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Readers Respond: How Difficult Was It to Go Back to Work After Knee Replacement?

Responses: 46


Updated January 09, 2011

Still in pain

I had my left knee replaced on August 10th 2011, Its now Nov. 10th & I am still in pain. Especially the muscles on the side & above my knee. They spasm & hurt so bad I can't sleep. If I sleep 3 hours a night that's a good night sleep for me. I've done PT & still do some by myself. If I had known the pain would be as bad as it has been I wouldn't have had it done. I stand pain well usually but this is worst pain I've ever been in. The Dr wants to do my right knee but no way will I have it done. I went to a nursing home rehab for a week after surgery & that was the worst thing I did, They let my leg get infected & a blood clot happened, I went back to the hospital for another week. I was up walking the morning after surgery & still walk but If I don't rest a lot the pain gets worse. I still take pain pills but only when the pain gets very bad, I don't want to get addicted.
—Guest Annette

Right knee replacement

I recall my doctor with many medical field advisors talking about how young I am for a knee replacement. May be I am but what do you do when your doctor has exhausted every treatment possible and nothing was working other then living on pain meds. It got to the point whereby it affected my right side rear back, hip, and ankle? I got my RK replacement in July of 2011 and on November 1st 2011 they had to go in again for a revision. Yea the pain sucks but do we want to live a healthy productive life or do be accept our medical conditions and live with pain for the remainder of our life? It's depressing and sometimes you wonder if going through such drastic measures is worth it. It hurts, painful, I seen many people become successful. I wish my experience was different! They said to me I will eventually see light at the end of the tunnel. My tunnel has been dark for a very long time and it's starting to get lonely.
—Guest Domingo

Post op pain

I had my right knee done in Feb 2010. I now have zero pain and just over 130 degree motion. Post op pain was worst thing for me and a morphine PCA was needed for 4 days. Having the staples out was easy and the physio, although painful and hard work, was useful as it gave me goals to aim for. I also saw a specialist massage therapist for work on the scar tissue and helping to stretch the hamstrings. I would strongly suggest people use this type of treatment as at the stage you require it, it is more useful than physio. I am now 100% pain free and at 44 it has given me the quality of life I deserve. If your knee is so bad, do not be put off by being told you are to young. There are also some really good knee support groups on the Internet and these were a big help on the mental side of things. Good luck to anyone having a TKR - I promise you it is worthwhile.
—Guest Andrew Reid

9 weeks after both knees replaced

I am 59 year old female having worked for the last 42 years in warehousing needless to say both knees were worn out my doctor said we would just do them both at the same time which I agreed. I can say I have never had as much pain and sickness in my entire life I thought I was dying! But I didn't but I never dreamed it would be so bad not just the pain but the meds messed with my stomach could not eat anything did not sleep for the first 5 weeks over 2 hours a night got depressed cried a lot and wondered what I had done. My doctor said I was doing great and both knees range is 125. I know now I was not mentally ready for everything that was happining to my body. But now each day is a little better. The old pain is gone as the limping and uneven walk. Today I walk straight, the new pain fades with each day and I now sleep 5-6 hours each night. I can now say this was worth it. I still have a few months before I am 100% but am in the right state of mind I know I will make it now.
—Guest charlotte

One at a time

I had my first replacement 2 years ago, second two weeks ago. You need to have one good leg while the other is recovering. It's really important to keep taking the pain killers so you can do the bending exercises. If you don't do them then the scar tissue will restrict movement. If you walk a bit then do the bending exercises, then they can be a bit easier. Use a cold pack at least 4 times a day to minimise swelling, and raise the foot of the bed slightly. For the first time in 5 years (after a car accident) I can walk pain free, without a limp, less than 3 weeks after surgery. It only hurts when I bend it. Hydrotherapy makes the exercises easier too, well worth the trip back to the hospital where the water is warmer.

So glad

I am 30 days past right knee replacement and am so glad that I had it done. Starting P/T at the hospital tomorrow. Taking Aleve for pain, having trouble sleeping all of a sudden. Minor to midrange pain in my lower leg. Just curious if others have the lower leg pain issues.
—Guest don

Back to Work in 4 Weeks

I had my left knee replacement on 4 July 2011 and was discharged home after 4 days where I had no one but 4 walls to talk to. I returned to work as an office bound manager after 4 weeks. I required only minimal Tylenol for pain relief up to 4 weeks post op. and didn't use walking aids at any stage. I returned to 18 holes of golf at 8 weeks and at that time had 120 degrees of bend. Now at 13 weeks post op. I have 130 degrees. All in all it has been a great success and after 42 years of putting up with a painful knee I am finally free of pain. I have been using an exercycle in my lounge since week 4 and have gradually put the seat lower as my knee bends better. It is now as low as it can go. I live in New Zealand and would recommend knee replacement to anyone at any age but first check the credentials of you surgeon, understand the operation and what it entails and get in as best physical and emotional shape you can before surgery. Good luck.
—Guest Peter

