Truth about Total Knee Replacements

Posted by rickraleigh @rickraleigh, Jul 31, 2021

Your new knee will never feel as good as your original old one

For most people it takes a full year to get most of the benefits of the surgery

Many people experience a clicking sound when walking for years or forever after the surgery

You should do physical therapy for a year after the surgery to get the best range of motion results even though your therapist will discharge you after several months.

There are no studies which will tell you what activities you can do after TKR. Is doubles tennis OK? Golf? What you read online varies. There are no clear answers.

Many surgeons are finished with you after the surgery. If you have issues with the surgery's aftermath, they may not be that helpful.

The scar is big, and no amount of ointment (vitamin E, etc.) will substantially reduce it.

Good news: If you had bad knee problems before the surgery your knee will feel a lot better after the surgery.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Joint Replacements group.

More truth, no doctor mention 20percent of TKR have mid to major problems after. No doctor mentions the risks, other than possible infection or some stiffness. No doctor mentions this is a tough possible live changing surgery and not always for the better. Lets be honest if you are a lucky one it works, unlucky and you curse the day you did it

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If surgeons told you everything, no one would have the operation!!

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I've been lucky to have successful TKR's on both knees, and while I agree with a lot of the comments in the first post, I will say that my scars after 2 yr and almost 1 yr separate surgeries are negligible, just a thin pale hairline down the center of the knee. I won't scare anyone if I wear shorts!

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TOTALLY AGREE. SURGEONS HAVE QUITE POOR FOLLOW UP POST SURGERY. I HAVE 2 TKRs – different surgeons. BOTH SURGERIES WERE "EASY" FOR ME. I AM A GOOD PATIENT AND FOLLOW STEPS TO RECOVERY. I AM PLAYING SPORTS BUT MY 2ND TKR AFFECTED A NERVE/Muscle (CUT?); LEG IS SWOLLEN BUT NOT PAINFUL (2 Yrs. out). AND I FEEL MY BODY IS NOW PITCHED FORWARD. SURGEON LISTENS BUT OFFERS NO HELP OR REAL GUIDANCE OR INSIGHT. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE #1 HOSPITAL FOR TKR. (WELL…I THINK NOT!?!). THE PEOPLE ARE "nice" BUT NO INTEREST IN MAXIMIZING POST SURGERY RESULTS. SHOULD I SEE A DIFFERENT SURGEON TO SEE IF HE/SHE CAN FINISH THE JOB? (i.e. maximum recovery results?). DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO TURN….

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@libertyusa

TOTALLY AGREE. SURGEONS HAVE QUITE POOR FOLLOW UP POST SURGERY. I HAVE 2 TKRs – different surgeons. BOTH SURGERIES WERE "EASY" FOR ME. I AM A GOOD PATIENT AND FOLLOW STEPS TO RECOVERY. I AM PLAYING SPORTS BUT MY 2ND TKR AFFECTED A NERVE/Muscle (CUT?); LEG IS SWOLLEN BUT NOT PAINFUL (2 Yrs. out). AND I FEEL MY BODY IS NOW PITCHED FORWARD. SURGEON LISTENS BUT OFFERS NO HELP OR REAL GUIDANCE OR INSIGHT. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE #1 HOSPITAL FOR TKR. (WELL…I THINK NOT!?!). THE PEOPLE ARE "nice" BUT NO INTEREST IN MAXIMIZING POST SURGERY RESULTS. SHOULD I SEE A DIFFERENT SURGEON TO SEE IF HE/SHE CAN FINISH THE JOB? (i.e. maximum recovery results?). DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO TURN….

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When I had my last 3 hip replacement surgeries, once the surgeon determined that the implant was successful, and I still had back and knee pain, I was referred to a rehabilitation center for physical therapy. He explained nicely that it is his job to put the parts in properly, but my job, in conjunction with a physical therapist, to make sure it works as well as it can.
I went to not just a PT in a "cookie cutter" practice, but someone who actually did a thorough evaluation of my body, gait, posture and listened to me. She explained that I had been limping/compensating for years for the bad joints, and needed to learn how to use the new ones, much the same way and amputee needs to learn to use a prosthesis. Then she designed a custom PT program that included land and water therapy, gait training, daily exercises.

That was 10 years ago, and now any pain comes from progressing arthritis or doing something I shouldn't. Do you think you could benefit from work with a good PT?
Sue

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It's been almost three years since I had TKR. Two months after surgery, I developed a Baker's cyst and couldn't progress with bending the knee. Doctor drained it twice, but didn't want to because of risk of infection. Like you say, surgeon is basically finished with you after surgery. Cyst did not go away, I saw three other doctors, and it's also true other doctors don't want anything to do with aftermath problems, and tell you to go back to original surgeon. I did, this past week, and he gave me a cortisone shot in the cyst to see if that makes it go away. Meanwhile, I'm still very disappointed in the pitiful bend I have with that knee.

