1 Year After Knee Replacement Surgery

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My one-year anniversary since TKR has arrived. The first few months went by so slowly while I was consumed with my rehabilitation.

After my formal therapy was over, time began to speed up again and it is hard to believe that it has been a year. A year ago I was in severe pain, taking pain medicine, icing my knee regularly and wondering why I was torturing myself with range of motion exercise.

My doctor had straightened my leg and I was learning to walk without a limp. Now I am able to walk normally without thinking about how to step and I no longer favor my knee doing simple tasks like walking downhill or down stairs.

I am able to engage in my favorite activities without being conscious of a knee that doesn’t respond like the other knee.

Photos of Knee Replacement (1 week and 1 year)

This time last year my knee was enormous, swollen, stapled with a large incision (read my article about two weeks after surgery). Today the knee is close to the same size as my other knee and the scar is a neat thin line down the middle of my knee and hardly noticeable.

My friends that saw my knee after surgery and now a year later are impressed.

I have seen other scars of friends who have had the same surgery and I give credit to my doctor for his good work.

As I continue a routine of exercise, my knee remains very flexible. I think I have reached the limit of my range of motion but I will continue to work for improvement.

I am resolved to the fact that my surgical knee will never have the same range of motion as my other knee. However, it is very functional and it allows me to swim, hike, bicycle, play golf and pickleball without pain or swelling.

I used Carmex hydrating/moisturizing lotion throughout the first year two to three times a day (read my article on scar management after surgery). I no longer apply it on a regular basis.

I do put plenty of sunblock on the scar whenever I am out in the sun.

When Did I Feel The Biggest Improvements During The Healing Process?

As I mentioned in previous articles, the first month to six weeks was a tough but important time for me.

The rehab was demanding and I took it very seriously. The pain and swelling required constant icing.

After the first two months I began to feel much better. The rehab exercises were easier and the need for ice diminished considerably.

I was able to get back in the pool and swim laps. I was also able to ride my bike again. I started off swimming and biking short distances and after a few weeks I was back to my pre-surgery routine.

I was able to take longer and longer walks but I was far from ready to return to my normal activities.

After four months I began to play 9 holes of golf (walking) and I returned to the pickleball courts. I also was able to resume hiking 5 to 7 miles.

Early on I iced my knee regularly after activity. Now a year later, I seldom ice my knee at all unless I do strenuous activity.

>> Things you need after knee replacement surgery

Don’t get rid of your ice machine or gel pack and keep your wedge pillow for occasional elevation!

Are Improvements Still To Come?

It has been so long since I have had a “normal” right knee that it is hard for me to determine how much better it might get.

I am perfectly content with the progress I have made to date and if it doesn’t get any better it will still be an amazing improvement compared to how it was pre-surgery.

I know that I can continue to make the muscles around the knee stronger and that my calf still has room for improvement. However, the knee itself is functioning so well that it is hard to complain if I am near the best it can be.

I can do everything that I did before surgery without any pain. Any progress in range of motion or strength will now come in small increments.

Exercises Am I Still Doing To Strengthen The Knee

I continue to go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. I also try to swim and ride my bike several times each week.

All three exercises are helping to build up and maintain the strength in my knee and my range of motion.

In the gym I use several machines: leg press, leg pulls and leg lifts. I do calf raises and calf stretches. I do squats with the exercise ball on my back against a wall.

I also continue to strengthen my hips by doing bridges and using bands.

For range-of-motion the most helpful exercise for me is using the large exercise ball, lying on my back, heels on the ball and pulling my legs forward and back.

I would not discourage any specific exercises that I have been doing. All of the exercises were prescribed by my physical therapists.

I would, however, caution you to be conservative with the amount of weight you use. You don’t have to keep adding weight.

My therapist suggested I get to a comfortable weight and then increase repetitions. At this point I am working on strength and on maintaining the growth that I have made.

I am not trying to add weight and increase personal bests.

What Piece Of Equipment Helped Me The Most

The leg-pull machine and the leg lift machine are the two pieces of equipment in the fitness center that have helped me the most.

I feel the burn in my muscles and it indicates I’m working all the muscles around my knee. Plus, it is also helping me to develop my calf on the surgical knee.

What Would I Have Done Differently In The Past Year

As I mentioned above I am happy with the progress I have made to date. When thinking back, I don’t think I would have done anything different during my rehab.

I must stress that I was concerned and fearful about the surgery and the rehab so much so that I strictly followed my doctor’s orders and was especially diligent following the plan my physical therapists set out for me.

Talking with friends that have also had TKR, the ones that seem to be having the most trouble post TKR are those that didn’t take their physical therapy as seriously as I did.

>> Update article: Two years after knee replacement

I give a lot of credit to my doctor and especially to my physical therapists for pushing me and encouraging me.

Satisfaction – Would I Do TKR Again?

It took me a long time to pull the trigger and have my first TKR surgery. Thankfully my other knee is in good shape and another TKR is not on the horizon for me.