Knee recovery

some different responses, I am 4 weeks out of surgery and going ok. Still swelling but this is normal. Physio, hydro 3 times a week. Have sore back, but I am told this is normal, your hamstrings are affected by this opertion. Good to see Carole has positive attitude, hope I get there soon too!! Little steps people - it's the hardest thing to learn when you have been active!!!
—Guest del

9 Weeks Post-Op

I feel steady improvement after my total knee replacement, but like other responders, I am sometimes discouraged. My Orthopedist and Physical Therapist both insist my recovery is normal, and my range of motion is improving. The worst aspect of recovery by far was my severe illness when I withdrew from the narcotic pain meds. Do NOT stop suddenly. The pain in your knee will seem mild compared to the horrific withdrawal symptoms (though dr. says it is very different for each person). Though Physical Therapy is crucial, no one warned me in advance how the therapist would physically bend the scar tissue to break it up, or how excruciating it would be. If you want to regain range of motion, you MUST endure it. Knee replacement is not for the fragile: My average pain level has hovered at a 7 out of 10 before meds, and a 2-3 on meds. Friends swear it is the best decision they've ever made when the healing is complete. Just go in knowing it will be an ordeal!

Stiffness and pain

I had a total knee replacement three months ago and I am still in a lot of pain and frustrated I am not moving forward. P. T. is over and I am on my own! Not sure how much longer it will be before I can go back to work and be pain free? I walk everyday, however, my knee puffs up every time with a lot of pain...not sure if I would have made this chioce, had I known? I am 54 and feeling angry every single day!!
—Guest Nancy

Return to work

I had bilateral knee surgery in June 2011 and I am sending this reply from work Sept. 2011. I went back to work 10 weeks after my operation and it has not been easy. My legs feel great and I want to walk everywhere but I am experiencing back pain and back spasms. When you spend so many years with one gait and change it to another, you will experience problems. I am seeing a chiropractor to get some help with the back pain. I get tired at work after about 6 hours. We put in 10 hour days 4 days a week-so it's not too bad. I do want to tell Rebecca-you should not be on a stepper!! Who told you that was okay? Check with your therapist-I am not even allowed to ride a stationary bike. Try swimming or walking. Good luck to you.

Knee Surgery Disaster

I had a bilateral knee replacement in 11/08. It was the most excruciating surgery I've ever experienced. I couldn't stand without pain so severe I almost passed out. I went to physical therapy three times a week and still had to use a walker three months later. Six months after the surgery my right knee cap tore loose making my knee unstable. Two surgeries later, I have no quad tendon and an unstable right knee that buckles without warning. I have had three visits to the ER for head trauma due to falls because of my knee. The doctor that did the first surgery retired. The doctor that did the second surgery won't see me. The third doctor says my knee is a tragic mistake that can't be repaired. They can fuse my knee where I have a stiff leg or I can risk a fatal fall. I'm 58, an RN and instead of being able to play with my grandbabies, I struggle to get out of a chair, walk only short distances and have pain every day.
—Guest MMagee

Still in pain

My bilateral knee replacement surgery was 9 weeks ago and I am still experiencing a lot of knee pain. I need to return to work no later than 8/28 but I'm not sure I'll be able to do it by then. Started exercising on a stepper and I seem to be worse. I am 54 years old. Anybody have suggestions?
—Guest Rebecca

Working After Knee Replacement

I have had bilateral knee replacement. I am still in pain. It seems that when you also have back problems it takes longer for your knees to get better, It is almost two years after my surgery and I am still limping. I cannot get better until I get my back better. Ask lots of questions before doing this surgery. People who say you can go back to work in eight weeks are not entirely correct. Each knee replacement story depends on the individual and other symptoms they may be experiencing, including obesity. Don't let other stories be your guide but if you need the knee replacement by all means get it, it does help.
—Guest Beverly

Depends on Occupation

I had bilateral knee replacements 11/09, I was able to do light house hold duties (laundry, dusting, dishes, cooking) by 2 weeks as long as I paced myself with the aid of my walker. First week was the absolute hardest, operation was on a Monday, able to do payroll that Friday & bookkeeping as long as I didn't over do it. (1/2 hr. tops with both legs down). My husband & I are dairy farmers, I'm in charge of the calves, bookkeeping, barn chores & field work. Was able to keep up with the bookkeeping, calf feeding schedule chart. Returned to very light duty at 12 weeks, worked my way up gradually, at the 6 month mark I was able to do more than I had before surgery. It's been over a year now, no more living on pain meds, my activity is much greater & life is much better after knee replacements. There are things I'll never be able to do again BUT I would surely do it again. Instead of gradually getting worse, I got gradually BETTER ; ))) I'm only 50 & I feel it again.
—Guest Carole

Returning to work

I am 7 weeks post bilateral knee replacements. I am still having pain standing. I'm doing exercises and walking short distances. I can't imagine returning to work like this.
—Guest Kathy
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