Climbing Stairs After TKR

Posted by babette @babette, Oct 28, 2018

I'm a little over 3 months out from my R TKR and have a great deal of pain going upstairs and can't even attempt going down. How long did it take you before you could use the stairs without the "step together step" method? What was most helpful in getting you to that point? Thanks in advance.

Hi @babette, I hate stairs. And I totally get your concern. I had a right TKR in April 2017. We have stairs front and back so they made me climb before I was released from the hospital… but it was a step/stop kind of climb. I wish I could remember how long before I could do stairs normally. Going up has always been easier than coming down for me. I know that I was going up in a normal way after the first month because I had home PT and he made me practice each session. However, going down was harder. I blame it on the fact that my left knee is still pretty bad. I'm going to have a left TKR this coming February. So… even now, going down, I either turn around and go down as if it were a ladder, or I do the step/step method. I CAN go down stairs normally, but unless its important – at an event or something – I just do it the way that is most comfortable. I believe that @gailfaith and @contentandwell have both had TKR's. I tagged them to see if they may chime in with some tips. Just keep at it. Sometimes progress is so slow that we don't realize it, then all of a sudden there's a breakthrough. Hope that happens for you.

@debbraw

Hi @babette, I hate stairs. And I totally get your concern. I had a right TKR in April 2017. We have stairs front and back so they made me climb before I was released from the hospital… but it was a step/stop kind of climb. I wish I could remember how long before I could do stairs normally. Going up has always been easier than coming down for me. I know that I was going up in a normal way after the first month because I had home PT and he made me practice each session. However, going down was harder. I blame it on the fact that my left knee is still pretty bad. I'm going to have a left TKR this coming February. So… even now, going down, I either turn around and go down as if it were a ladder, or I do the step/step method. I CAN go down stairs normally, but unless its important – at an event or something – I just do it the way that is most comfortable. I believe that @gailfaith and @contentandwell have both had TKR's. I tagged them to see if they may chime in with some tips. Just keep at it. Sometimes progress is so slow that we don't realize it, then all of a sudden there's a breakthrough. Hope that happens for you.

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@debbraw Thanks for this validation. It helps to hear that someone else has faced this challenge, even though I'm sorry you have.

I'm going to have to have my L knee done and have no idea how I will manage our stairs if my R knee is still this bad. My R knee is no where near ready to be the "good" leg!

Thanks again.

@babette – I believe you should just do something nice for yourself and wait to see how you feel tomorrow or next week. I kept a little journal after my right knee surgery and I looked back at it today thinking I might find something about stair climbing. At about 3 months I wrote "Really discouraged. I know they tell me I'm making progress but I feel like I will always be awkward and hurting." For what its worth… We've probably all been there. Wishing you strength and patience!

@debbra Thank again — I can't tell you how much reading that meant to me! Discouraged has been my entire frame of mind for at least a couple of weeks. I've been very hard on myself, comparing to others, etc. I have a friend who says "Let patience do her perfect work." Indeed!

@debbraw

Hi @babette, I hate stairs. And I totally get your concern. I had a right TKR in April 2017. We have stairs front and back so they made me climb before I was released from the hospital… but it was a step/stop kind of climb. I wish I could remember how long before I could do stairs normally. Going up has always been easier than coming down for me. I know that I was going up in a normal way after the first month because I had home PT and he made me practice each session. However, going down was harder. I blame it on the fact that my left knee is still pretty bad. I'm going to have a left TKR this coming February. So… even now, going down, I either turn around and go down as if it were a ladder, or I do the step/step method. I CAN go down stairs normally, but unless its important – at an event or something – I just do it the way that is most comfortable. I believe that @gailfaith and @contentandwell have both had TKR's. I tagged them to see if they may chime in with some tips. Just keep at it. Sometimes progress is so slow that we don't realize it, then all of a sudden there's a breakthrough. Hope that happens for you.