If it became necessary, I would not hesitate to have another TKR surgery. I think the second one would be somewhat easier just because I have already gone through the experience.

I would plan my surgery well and choose a time of year when I could maximize my recovery both indoors and out of doors.


When people ask me how my knee is doing, I reply, “it’s a miracle”. It is hard to believe that a 67 year old can heal so well and rebound like I did this past year (there is more hope for us old guys than I ever expected).

TKR surgery and rehab has come a long way. It now seems foolish to have put up with the pain and the limping for so many years.

It has not been an easy journey this past year but the results have been well worth the initial pain and the hard work post-surgery.

I am convinced that my new knee will last me a lifetime.

38 thoughts on “1 Year After Knee Replacement Surgery”

  1. I have a TKR in my near future and am trying to be proactive in preparing as much as possible before the surgery. Your blog has been so helpful in my research. I’m an active 64 year old female and honestly it’s been a little difficult to find testimonies with females. I appreciate your sharing your journey through the past year with your TKR and it encourages me that there is still an active lifestyle for me on the other side. Thanks again and I hope for you continued strength in your knee! Peggy in GA

    • Glad it could help! I hope you make the right decision for you. In hindsight, it was a great decision for me and it’s allowed me to be more active, pain-free. The first two months weren’t easy, but well worth the pain and effort. Best wishes.

        • I haven’t measured in a while. I believe I topped out around 120 degrees. I was told by my doctor to not expect any more ROM than I had going into surgery. Looking back, I’d gladly give up a few degrees of ROM for the amount of pain I experience in my knee now – which is none!

    • Hi Peggy,
      I hope your TKR went well. I just recently past the post surgery one year mark and I am so glad I had surgery. Yes, it was very painful for a while but fortunately I had my retired mother come and take care of me. Without her, I don’t think I would have been able to go through the first month and half. Today, I am able to stand, squat, walk, ride my bike. I do have pain behind my knee after a long walk or standing on my feet for long periods of time but that is expected. I am 57 years old and overweight. I am overjoyed at the ability to do normal things around the house without pain. I hope you are doing well.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I am scheduled for surgery July 21st, 2020. The fear of the unknown is burdensome. Your story has been encouraging.

  2. Thanks for all the information this is a big help. I liked the suggestion on supplies before the surgery . I plan on getting me the pillow before my left knee is done. I have already shared your website with Brittany Osborn her fiancé nigh need surgery.

  3. I understand you had your knee straightened so the knee was a valgus knee? Have you had problems with a limp? After 1 year I still limp with some pain and puffiness? Just wondering? Thanks!

    • I don’t think it was ever diagnosed as a “valgus knee”, but after years of no cartilage, I had adapted the way I put pressure on the joint and I did have a limp. No longer have a limp because there’s no longer pain after TKR. I hope you continue to improve – everyone does at different rates! Thanks for the comment.

  4. Hello All,
    I am a 67 female and have had both knees replaced 2009 and 2015. I have incredible range of motion. Can do deep seats and child’s pose in yoga. Of course it took hard work and determination to get there. But I can honestly say it’s the best decision I have ever made. So happy with my very active life. I just backpacked 500 plus mile on the Appalachian trail this past summer. For those who are looking to get their life back. Do your homework. Get a great surgeon with a great representation. As well as doing all your rehab exercises.

    • Incredible and cheers to you and your surgeon. Always good to hear success stories. Glad you’re getting outside and keeping your active lifestyle!

  5. Janet, how do manage to kneel as in child’s pose? Two and three years on from my TKR’s and I find kneeling impossible.. the pins & needles are too intense!

  6. Hi I had TKR 8 weeks ago and my progress has amazed everyone. 130 degree bend and leg is completely straight and has been since the third week in. I still have stiffness and pain but massage helps a lot and I find that hot wet towels for about 5 min in the morning and then massage get me going for the day ahead. My right knee still needs to be done as I am bone on bone and now that my left leg is so good I find that I have a bit of a limp and right knee will need repair soon . I plan on waiting until spring because of the ice and snow in our area. Thanks for the blog and I am looking forward to my next surgery going as well as this one!

  7. I am very glad to hear someone say something positive about knee surgery. I have heard such horror stories about them. I have been putting off getting my left knee done which is bone on bone as long as I am able to go to the gym and still walk but I know it is going to be sooner rather than later.
    Thank for all the helpful info.

  8. I also would like to know if you are able to squat down. Right now that is the most painful thing I do and more than a few people have told me after TKR you can’t squat at all.

    • Definitely can’t squat all the way down, but I can squat more than before knee replacement…and without pain now! Thanks for the comment.

  9. I am 5 months out of TKR. I’m an active 72 year old woman. I did pre surgery PT and that helped going in. Post surgery, I had a 7 week goal of a two week trip to Europe which had been planned ages ago. My Doc and therapists were wonderful working with me….it was hellish, but I worked like crazy, and was able to go on the trip and walk the cobblestone streets every day. PT is so very important, my RoM is 130. I see folks who think they can slack off, and they aren’t coming along. I’m golfing three days a week, walking, biking and still doing water PT several days a week. It still feels “foreign”, but in the long run I’m glad I had it done.

