Patient Comments: Total Knee Replacement - Exercises and Physical Therapy

Please share your experience with exercises and physical therapy following a total knee replacement surgery.

Comment from: Tony C, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: August 10

Right after my right knee replacement, they got me up with brace and walker to slowly start walking. They then had a CPM machine to start bending my range of motion, 6 hours a day. I then went to a rehabilitation hospital for 11 days of therapy which includes knee bending and straightening exercise. While they are painful, they are necessary to reach zero degrees straight and 130 flexing. I left rehab at 110 flexing. Outpatient therapy and self/home therapy got me to 135 flexing. The right knee is pain free. I did my left knee replacement and 20 days later it is good, still swollen and painful, but am progressing with the CPM machine, strengthening, straightening and flexing exercises.

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Comment from: granny62, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 27

I had my total knee replacement on March 17, 2016. I am now almost 6 weeks out. I was doing very well the first 3 weeks while at home with my in-home physiotherapy (PT). I started hospital PT on April 12, 2016. The nightmare started that day. Prior to that day I had a bend of 102 degrees and almost straight. The therapist I was given told me to get on a bike and ride it for 15 minutes and make full rotations. I tried but the pain was unbearable. I actually only made it around backwards once. Since that day I have had swelling to the point I think my skin is going to burst. I ice and ice some more. Nothing works to take the swelling down. When I said something to him, he actually blamed me for overworking my knee! I no longer see him but I am unable to do very much because the swelling is so bad. I am getting so depressed and wish I never had this done. I still go to PT 3 times a week but have lost my range down to only 90 degrees. I am losing ground every day. The more I try the more pain I am in. I will never do the other knee which is starting to go bad. The pain I was in prior to surgery was very bad, but this is worse by far.

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Comment from: DOT, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

After being diagnosed with osteonecrosis I had a total knee replacement on 19th January 2016. I am getting so frustrated because I can't bend my knee. I do my physiotherapy regularly and also walk for 40 minutes daily. I am in so much pain after exercises that the next day I am suffering. I had a mishap at physical therapy 7 weeks after operation. I was in tears because I could not get the pedals round. After rocking back and forward the pedals were forced round and my knee bent and caused me excruciating pain. My knee swelled so much more than it had been and looked like a massive blister with the skin so thin that it looked about to burst. Physiotherapist told me not to exercise for two weeks and I am sure I did some damage. I feel like I am fighting against the tide, exercising and getting nowhere. I cannot see how you can get your knee to bend if it is very swollen and tight. I am due to see my surgeon in 3 weeks and terrified that he will suggest a manipulation under anesthesia. I can't understand why I am not improving when I do everything physiotherapist tells me; ice, exercise, ice, elevation and more ice. Twelve weeks after operation I am in so much pain that I fear I will have a permanent limp. Exercising just makes more pain and I am in agony the next day I am unable to exercise. I am at my wits' end.

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Comment from: Carlos, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: January 20

My physical therapy (PT) began in the hospital the afternoon of the surgery for total knee replacement, where they have a small PT facility. Two days later I was at home and the PT person arrived every couple days for the next two weeks. Then I went to the PT clinic two minutes from my house for the next seven weeks. The PT folks stressed flexibility for the first four weeks, over strength building. So I had to bend the knee a lot, like it or not. Surgery was 11/23/15 and now, on 1/17/16 I'm at 121 degrees of flex and virtually no pain, except after about six hours in bed, when I can relieve pain with a pillow under the knee or a couple of Tylenol. I've used virtually every machine in the PT clinic, from elliptical to reclining bike but they have deliberately avoided the treadmill. Also I have returned to the gym between PT appointments and use all of the same equipment as before the surgery except at lower settings. I'd rather take time and build up slowly to where I was prior to surgery rather than risk any injury by pushing too fast. I've seen the doctor twice and he says all looks good. This is the second knee of mine he has replaced and this one was much less painful than the first. Unlike with the first he now has a procedure where they inject painkiller all around the knee, carefully finding the nerves with ultrasound. They showed me what they were going to do. I was knocked out when they did it. I especially appreciated that I could take a lot less of the opioid pain killers this time, since I hate the way they scramble your brains. They also stressed icing the knee three or four times a day to reduce swelling, since swelling reduces flexibility. I have an ice water machine that circulates the cold water in a cuff that's velcroed around the knee but when that's inconvenient I just use ice packs from the freezer, similar to those that they use at the PT clinic. You also have to elevate the knee while icing it. I like this PT guy especially because he has fixed numerical goals to achieve and he's serious about achieving them. I just have to grin and bear the pain.

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Total Knee Replacement - Experience Question: Please describe your total knee replacement experience.
Total Knee Replacement - Causes Question: What was the cause of you needing a total knee replacement?
Total Knee Replacement - Recovery Question: Please share your experience with recovery following a total knee replacement surgery.

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