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@debbraw @babette unfortunately my memory is foggy. I do generally, even now, hold the handrail but can manage without it if I am carrying things. I am quite sure that by 3 months I was still going slowly, but in the normal one foot after the other way.
Going down was definitely more difficult than going up, and I always reminded myself of my therapist’s saying, “up with the good, down with the bad”.
I know I will never again run up and down stairs like I was able to before but part of that may just be getting older.
Babette, maybe you should put off your TKR a little longer. I put mine off, but for me I just was not ready for another hospital stay and recovery six months after my transplant.
JK

@jk Thanks for your post. I'm not having my L TKR anytime soon! In fact, I'll be having it at a different hospital and with a different surgeon so I need to meet with him first and get his take on things. And he's a rock star so I'm sure there will be a wait to see him and that's not a bad thing. Yes, my therapist also says "up with the good down with the bad." Part of my frustration is that my quadricep is strong yet I still can't do this. Back to patience. 🙂

@babette

@jk Thanks for your post. I'm not having my L TKR anytime soon! In fact, I'll be having it at a different hospital and with a different surgeon so I need to meet with him first and get his take on things. And he's a rock star so I'm sure there will be a wait to see him and that's not a bad thing. Yes, my therapist also says "up with the good down with the bad." Part of my frustration is that my quadricep is strong yet I still can't do this. Back to patience. 🙂

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@babette I was so desperate when I had my first TKR that I took a doctor who seemed to have a good rating on one of those sites like healthgrades, and he was the first one who could do it. I was in tremendous pain and limping badly.
That's great that the new surgeon is so highly thought of. Have you talked to him about your problems with your first TKR?
JK

Babette: I am at almost 9 weeks post TKR, and still have some issues with stairs. Going up is tiring, but not really painful or a problem, even though I hold on to the railing for safety. Going down depends a lot on when I last exercised. I have access to an indoor salt water pool, and after those sessions I can absolutely walk down quite easily. Other times not so much. However, I had arthro clean-out surgery on the same knee 12 months ago, and even after 10 months I was unable to handle downstairs at all, so for me the current progress is very encouraging. Hang in there!!!

@ellerbracke

Babette: I am at almost 9 weeks post TKR, and still have some issues with stairs. Going up is tiring, but not really painful or a problem, even though I hold on to the railing for safety. Going down depends a lot on when I last exercised. I have access to an indoor salt water pool, and after those sessions I can absolutely walk down quite easily. Other times not so much. However, I had arthro clean-out surgery on the same knee 12 months ago, and even after 10 months I was unable to handle downstairs at all, so for me the current progress is very encouraging. Hang in there!!!

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@ellerbracke What is arthro clean-out surgery? Is it outpatient? My surgeon said he could snip some scar tissue to give me more flex, is this the same thing? If so how long was your recovery?
JK

JK… What I meant is I had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus, moderate arthritis on tibia and under kneecap, and some torn cartilage inside knee. Was supposed to take care of pain until eventual TKR 5 to 10 years out. Did not resolve issue, though. Standard PT, some pain relief, but not nearly enough. 5 Supartz injections, voltaren gel, meloxicam, and finally cortisone injection that lasted all of 51 hours convinced me to bite the bullet and do the replacement (11 months after initial procedure). I got my timeline wrong in the earlier post. It’s now almost 7 weeks (not 9), and I’m already feeling better than I ever did with the first surgery. Nothing to do with scar tissue, though.

@ellerbracke

JK… What I meant is I had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus, moderate arthritis on tibia and under kneecap, and some torn cartilage inside knee. Was supposed to take care of pain until eventual TKR 5 to 10 years out. Did not resolve issue, though. Standard PT, some pain relief, but not nearly enough. 5 Supartz injections, voltaren gel, meloxicam, and finally cortisone injection that lasted all of 51 hours convinced me to bite the bullet and do the replacement (11 months after initial procedure). I got my timeline wrong in the earlier post. It’s now almost 7 weeks (not 9), and I’m already feeling better than I ever did with the first surgery. Nothing to do with scar tissue, though.

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@ellerbracke I had meniscus surgery on both knees prior to having TKRs. I read recently that they are not sure that they do much good though, and although they did give me some temporary relief, they did not forestall the TKRs.
Happy that you are feeling better, that's a reasonable amount of time. I am sure it will continue to get better, and make sure you stick with your PT at home.
JK

@contentandwell

@ellerbracke I had meniscus surgery on both knees prior to having TKRs. I read recently that they are not sure that they do much good though, and although they did give me some temporary relief, they did not forestall the TKRs.
Happy that you are feeling better, that's a reasonable amount of time. I am sure it will continue to get better, and make sure you stick with your PT at home.
JK

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I decided to have a TKR for two reasons. Long walks were painful and going downstairs was painful. I am 12 weeks out. Going downstairs is stil painful but now going upstairs is more painful than going down, and it didn’t hurt at all pre TKR. As for longer walks, they cause days of no sleep pain. I am hoping this will resolve. On the bright side trotting on my horse doesn’t seem to bother my knee but then it didn’t before the TKR. I haven’t tried cantering yet and I was starting to get a little knee pain in one direction at the Canter.
I am hoping this will resolve but actually going upstairs seems to be getting worse not better, I had excellent physical therapy and can bend my knee almost entirely, though kneeling ion the knee is nor possible because the knee itself hurts too much. I was hoping to do this in a month to garden…. seems unlikely.

