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It has now been 7 months since my knee replacement surgery. In this article I’ll bring you up to date on my progress, pain level, and even a slight setback.
I traveled in the prior month so I didn’t have access to a fitness center or a swimming pool. I continued to be active and focused on hiking and walking.
Because I was unable to bike on a regular basis, use range of motion machines in the gym, and swim, I felt my knee stiffen up a bit and I may have lost a few degrees of my range of motion.
I am now back home and exercising the way I was prior to my vacation. My knee continues to be pain-free with very minor soreness around the knee.
Pain Level 7 Months After Knee Replacement
My knee continues to click when walking up stairs and when hiking up hills. There is no pain but it is an eerie feeling sometimes to feel it click after each step you take as you walk uphill.
My knee is still warm to the touch, especially after exercise and activity. I still ice and elevate my knee after rigorous hiking or walking a lot on hard surfaces (read my ice pack recommendations). The only pain I feel is soreness around the knee. I feel absolutely no pain inside of my knee.
I can squat better than I have in the past and it is much easier to bend over and tie my shoes, pick up balls and other objects.
During the 7th month, I took a trip to Australia for 6 weeks. I was able to hike and walk each day. I was able to borrow a bike 4 or 5 times and ride medium distances.
I was not able to use a gym or fitness center and there was no pool available for lap swimming. When I returned home after six weeks I discovered that I had lost a few degrees of my range of motion and that it took me a mile or so on the bike before my knee loosened up and I could pedal easily.
After a few weeks of getting back into my routine of swimming, biking, and going to my local fitness center I felt like I regained all of my range of motion. This made me even more convinced that a long term and consistent exercise program is essential in the months and years after TKR.
If you want to experience a good recovery the activity (work) is worth it.
Things I Can Do Now That I Couldn’t Do Before TKR
I have no desire to take up running or jogging but I have tried some jogging on the beach in the sand. I am able to jog slowly, without a limp and without any pain.
I had not been able to run without a limp for several years before TKR. I can also use the leg press machines in the gym (read more about my post-TKR workout). Before TKR the pain and grinding made it impossible to use a leg press for many years.
While hiking prior to TKR, I always went downhill putting my bad leg first. Now I am able to walk down steep hills and hiking trails alternating my left and right foot, which is the normal way to walk.
I find it much easier to get in and out of cars both from the driver’s side and from the passenger side.
Simple tasks like putting on my socks and shoes are much easier to do. Before TKR I could only wash my right foot by sitting on the bench in the shower. Now I can wash my foot standing up due to my increased range of motion.
I also had my first massage at a spa since my TKR. I did not mention anything to the therapist about my surgery and during the full body massage she worked on both legs and knees with the same pressure. I felt no pain, just a soothing massage.
Am I Putting Equal Weight On Each Leg When Walking?
After a good deal of practice, I’ve relearned to walk without a limp. I’m walking normally putting equal weight on each leg and I am using good posture.
Before TKR, I leaned to a side and had a noticeable limp while walking. I am putting less stress on my non-surgical knee and hip.
Prior to knee replacement, I often had pain in my non-surgical hip after strenuous exercise. Friends have also noticed that I am not favoring my leg while I am playing pickleball. I used to limp up to the net and would give up on balls hit to my right side.
Has My Weight Been A Major Factor During My Recovery?
The less weight you are carrying puts less stress on all body parts. I am glad I took the time to lose a little weight before surgery and through post TKR exercise I have been able to maintain my weight.
I feel better and I am making it easier for my knee to recover. The stronger your leg is before surgery the easier it will be to make a recovery.
My Number 1 Beneficial Exercise For My Recovery
The most beneficial exercise post TKR for me has been cycling on a regular basis. Whether you are using a stationary bike or riding like me on a traditional bike outdoors, the regular range of motion and the many repetitions has increased my range of motion more than anything except for my initial exercises immediately after my surgery.
It’s important to cycle at least every other day and to increase the distance or time you spend on the bike (read my recommendations for indoor exercise equipment).
If you’re experiencing a tough time during recovery with traditional exercise and stretching, I’d recommend you spend time on a stationary bike.
You can control the resistance level as well as the amount of range of motion you desire. Swimming is also something I heartily recommend.
It is not only beneficial for your knee but also for your overall health. Walking, stretching and bending your knee in the water can be done with very little resistance.
I would avoid jogging and running. You may be able to do some running but in the long run, it will put wear and tear on your new knee. My doctor said I would be able to jog but that he would never recommend doing it on a regular basis.
I’ve discovered that consistent, disciplined exercise continued into the 7th month post-TKR is beneficial for my recovery. I had a short period where I could not continue my regular exercise routine and I could tell that I regressed a bit.
I was able to get back in my routine and my knee is again making further progress, as I want it to become stronger and more stable.
I recommend that you spend regular time on a stationary bike or a road bike and increase the level of difficulty and distance. If you have access to a pool, swim and do aquatic exercise on a regular basis.
Stay fit, keep the pounds off and eat wisely. My goal is to have two matching legs and two matching knees. I know I have plenty of work ahead of me but the first 7 months of recovery show that I’m on the right track.
I hope this article has helped you plan your recovery from TKR.