What items do I need post TKR during recovery?

Posted by saeternes @saeternes, Nov 5, 2019

Please let me know which of these things you purchased for your TKR recovery, and which were the most valuable. My toilet seat now hits me at the exactly back of the knee (it's pretty tall); is that tall enough? Thanks.

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I don't think you need to spend a lot of money on at home equipment that you may never use again, unless you really want to and have the extra bucks to spare. Stacking firm pillows or stiffer decorative throw pillows or old sofa cushions can be used to elevate the leg in a recliner or in bed. In my case, I spent most of my sitting time in a recliner where I elevated as much as was comfortable, maybe an hour at a time, off and on all day. At night in bed, I slept without elevation, I am a side sleeper most of the time. Of course good sleep will be a challenge the first few weeks no matter what. As far as ice, I had a large flat flexible ice pack housed in a soft cover with a velcro straps that hold it to your knee. I was sent home from the hospital with one for each knee surgery. You just pop it in your freezer when you are not using it. I did ice a lot for the first few weeks. PT said 20 min at a time, I kept my ice pack on for a hour sometimes, as the pack would warm up and melt a bit from body contact and room temperature. I really liked the feel of the ice, so I used it off and on all day as well.
PT also recommended that I get up and walk around for a few minutes each hour during the day rather than sitting/laying in long stretches.
@toctoc – not sure what you meant by "Since bending the knee is a "no,no" I've decided to put that item on the back burner" Unless there is some special surgical problem, bending the knee is encouraged as soon as possible after routine TKR's. Current theory is to get you on your feet and into PT immediately after surgery. The therapist will encourage you to bend your knee well past the zone of discomfort so your muscles and tendons loosen up and you have a better chance of recovering a good range of knee action when you are healed.
Like @sprinrosa64 I found the use of the "leg lifter" long stiff strap with a foot loop was invaluable for getting in and out of bed and recliner for the first few weeks. You can get them for a little over $10 on Amazon, but I got one "free" at the hospital for each of my TKR's. I had to buy a walker (hospital charge) and a cane eventually, but other exercise rehab equipment, my therapist showed me how to replicate with rolled up towels.

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What I meant by a “no-no” is that there should be no bending when the leg is elevated. It was mentioned within the context of the elevation pillows often sold. Those pillows generally have a bend and are not just a simple triangular wedge. The point is the knee should reach maximum extension and stretch and heal properly. BTW this will be my second TKR. The first one was six years ago.

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@sprinrosa64

I have had 3 TKR and I used the ice machines but would use small water bottles frozen instead of ice, always having back up ones in freezer, Also one device that I can not imagine not having , it is a long strap with a loop at each end , so you can grip it with your hand and the other end goes over your foot so you can easily lift ypur leg in and out of bed or a chair. Not sure what clinical name is but it is a must. This thing was my best friend until my quad muscle was ready to take over . BEST OF LUCK

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Thanks for the tip. I just bought one via Amazon.

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These are some great ideas. My surgery is Thursday this week. I still have a couple items coming from Amazon-the leg lifter and a step stool. My bed is rather high and saw a video on using a step stool to help. There are so many videos on YouTube it's amazing. Thanks for all the ideas.

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In reply to –
"What I meant by a “no-no” is that there should be no bending when the leg is elevated. It was mentioned within the context of the elevation pillows often sold. Those pillows generally have a bend and are not just a simple triangular wedge. The point is the knee should reach maximum extension and stretch and heal properly. BTW this will be my second TKR. The first one was six years ago."
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According to my therapist, the reason for leg elevation after surgery is to prevent or reduce swelling and lesson risk of blood clots. He said the most important thing is to get the knee/leg above heart level. He said most people do not use enough height on their support. If you have enough pillows, your leg will end up fairly straight, but he never said anything about a slight knee bend being any problem. I believe that doing one's prescribed specific daily exercises faithfully will promote the needed stretch, so the main reason for elevation is for swelling reduction, not as a stretch. Of course, It can be used that way if you want to, but that is not the main purpose of elevating the leg in a TKR in early weeks.

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I cannot post the URL here but if you just go to YouTube and search for "Choosing a wedge pillow after knee surgery
By Total Therapy Solution" the PT in that video explains better than I can the elevation pillow to use and recommended 45 degree angle. I based my previous post on the information obtained at the virtual class given by the hospital where I will have my TKR. Both the nurse and the PT stressed not to bend the knee when it is elevated. I've heard that before. I guess we'll all be following the recommendations of the professionals we trust.

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@toctoc

My surgeon has as optional equipment hand-out: this equipment: VascuTherm Iceless Cold Compression Unit. (expensive rental – minimum- 2 weeks/325 + tax cash only here in California) Unfortunately the system states I cannot post the intended video links so I suggest a search on Vimeo (nice simple video) or a much lengthier video on YouTube.
The positive side of this equipment is that you don't need to deal with ice. (We happen not to have an icemaker connected to our fridge and don't care to be running to the store to buy it and then have to store it.) The other positive side is that it includes a compression program.

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Do you think the cold machine is worth it? Seems like these rentals from the doctor's office are expensive. What if I am still in pain and need it for a few more weeks? I googled these and some of them are really expensive. I am on a budget (less than $200)–I cannot afford $325!. Anything ya'll would recommend?

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@jordansnows

Do you think the cold machine is worth it? Seems like these rentals from the doctor's office are expensive. What if I am still in pain and need it for a few more weeks? I googled these and some of them are really expensive. I am on a budget (less than $200)–I cannot afford $325!. Anything ya'll would recommend?

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Greetings @jordansnows and welcome to Connect. Are you getting ready for TKR surgery? This is a great place to learn from others who can share their personal experiences. I had my 2nd and last TKR last summer. This time I bought 2 Vive Health knee ice packs. That way I could always have one "on the ready". This one works like a knee brace so you can walk with it if necessary. And they will fit your budget.

Another thought to pass along. Here in our area we have churches and even banks who accept no longer needed recovery assist equipment. You don't have to pay for them or rent them…….just bring them back clean when you no longer need
them. And when you are back better than normal with your new knee, you can make a donation of a shower stool or
toilet riser so you can help others.

Would you be able to share the details of your TKR? Will it be Robotic? And in case it is coming up soon, please remember that the pre-surgery exercises are extremely important. They will reduce your recovery time considerably.

Is there anything else you need?

May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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@jordansnows

Do you think the cold machine is worth it? Seems like these rentals from the doctor's office are expensive. What if I am still in pain and need it for a few more weeks? I googled these and some of them are really expensive. I am on a budget (less than $200)–I cannot afford $325!. Anything ya'll would recommend?

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5 weeks post op from second TKR and using icing machine 1-2 times a day I purchased from Amazon- polar products. It works well and totally worth the investment- a bit over $200. After first TKR I realized importance of icing to control swelling and facilitate Rehab. I expect to keep using for about 3 months on a regular basis as rehab progresses. It takes a up to a year to recover from TKR and Icing after strenuous activities helped.

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@jordansnows

Do you think the cold machine is worth it? Seems like these rentals from the doctor's office are expensive. What if I am still in pain and need it for a few more weeks? I googled these and some of them are really expensive. I am on a budget (less than $200)–I cannot afford $325!. Anything ya'll would recommend?

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Yes I used for my reverse total shoulder and total knee replacements ! You won’t use hardly any pain medication, in my experience. Look into buying one might be cheaper. They are called cryocuff cuff machines and you can get them for $200 or less get one that plugs in wall. Good luck

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