@jeannieww

I decided to have a TKR for two reasons. Long walks were painful and going downstairs was painful. I am 12 weeks out. Going downstairs is stil painful but now going upstairs is more painful than going down, and it didn’t hurt at all pre TKR. As for longer walks, they cause days of no sleep pain. I am hoping this will resolve. On the bright side trotting on my horse doesn’t seem to bother my knee but then it didn’t before the TKR. I haven’t tried cantering yet and I was starting to get a little knee pain in one direction at the Canter.
I am hoping this will resolve but actually going upstairs seems to be getting worse not better, I had excellent physical therapy and can bend my knee almost entirely, though kneeling ion the knee is nor possible because the knee itself hurts too much. I was hoping to do this in a month to garden…. seems unlikely.

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Every month gets better. I was told by my PT to watch my form and keep walking up and downstairs to strengthen up muscles around knee. So don't avoid stair climbs and descents. It will get easier!

@jeannieww

I decided to have a TKR for two reasons. Long walks were painful and going downstairs was painful. I am 12 weeks out. Going downstairs is stil painful but now going upstairs is more painful than going down, and it didn’t hurt at all pre TKR. As for longer walks, they cause days of no sleep pain. I am hoping this will resolve. On the bright side trotting on my horse doesn’t seem to bother my knee but then it didn’t before the TKR. I haven’t tried cantering yet and I was starting to get a little knee pain in one direction at the Canter.
I am hoping this will resolve but actually going upstairs seems to be getting worse not better, I had excellent physical therapy and can bend my knee almost entirely, though kneeling ion the knee is nor possible because the knee itself hurts too much. I was hoping to do this in a month to garden…. seems unlikely.

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@jeannieww I agree with @javajude. If you stick with it, it will get better. I really had a lot of trouble on long walks but that had actually gotten somewhat better before my TKR because I exercised it a lot. Now I can walk for a very long time. We were on vacation in October and I walked something like so much every day but one. It felt great to be able to do that.
As I said before, stairs took longer but now they are easy. I do not have quite the amount of flex I would like but I am ambivalent about having lysis to fix that. I think I can probably live with what I have. It's probably around 115 now. I am going to a different ortho tomorrow, for cortisone in my hips (bursitis), so I will ask her if she will measure it for me while I am there.
JK

@jeannieww

I decided to have a TKR for two reasons. Long walks were painful and going downstairs was painful. I am 12 weeks out. Going downstairs is stil painful but now going upstairs is more painful than going down, and it didn’t hurt at all pre TKR. As for longer walks, they cause days of no sleep pain. I am hoping this will resolve. On the bright side trotting on my horse doesn’t seem to bother my knee but then it didn’t before the TKR. I haven’t tried cantering yet and I was starting to get a little knee pain in one direction at the Canter.
I am hoping this will resolve but actually going upstairs seems to be getting worse not better, I had excellent physical therapy and can bend my knee almost entirely, though kneeling ion the knee is nor possible because the knee itself hurts too much. I was hoping to do this in a month to garden…. seems unlikely.

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I can totally agree with you regarding the major problem with kneeling. I just bought my 3rd different set of knee pads, trying to find one that’s both soft and comfortable and not too cumbersome to wear and put on. As long as I keep my body weight on the tibia and don’t lean forward on the knee, I can manage some short stretches of kneeling without pads when pulling weeds. For cleaning bathroom floors by hand, I found that simply triple-folding the bathroom rugs (that you need to move out of the way anyway), and using those as soft support, works perfectly. Stairs will never be my favorite, but at about 6 months they do not really give me problems most days. Weather changes, or overdoing things, sometimes still make it painful. But considering that before the TKR it was totally impossible for me to walk down stairs normally, or walk down any but the most gentle downslope, I’ll take what I have now!

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