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Knee replacement people - how long was your road to recovery?

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  • Knee replacement people - how long was your road to recovery?

    Part frustration and part general enquiry here, and I do understand that everyone's journey is as individual as they are.


    I had my replacement 24 weeks ago, and quite expected at this stage to be 'cured' but I'm not...I do have good days, but find myself still struggling to balance doing all the things, and avoiding getting swelling and pain. Always is painful getting up and getting going if I have sat a while, but will usually ease up when I get going, which is frustrating but it is what it is.

    Main frustrations are in the saddle, I sold my 16hh, on a good day, mare before my OP, and got back in the saddle at 12 weeks onto what has turned out to be my new horse, a hair off 17hh TB. Riding him is great, I think I could sit on him and a loose rein walk all day, but starting to actually work can be painful. It doesn't take long before I start to feel it if I start to gather him up and engage everything. Biggest bug bear right now is posting the trot...confession time Western Dressage rider here, for the last 6 years, after coming back to the saddle after a major fall....all the horses I have ridden since then have had beautiful western gaits, and I spent most of my time sitting. Chuck has major lofty gaits, and posting seems like a great idea, but I have lost my muscle memory it seems. My lower leg seems to have a mind of its own, and when I manage to quiten it down, it starts to hurt after a short time. For some reason dismounting has become an issue, first time I went to dismount it was embarrassing, I thought I was going to be stuck, could not throw that leg over the back no matter how much I tried...Coach had to physically help the leg over. Things have improved a little, but still not elegant.

    I guess I'm just down a little, so share your recovery stories, am I being unrealistic in expecting things to be GREAT, when they are not? Confession time though, did show two weeks ago, warm up on Friday, then two days showing, 4 tests a day, 2 Intro, 2 Basic, despite saving some top shelf pain pills for the weekend, the last test on Sunday, I should of scratched from, definitely a test to far, and the score reflected that.
    "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

    "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

  • #2
    Have you talked with your pt about your needs and frustrations? I know knees are way more complicated than hips. After my hip replacements I told my pt I wanted to ride again. He knew enough about riding to be able to help me train up to do all the motions so I could safely mount, post and dismount. It was well worth the time and effort.

    Comment


    • #3
      There are quite a few of us at the hunt club who have had knee replacements (I had both done at the same time) ---our experience is similar to yours ---good days and bad ---and most of us have some swelling, heat, or discomfort after riding, no matter how long it has been (4 years for me). After lots and lots of riding (posting, as you say), I'm stiff and sore and my knees feel a bit hot. This happens if I walk on pavement for a long, long time too.

      I suggest you make an appointment with your surgeon for an xray and evaluation ---you may be right on track or you may have something going on that he/she needs to address --if nothing else, more PT. But be patient with yourself. In reality you had "a leg amputated and replaced," ---you will get better, but gradually. I think it was 6 mo before I started t "forget" I'd had my knees done and lived a normal life --although I still wear protective knee pads when I hunt in case I hit a tree with my knee at speed.

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      • #4
        I will be at 3 years in July. This is my experience and yours will be different. It wasn't until 16 weeks that every living moment wasn't focused on my knee. At that point, I could get out of bed and start moving and not think knee, knee, knee. But I still had that kind of leap of faith feeling at the first step that things might give way. At about 1 year, I noticed that the swelling was reduced. I still have no feeling on the outside of my knee because they cut a nerve that feeds that area. The numbness can feel like swelling. I never will be able to kneel on that knee without a lot of padding. That is normal for many patients.
        My timeline as well as I can remember it:
        6 weeks-got on horse and walked around
        10-12 weeks-started trotting and posting but it was hard; couldn't wear half chaps because of the swelling. Was hitting the NSAIDS
        6 months-beginning to feel normal on a horse but not much muscle stamina in my leg.
        1 year-pretty good
        2 years-some residual weird things like I can't rotate my foot in to get my stirrup. Often, I have to reach down with my hand to hold the stirrup to get my foot in.

        I am OCD about using the exercise bike every day even if it's only 15 minutes. If I don't use it, all the muscles and tissue around my knee stiffen up. I'm reminded of that scene in The Wizard of OZ when the scarecrow asks for his oilcan. That's what biking does for my knee.

        About 6 months after the surgery, I hit the gym to get stronger. Your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and just about everything on your operated side is now weak. Like super weak. Like baby weak. And out of balance. I have spent over 2 years at the gym working with a personal trainer to get stronger and address my imbalances. When I first started after the surgery, I couldn't do 10 clamshells on the operated side. I couldn't squat. And the quad on that side was useless. Now after 2 years of work, I'm pretty symmetrical between my legs with good range of motion but still find that my "good" leg tries to do most of the work in the saddle.

