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

Responses: 114


Updated January 09, 2011

If you had knee replacement surgery, that means you had time off from work too. One of your goals following knee replacement surgery was undoubtedly to return to work as soon as possible. How difficult was it to recuperate after surgery and prepare for your return to work?

How long did you take off from work? Did you return to work on schedule or ahead of schedule? What motivated you to get back to work as soon as possible? Share your experience with regard to returning to work after knee replacement surgery -- and share with others what you learned that may make the experience less difficult for them.


Had tkr 5 weeks ago. Am only at 95 rom and -3. Am still on hydrocodone every 4 hrs. Still get very weary quickly. Is it best to do stretching or strengthening to get your rom to "normal"?
—Guest Debi


It's been 6 weeks now since I had total knee replacement on my right leg. Only been given one lot of pt. I've actually now got one on 4th march. Leg bends when sitting no problem but when walking hardly bends at all. It's stiff on the outside and behind my knee and I moisturize my scar but when cream dries it's stiff again. Sleeping isn't a problem now, can sleep on both sides just bend your leg slightly and sort of guard it with other leg. It helps I take diclofenac and butrans patches for the pain. Don't know how I'm going to go back to work in two weeks.
—Guest maureen

Frustrating experience

Operation 5/2/2013 still in pain. See PT twice a week, without him I think I would probably overdose. My knee clicks a lot and he tells me I will never be able to kneel on it again. Bit hard trying to get off floor after exercise. Must admit pain has eased off and can drive the manual but at the end of the day the leg will never be the same as the old one and I will never get other leg done.Just the most frustrating experience ever. My family are sick of me and avoid me like the plague. I still have friends though and thats all I need.
—Guest p davis

5 surgeries

I am now looking at my 4th left knee. I was 56 when all this started and will be 59 in two months.... I am in constant pain and now have to use a wheel chair for long areas needed to walk. This also caused my left hip needed to be replaced because of my whole body shifted from trying to walk with a walker. This has been my biggest nightmare. Three total revisions, one left hip replacement. New revision will be on April. 19th. I am a crippled now, physically and growing to be mentally..
—Guest Becca

Back To work

5 months post op, 3 wks back to work. Working 2 half days a week. Then increasing by adding a day each month then adding one 8 hr day to a 3 day work week. Should be gradual. I'm on my feet all day 8 hrs. Knee feels really good at this point some swelling at end of 4 hr shift. Does not like standing for long periods of time. Had 16 weeks of PT POST OP. SOO WORTH IT. When I'm not working, I go on min 30 min. walks per day. Rt kr leg is just sore. Hamstrings clear down to ankles just sore, weak, getting used to using unused muscles. I think it will definitely be a full year b 4 back 2 normal.
—Guest Rad Tech

Going back to work

I was out of work 4 1/2 months with my TKR, was still having pain, but due to finances I had no choice. I'm 67 and not use to not doing something however by the end of each day of work my leg hurts to the point I wished I had stayed home. Also during my partial recovery from the TKR I developed a full thickness macular hole in my right eye and when I ordered the equipment I needed for that recovery I was told that they had a lot of request from patients that had recently had a TKR, is there a connection?
—Guest dgd


TKR 5 months ago and still having as much pain as before the surgery. Numb sensation on side of leg, swelling that goes all the way to my foot. I was checked for a blood clot which was negative. Can't get a decent nights sleep due to the intense pain and itching around the knee cap. The Dr. did an X-ray in the operating room and told me the other knee was worse than the one he did the surgery on and that it will also have to be replaced. One thing I'm concerned about is that my knee cap now is much wider than it ever was, it looks like it belongs on a football player and is at least 2 1/2 times larger than the other and my leg feels like it is now longer which makes me feel like I'm walking lopsided. I've never experienced such pain in my life and will put off having anything done to the other one as long as possible even at the risk of it breaking which I don't understand as the Dr. said is a possibility if not done. Also it seems that there is a run on TKRs lately.
—Guest dgd