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Knees don't always feel better after a TKR. According to my Sports Med Orthopedic doc, 25% of TKR patients are unsatisfied with the surgery. Unfortunately, I'm one of them. I'm five years post surgery and have had nothing but more pain with mine. I have a torn (or completely ruptured) quadricep tendon, bursitis and possible nerve damage from the femoral block. Walking is more painful now than before the surgery. Thankfully, I'm in the minority. But it is a big surgery, so give it plenty of consideration before moving forward.

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I am 63 now. I had right ('14)THR felt 90% better immediately. Both knees needed to be replaced. My left most painful joint but he wanted to do right (2016)first because of my hip replacement. I was actually able to play pickleball after recovery with all this and bad left knee. But when I had TKR of left my mobility is gone for activities. Feels great but no biking, court sports and walking over a mile is hard. Some pain back in right knee cap while prone. So definitely give and take. But happy pain and drugs gone!
He did a great job on my incisions.

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@lk3xs

I am 63 now. I had right ('14)THR felt 90% better immediately. Both knees needed to be replaced. My left most painful joint but he wanted to do right (2016)first because of my hip replacement. I was actually able to play pickleball after recovery with all this and bad left knee. But when I had TKR of left my mobility is gone for activities. Feels great but no biking, court sports and walking over a mile is hard. Some pain back in right knee cap while prone. So definitely give and take. But happy pain and drugs gone!
He did a great job on my incisions.

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Hi there @lk3xs, good morning. Thanks for including a photo. you are right….that is a very minimalist incision. I am sorry that you lost mobility with your left TKR. Is there no way to stretch it out to accommodate the movement required to participate in your previous activities? Is there scar tissue buildup?

My surgeon also chose to take on the most painful knee first. I am now scheduled for the other knee which lasted 10 years even though it was the most compromised.

Do you have any tips for me as I begin my pre-op exercises and medications?

May you be free to do and be.
Chris

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With all respect and fully understanding there are some people who have negative results from medical procedures…I have had both knees totally replaced with highly positive results. My doctors were informative and followed up with me for several months after the surgery. Physical therapy was painful for a time and recovery went smoothly. These decisions improved my experiences and I did not do them perfectly: 1. Do the pre-surgery exercises and stretches to the best of your ability. Preparing your knee makes a HUGE difference. 2. Plan ahead about who will be your caregiver for the first week after surgery and the second week of care if needed. 3. Watch YouTube videos related to total knee replacement. There are many of them from reputable medical universities and hospitals. I learned how to position my body for sleep following surgery and what to expect each step of the way. 4. After surgery be a good patient, go to p.t., take your meds, ice your knee and wait for the realization that you are walking without pain. I tell everyone who asks that there will come a day when the knee pain drives them to surgery. The pain will override the fears. I wish everyone pain free knees!

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@anncgrl

With all respect and fully understanding there are some people who have negative results from medical procedures…I have had both knees totally replaced with highly positive results. My doctors were informative and followed up with me for several months after the surgery. Physical therapy was painful for a time and recovery went smoothly. These decisions improved my experiences and I did not do them perfectly: 1. Do the pre-surgery exercises and stretches to the best of your ability. Preparing your knee makes a HUGE difference. 2. Plan ahead about who will be your caregiver for the first week after surgery and the second week of care if needed. 3. Watch YouTube videos related to total knee replacement. There are many of them from reputable medical universities and hospitals. I learned how to position my body for sleep following surgery and what to expect each step of the way. 4. After surgery be a good patient, go to p.t., take your meds, ice your knee and wait for the realization that you are walking without pain. I tell everyone who asks that there will come a day when the knee pain drives them to surgery. The pain will override the fears. I wish everyone pain free knees!

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I had the same experience as you @anncgrl. I was actually working on the pre-op exercises before I was able to schedule my right TKR. And during the recovery my surgeon got on my case because I wasn't icing and elevating my leg like he told me too. I was doing it, just not enough and he wanted me doing it if I wasn't exercising or walking. I was fortunate in that I didn't need the meds that were prescribed. I was able to get by with extra strength Tylenol when I had some minor pain.

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@artscaping

Hi there @lk3xs, good morning. Thanks for including a photo. you are right….that is a very minimalist incision. I am sorry that you lost mobility with your left TKR. Is there no way to stretch it out to accommodate the movement required to participate in your previous activities? Is there scar tissue buildup?

My surgeon also chose to take on the most painful knee first. I am now scheduled for the other knee which lasted 10 years even though it was the most compromised.

Do you have any tips for me as I begin my pre-op exercises and medications?

May you be free to do and be.
Chris

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Hi,
I did not have any scar tissue on either knee. You will have nerve sensitivity for months down your calf that goes away. Pains meds before physical therapy and do as much physical therapy as your insurance allows. I had home health come in and he pushed me in the early days but the doctor was surprised what range I had. Ice, ice, ice ! Love my pack with sleeve and velcro wrap. Better than pain medications.
My doctor explained all surgery risk but fortunately or unfortunately 😆, my brother does hospital accreditation. He literally scares me to death about what can happen and ALL the risks of infection. He has me ask about their rates of infection!

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