        IMHO, I think most people suffer in their long term recovery because insurance companies only pay for so much PT and their guidelines are that the patient can walk, can go up and down stairs, and can get a bike pedal to go all the way around. One needs so much more to get back to being any kind of athlete. So don't despair. You're not abnormal. It's an incredible frustrating experience to lose a year of your riding life. And even now, I can't do that show schedule that you just did. 2 days of intense riding in a row will do me in!

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          stryder i was signed off from PT at 12 weeks so now I'm on my own.

          Foxglove, WOW, having had one done, I can't imagine both at once! I have to book a follow up with the surgeon for May, best get onto that one. That amputated and put back on is a scary thought, but just what my coach was saying!

          MidlifeCrisis thanks so much for that long and helpful post, I will definitely start using my bike everyday, I have been slacking now I'm generally more active, but forget that non weight bearing movement is still beneficial.


          I will be nicer to myself, it is nice being in a situation where you can believe every day is going to get better, rather than before the OP, when every ride every day was getting worse.
          "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

          "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KBC View Post
            stryder i was signed off from PT at 12 weeks so now I'm on my own.

            Foxglove, WOW, having had one done, I can't imagine both at once! I have to book a follow up with the surgeon for May, best get onto that one. That amputated and put back on is a scary thought, but just what my coach was saying!

            MidlifeCrisis thanks so much for that long and helpful post, I will definitely start using my bike everyday, I have been slacking now I'm generally more active, but forget that non weight bearing movement is still beneficial.


            I will be nicer to myself, it is nice being in a situation where you can believe every day is going to get better, rather than before the OP, when every ride every day was getting worse.

            It may be worth going to PT one more time, even if you have to pay for it yourself. Get the specific exercises that you'll need to be able to ride comfortably, and then do them.

            My dear sister, who can't stand the sight of blood or talk of anything medical, asked whether if my THR was bad. LOL. No, not if you don't think about the fact that they cut off my leg and pounded a big metal spike into my thigh, then screwed the hip to my pelvis. Not bad at all.

            It will continue to get better and better. Doing the small stretches and exercises lets you repair and strengthen the small muscles that keep everything going and allow you to do bigger things comfortably.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              stryder Lol, Paying for it myself is not happening right now.....just paid off new horse, and was Vet day yesterday, all that lovely stuff, including expensive sedation for a float, because the cheap stuff won't work for his lordship.

              Yes, I think it is easy to overlook how much benefit the small stuff gives us. My last couple of lessons I got sent back to 'baby class' which has been fantastic, frank and open conversations about how I suck, and how much of it is physical, how much is bad habits. It's a mixture of both, but they are both gett8 g better.
              "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

              "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I was showing this weekend, had a lesson on Thursday, warm up and prep on Friday, showed Saturday and Sunday. Lots of walking, standing, riding totally exhausting, BUT, suddenly realized that I hadn’t taken a pain pill all weekend. I don’t remember the last show weekend that I wasn’t running on pain pills. It’s a great feeling.
                "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                Comment


                • #9
                  (on the pain pill free weekend).

                  I have not had knee replacement...plenty of other things...but it seems for me that the 6 month mark is when I notice that hey, the pain is gone. Currently almost 6 weeks into a left foot reconstruction and non-weight bearing. At least with a knee replacement you can walk on it from the get-go. I am really coaxing the right side of my body (the weight bearing side) to hang in there for another week or two. I am supposed to get out of the cast and into a boot this week....yeah.

                  Susan



                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have not had a knee replacement but my husbands new knee is now 9 years old. It took him a full year to get back to what he consider normal. Doing his exercises everyday without fail really helped.
                    My brother had one new knee in Oct and the second in Dec and I have told him expect a year before he is 100%.
                    A lot of the pain in my husbands first year was because he would be in a rush to do something and would "revert" back to old habits that his body developed to relieve the pain before the knee replacement. In his case he used to swing his hip to move faster. It takes a very long time to retrain those muscles. My husband is playing hockey, tennis and volleyball and very happy the surgery was done.
                    My brother is also happy. Although he has some pain he can sleep all night. Before the surgery he would wake up almost crying from the pain.
                    I second the PT route. Some times they have a Kinesiologist on staff and they are cheaper to see than the physiotherapist. Make sure you do the exercises they gave you on your previous visits and it will help you keep the muscles working properly. Good luck.

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