surgery.
If you saw this type of surgery you would understand why your body is totally affected. Sitting in chair all day is not good for you. Get up get moving and you will get better
greatgardner replied to bayfieldsmith's response:
I hope that you are now receiving PT in a outpatient department---so much more they can do than home therapy--I had my knees done 5/29/12--Lack of sleep seems to be a comman complaint as 2 other neighbors of mine have had both knees done over the past year!!--they are a blessing and encouragement as is the other patients in therapy. Sleeping with a pillow between the legs on your side is my best position and when I lie there awake i stretch out both legs straight--leg extension is extrememly important as is that horrible flexion (bending back). Never lie or sit with a pillow under your knees--for any longer that 5 minutes..WALK with purpose--staightening your legs---heel to toe steps.
CarrieMNJ replied to Johnmoshust's response:
Thank you for your helpful tips. I hope this finds your recovery speeding along, even if you must abandon those mini-skirts. At 71, (perhaps we should all post our ages because this may help to explain differences in recovery) I'm past mini-skirts, and will have bilateral TKR on 10/25. These postings have been an eye-opener; I expected to mend rather more quickly than the 'realities' I've just read. I'd like to know what you did for your pre-surgical therapy. I just bought a set of adjustable (1/2 to 5 lb) ankle weights & plan to do leg lifts to strengthen thigh muscles. Is this a good plan? Do you have other suggestions? I live alone in a 2nd floor unit with 22 high steps to my door. Suddenly I realize this may be a bigger obstacle than anticipated. How long did it take you to climb a flight of stairs? Thank you for any help.
CarolB replied to CarrieMNJ's response:
I had both knees done 4 months ago. I'm 67 and a bit overweight. There are 13 steep steps up to my room so my leg muscles were very firm which helped recovery. I spent 1 month in a rehab facility (very good one thankfully). They made sure I could climb stairs before release. Stairs were much easier than expected, key for me was to use the rail and a cane. Important to keep the toes pointed straight ahead when walking but especially on the stairs, less pain and trains the muscles correctly. Recovery is painful but not unbearable. Important to make sure the Dr. understands in advance what pain meds do and don't work for you. After 2 months my knees were less painful than before replacement. It is harder to do both at once but both are healed much sooner than doing separately. My mother did one knee 20 years ago, did not do the exercises and is worse off than before, knee stiff, adhesions and takes 3-4" steps. Can't stress enough to do all of the therapy and continue on your own long after the therapist stops treating you. Luck!
An_248601 replied to CarolB's response:
Carol, thank you for your helpful advice. Just 2 days left, and it's a race to see if the R knee gives way before the surgery to fix it. (The left is angry, but at least I can trust it not to hyperflex.) This has reduced exercises some, but knowing that lots of hard work and time will restore the joy of walking makes it worth all the extra effort. I'm delighted to learn that 2 months brought you so much improvement. Your warning is well-taken. I'll be staying with friends for a while after rehab, so know they won't allow me to slack off. They have orders to be stern . . . and they're ready to comply. Best wishes for your continued success!
AshevilleKnees replied to Michael P Bolognesi, MD's response:
Hi from Asheville,
I had TKR 8 weeks ago and I am bending my knee 112 degrees and 11 degrees from laying it flat. I had my last physical therapy session today and was told I had reached my goals because I am back to work, walking well and can do most everything I need...I am extremely young for my age. I am not at 120 bending nor can I lay my leg flat - two things my ortho has ask me to do. Am I too late to do it now? Please tell me I am not? My PT folks were not very encouraging but I know it's up to me...would scarring have already happened?
Thank you....I work at a hospital as well....not with in your area but I sure need your help.
Fleacatcher responded:
How long did it take Pearl 101 to recover from the tight band feeling around the knees? Same for being able to stand for more than 15 minutes? Same for being able to walk 1 mile w/o pain?
Missouri_granny responded:
I realize this is an old post but I am posting on it to help others if they find this listing. I had bi lateral knee replacement 4 weeks ago. DO THE PHYSICAL THERAPY! I can walk on my own, I can go up and down the stairs, I can get out of a chair, and I am on NO pain pills. Yes, PT can make you sore. But if you refuse it you are going to have a LOT MORE soreness.

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