Harder than I thought

Had left TKR on Feb 26th, 2013. Had a set back when I tried to go off pain meds too soon. At 3 1/2 weeks, I am walking with a cane. Still have pain and numbness on outside of knee and swelling. Doing PT 3x week and that helps with ROM and learning "walking" skills. I was NOT prepared for the amount of pain involved nor the exhaustion. I am self-employed (with a partner), but doubt I will be able to do full days upon my return to work in 3 weeks. I am a distance cyclist and I worry about being able to ride this summer, though that was a big issue for me in having the surgery. I am not inclined to get the other knee done (severe osteoarthritis) anytime soon. Wish I had been given a clearer idea of what post-op would be like.
—Guest CaCaCol

2 weeks post op

Had tkr right knee 2/25/13 did my homework had a wonderful surgeon. Day of surgery had a scare with my heart had a cardio cath the next morning. Very lucky everything was good. However it slowed my rehab 2 days. I was able to get on a cpm machine 2nd night holding a sandbag on my groin incision. That helped. Started pt next day went home on the 4th morning. Home pt going well, lots of hard work but I am moving around very well. Hope to move to a cane in a few days. Pain is manageable with meds only real problem is night time. Sounds like that will too get better. Good luck to everyone, keep working hard. Use it or lose it!
—Guest Sherry W


I'm recovering from my 3rd tkr. This was the worst surgery of my life. THERE'S NO WAY I'LL DO THE OTHER KNEE AFTER ALL THIS PAIN
—Guest SHIRL


The pain is unbearable, I cannot sleep at night. Every way I turn is uncomfortable. Pain runs all the way down front of my leg and a constant pain on my knee cap. On the side of my knee it's numb and swollen and dr will not give me anything for all this pain which is causing my blood pressure to elevate. The swelling, pain, numbness is about to send me looking and seeking legal advice. It seems that he cared before the surgery, now he did the surgery seem he ain't concerned how much pain I am in and I am very upset, at least I am glad to see more than me is having problems. My dr. seems to feel it's only me having problems. Here to tell you the last he hasn't heard from me. I think he wants me to suffer, the way I have been treated by him and his staff.
—Guest Bobbie white

TKR Left

Surgery Feb 12, 2013. Pain almost constant. Sleep is barely achieved r/t painful leg cramps and deep throbbing. Pain tolerance high until now...pray it lessens soon! Flexion at 90 degrees and can straighten alright but standing long is rough. Feels good to have a stable knee again...the pain will be worth it!

TKR in both knees

I'm 50, had rt. knee done 5 yrs. ago and lt. 1 yr ago. Be diligent on PT, I went for 3 months. I'm spinning, swimming and now doing yoga! I hope my dr. at my follow up appt. gives me the thumbs up. You have to listen to your body, but I am addicted to all 3 activities.
—Guest Linda Hostetter

Total Knee Replacement

I had a TKR on 12/14/12 and back to work 1/14/13. When I "hit the wall" around 2 PM I would go home. This didn't last long. I knew the secret of success was to get right to therapy. The hospital staff didn't let any grass grow under my feet. When I went home after a few days I immediately started P.T. 3 times a week with the local Visiting Nurses. I had THE BEST therapist. I worked hard under his direction and made sure I used plenty of ice throughout the day. It was important to perform the exercises he taught me during the day. Right after my one month post-op doctor's visit, I was discharged from the Visiting Nurses and began out-patient therapy with another incredible PT - saw him twice a week for 6 weeks for strengthening and endurance. I now continue my own program at the gym using what I learned. I have no pain to speak of, maybe occasional stiffness but that is going away as I heal. This is the best thing I ever did! But you must work at it every single day!
—Guest lucycopper

Total Left Knee Replacement

I had my knee surgery in September of 2012, I still have alot of pain in my knee and lower leg, and swelling in the lower calf of the leg. I have had a doppler done on the lower leg, to rule out any blood clots, also my leg that had the surgery is 1cm. longer than the other leg. My problem is now, I am lopsided when I walk, I guess I will need a shoe lift for the other foot, so I don't feel so lopsided. Has anyone ever had this happen to them, let me know, and what was done for it, please don't say surgery again, as I don't think I can through that again, as I am 82 years young, ha,ha.
—Guest Marion
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