  10. Thank you so much for such great tips for healing after knee surgery! Both of my knees have “severe osteoarthritis “ according to my orthopedic surgeon. I have had injections in both knees for ten years and now, they are no longer working. I am scheduled for a TKR on my right knee for March 24th. I have been dreading it, but the pain I have going up and down the stairs is just awful!!! Your tips were so helpful, and I will definitely follow all of your advice. I am a 70 year old woman, but have always been very active. Thanks again!

    • Glad my experience could help. Wish you a speedy recovery. If you’re an active person I believe the healing is usually quicker. Thanks for the comment.

  11. I am a 54 yr old woman one week out of TKR surgery and just found your blog. Thank you for the good information and sharing experiences. I am now encouraged to put all my effort into PT which I really didn’t realize was as important as it obviously is!

  12. I’m one year post bi-lateral knee replacement and I am still disappointed with the pain under my kneecaps. I have a very long term Patella tracking problem which is proving very stubborn to correct.
    Yes, that’s right, I had both knees (TKR) done at the same time.
    I was climbing stairs, very slowly, at 2 weeks post op and cycling on flat ground by about six weeks.
    During the 10th and 11th month, post op, I was cycling 50km to 60km, twice a week, with an extra 25kgs of sand on board my recumbent trike – training for a 1000km self supporting trike ride in April 2020.
    I have full movement, 130+ degrees, in both knees and no more joint pain nor that horrible constant aching. Getting that movement meant the toughest week of my life. Picture AC-DC cranked up to 10, tears streaming down my cheeks, and some very deep breathing, to try and work through the pain of breaking the scar tissue . I did it, and I’m so glad I did.
    At 12months post op, a piece of my kneecap broke off. Wowwww, did that hurt!!
    My surgeon says I was just unlucky and no need for anything to be done. The pain will mostly settle down, over a month or so, of being very careful again – and it is.
    But; I’m back to three visits to the gym, every week, working on strength around the knee. My Physio says I have very strong quads but everything else needs work.
    I feel like I’m never going to be pain free but remain hopeful that I can get there as we try more ways to target stretching and strengthening around the knee.
    Still aiming for that 1000km ride, but not sure it’s going to happen in April/May this year.

    • Wow, you were training hard! It always helps recovery to have a goal to work towards. I think cycling is a great low-impact exercise after TKR. Sorry to hear about your knee cap but good to know you’re back at it! Best wishes on your 1000km ride and thanks for reading!

  13. For those concerned about having knee surgery done, remember it is very painful for a short time . If you don’t have it done your pain will never ever end! Love my bionic knees!

    • I’m 64 yo and had both knees done, one in October 2019 and the second in February 2020, I’ve put up with the pain for 14 years, getting home from work at 4 pm and could not make it to 5:30pm doing yard work, pain became to much to keep going. After both surgery’s had maybe 10 days of pain for each one, now never take any pain medication, what a relief to walk with no pain.

  14. My story is nearly identical although only done in August.
    My knee is now pretty much painless and fully functional.
    Great! Get yours done too 😉

  15. I am a 69 y/o male and had my left knee TKR in August 2019 and my right knee TKR in January 2020.
    It was the best decision I could have made after years of bone on bone pain.
    I couldn’t walk more than 1 block without pain and later swelling. The pain would wake me at night.
    Now there’s no pain, other than the expected recovery and therapy pain.
    Left knee back to normal size and right 85%.
    I now work out every day and bike about 5 miles a day. At home due to Covid19, but still exercising. ROM is at 120 for both knees.
    Do your research and find a good doctor and therapist.

  16. I had my left knee TKR on February 4. I am a maternity nurse and am back working 12 hour days. I’m not going to lie, the first 2 weeks were not pleasant! I did PT
    2 times a week until I returned to work. I believe it made the difference in my recovery. I have no pain in my knee. Still a little tender but it’s only been 12 weeks!

    • Great to hear. Cheers to you for working during this uncertain time, and with a new knee. You’re tough. After those long days don’t forget to elevate and ice (as a nurse you already know). Thanks for the comment!

  17. Thank you for your helpful input. I am a little over a year out with my TKR. At 70 my main exercise is walking to burn calories. I can do 20,000 to 25,000 some days with a goal of reaching 100,000 steps per week. Have not found any recommendations on how many steps is too many in a week for TKR. My Ortho doctor retired this year and I have not chosen another one. I am concerned that I am doing too many steps and will wear out my knee.
    Do you have any opinions on how many steps a day is too many for a TKR? Thank you

    • Thanks for visiting. Not sure about the steps, I think each person is in a little different situation. I believe that walking won’t put too much wear and tear on the joint (in my opinion).

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