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

Responses: 114

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Updated January 09, 2011

Both knees partial

Had my surgery done Jan 6th. Now it's Jan 21st! Phew, lots of work! Was in the hospital 5 days, pain yes indeed! Went home I had my boyfriend 24-7 for the first 10 days, believe me u will need it! The hardest thing and one of the most important is pt stretching! People do this massage your legs don't get lazy, I went in yesterday, had stitches removed, the wounds look ok, the sterile strips fell off:(, my brother went to pharmacy, and redid it! I have good days yes indeed, pain now is different, stiffness normal. I take pain meds, without them I would have been crazy:(. U have to stay above your pain! Pain pills yes most of us will be addicted! I am but in the mean time we have to just focus on getting better, and I am lucky cause I am an apt mgr so I live where I work! I have 100 support! Sitting at a desk I cannot even imagine:(. Move stretch do your pt never ever give up!! Am I glad I did it, maybe not the two knees together but they were both bad! I am 55, I want to play w the kid.
—Guest Vicki Thomas

Glad I read these responses

I had TKR on the right knee Nov 1, 2011. It was a traumatic experience and the most pain I had ever experienced. I have had a good recovery in terms of range of movement etc. But I am addicted to the pain meds and now realize it will be at least 6 months before I am recovered and unaware of my surgery. My knee is a little stiff when I first stand up, still puffy on the right side and of course, numb. Lots of weird pains as nerves try to reconnect and regrow and sometimes I just feel like I have an "alien" leg. I am not sleeping well either. I will wake with aching leg/knee and when my pain meds wear off my whole pelvis hurts. I guess it comes with the territory and I know it will be better but it's taking a lot of mental strength to get through this. I've wondered if I did the right thing but I think I'll be right as rain in a few short months.
—Guest Robyn

3 Months Later

Went back to work three months after bilateral total knee replacement. I work in an office. When at home I used the stationary bike several times a day plus my scheduled therapy. Sitting all day now has seemed to set me back a bit. My legs feel stiff after sitting a while. It is difficult getting up from a chair without something to hold on to. Steps are still ugly. I have been very diligent with my physical therapy. I have been using exercycle, stepper, weights since 2 months post op. Just dumped the cane last week. I am hoping that I have not plateaued. Have had back and hip aches off and on. Legs seem weak even after intense therapy over the 3 months. Range of motion is good though. Still take occasional pain med. Hope to hear more from others beyond 3 months. Can I expect to continue to heal? Getting a bit concerned that its as good as it gets..
—Rich_Snow

Still in pain after 9 weeks

I'm at the end and hate to take pain pills but have no choice. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I get so depressed. I guess I need friends that have had it done.
—Guest cleta a gladio

Partial knees both done at the same time

My surgery, both knees, has only been about 2 weeks now. I had PT a few times at the hospital and a few times at home. My thing, when I lay on bed and try to stretch, it hurts and almost feels like my knees are going to break.
—Guest Vic

Back after bilaterals

Went back to work three months after bilateral total knee replacement. They were done four days apart but during same hospital admission. I work 12 hour shifts. Normally 3/wk. My first week back I worked two days. Now I am working 3 days/wk every other day so my knees can rest. I wore ted hose first 2 wks back at work. I have done well. I am tired. My knees feel stiff some times. My hardest thing to do is get up from chair or step up without something to hold on to. I have been very diligent with my physical therapy. I have been using exercycle, stepper, sled, weights and pool since 2 months post op. I am now looking forward to getting my own Nu step type equipment in my home.
—Guest Cheryl

Knee replacement

I had knee replacement six weeks ago. Worst pain I have every experienced. Had PT and my flexion is great but still high pain meds to make it thru the day. Can't sleep at night. The doctor says it will get better but the pain is not showing me that. Never would I go thru this again -- my left knee is bad but I said forget it.
—Guest sandra

Still pain 1 year after TKR

I had TKR 11-3-10 I still have continuous pain around the front of my knee. My Dr. referred me to another Ortho dr. after 3 visits he sent me back to dr. #1. Still having lots of pain, now going to pain Dr. I work in a warehouse, walking constantly, I have worked approx. 13 weeks since surgery. I am very diappointed in my outcome so far. My left knee needs done, but I am not going to have it done, I am too afraid, one bad knee is enough. I would never have had it done had I known it would be like this.
—Guest Nancy

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.
—bowlingbun

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
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