Tag Archive | total knee replacement

Knee Replacement – What to Expect

Last week I posted an article on how to decide if you were ready for Total Knee replacement.  This is a follow on to that. You and your doctor decide that it IS time for a total knee replacement.  Remember there are things you should try first AND don’t be afraid to check with more than one doctor. 

I had 2 very different experiences with 2 different doctors for the same knee!!! Their approach to the surgery was even very different.  Who knew??? 

Dr 1 procedure (traditional):

  • All the normal pre surgery tests need to be done to determine if you are healthy enough for the surgery.  For me – chest X-Rays, EKG and bloodwork
  • Get any prescriptions needed after surgery beforehand
  • Enter hospital
  • Determine anesthesia – general, spinal or regional nerve block. Any anesthesia has risk but PUT ME OUT!
  • Surgeon makes an incision (6-10 inches )over the front of the knee to expose the joint
  • Replace the damaged tissue with new components that mimics your original knee
  • After surgery you will have pain (that’s normal) but the dr may give you a nerve block during the surgery to help with immediate pain
  • Your knee might be placed in a continuous passive motion machine (CPM) that will extend and flex your leg while lying down. 
  • Recovery – most people will be up walking within 24 hrs with the aid of a walker.  They like to get you moving quickly.
  • You will be helped with learning to walk and how to navigate
  • Most people are discharged (pending no issues) 2-3 days after surgery
  • Physical Therapy continues for several weeks.  You really need someone to help you at home or do rehab in a nursing facility for a short time depending on how much you can do yourself. 
  • Sometimes you need a CPM machine to use at home to increase knee motion
  • Most people recover with 3 months although for some it may take 6 months.  I’ve seen both.

Dr 2 procedure (this is what I went with):

  • Counseling about the procedure. I was given a book that was required reading and given a CD where I could watch how the surgery was to be done (Ummmm, no NOT for ME – didn’t care)
  • Steps from pre surgery tests to surgery were the same but please note that much of the surgery done by this dr is done in a medical facility unless patient has potential complications that might require hospital involvement but due to COVID, the facility was not open so I did use the hospital.
  • BIG DIFFERENCE – Procedure is done as OUTPATIENT surgery!
  • Dr gave me a pain block during surgery so I didn’t feel pain for a while.
  • I also went home with a medicine ball that was attached to a tiny catheter in my thigh. I could turn the dial on the ball and get pain meds.  Theoretically you can take the catheter out yourself after 4 days but I had to call an EMT friend to do it while I was distracted.
Medicine Ball
  • No machines, I woke up from anesthesia and was on a walker immediately.
  • The book I was initially given had exercises in that I was required to do when I got home. NO PHYSICAL THERAPY.  I will list these exercises below.
  • This seems to be a fairly new procedure and it is called “SwiftPath
  • The BAD thing about this is that it is not done in very many places yet.  Not to sound cynical, but the other procedure, while it achieves the same results, costs quite a bit more for the Hospital stay plus Physical Therapy.

Having said that, you MUST be diciplined to DO THE exercises HOURLY!  My mother in law did not and she is still having issues.  These exercises are from Allina Health but I modified them to be he same as the ones I was given. I was given access to a video and website after surgery with all the information/exercises I needed.


For Swelling

Rest and elevate

  • Lie down with your surgical leg at or above the level of your heart for 20 minutes.
  • You may place two to three pillows lengthwise beneath your surgical leg if you have an increase in swelling. Call your surgeon if you are concerned about the amount of swelling you have or if your swelling does not improve.


  • While you are resting and elevating, place cold packs around your knee for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Place a clean, dry towel or pillowcase between your skin and the cold pack.

Do the following exercises each 10 times each hour.  Takes about 20 min.

1-Ankle pumps and circles

Pump your feet up and down by pulling your feet up toward you, then pushing your feet down away from you.

2-Knee straightening stretch (sitting knee extension)

Sit on a sturdy chair with your lower leg on an equal height chair or solid surface in front of you. Relax your muscles to let your knee straighten. You should feel a gentle stretch on the back of your knee.

3-Knee bending stretch (sitting knee flexion)

Step 1: Sit toward the front of a sturdy chair. Bend your knee by slowly sliding your foot back-and-forth, resting briefly as needed. Try to move your foot back farther each time as you are able. You can use your hands to help. Do this for a few minutes as a warm up. You may want to use a plastic bag under your foot to help it slide easier.

Step 2: Slowly bend your knee back until you feel a gentle stretch. Scoot your body forward on the chair to increase the stretch as you are able. Your heel may lift from the floor but do not lift your hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and relax. 

The stretching should be more slow and gentle than fast and forceful. Try to keep your muscle relaxed throughout the exercise.

4-Heel slides (hip and knee flexion)

Bend your surgical hip and knee by sliding your heel up toward your buttocks while keeping your heel on the bed. Slide your heel back down to the starting position and relax. Keep your kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling during the exercise. You may want to use a plastic bag under your heel to help it slide easier.

5-Leg slides (abduction/adduction)

Slide your surgical leg out to the side, keeping your kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling. Slide your leg back to the starting position. You may want to use a plastic bag under your heel to help it slide easier.

If you’re like me, you look at this and say that’s 40 min out of EVERY HR of the day that I’m awake!!!!!  WOW.  That’s a LOT.  It is but it is SO worth it. Just think of all the time/money you save by NOT going to PT. 


You might have to use the walker, but make sure you walk around as much as possible.

PLEASE BEWARE.  There are a couple GRAPHIC photos here (at least to me).  Perhaps I’m just squimish.  I don’t even do blood very well. 

Bandage after surgery
Bandage Off

Meds/Supplements:  7 days before surgery I was asked to stop NSAIDs and my Vit E.  Of course, you’ll have to tell the dr all the meds/supplements you take and the dr can work out what’s best for you and your situation. 

The meds/supplements I had to take after were very minimal.  Tramadol for pain, Extra Strength Tylenol, Gabapentin (an anti-convulsant), Meloxicam (anti inflammatory) and Vit D. 

These are MY 2 experiences with 2 different doctors.  The first doctor I used for my hip replacement and it went very well. 

The second dr I found through a friend and I was VERY pleased.  I do understand not everyone can GET to a dr that uses the SwiftPath approach. It’s not a common procedure yet. Maybe you’re not even comfortable with this approach.  Everyone is different.  After talking to a friend of mine, she felt better using a doctor who used the traditional approach but she did the exercises that I did and that’s working really well for her.  You MUST be comfortable and confident with your doctor!

As I said last time, this is MY experience.  Many people have asked me about it so I wanted to share with all of you.  If I can give you some insight into all of this or some other options to think about — great, I’ve accomplished my purpose. 

How to prepare for home recovery:

-If you live in a multistory house, have a space on the ground floor when you first get home.  I went upstairs after the first week

-Free the space of any obstruction such as area rugs, furniture or clutter

-Make sure you have good handrails where needed

-Think about a grab bar in the shower

-Also think about a raised toilet seat if you’re really having issues

If you do the exercises and walk, you should be back to “normal” in no time.  They still suggest you don’t run or jog although that’s not an issue for me.  I’m only going to run if someone is chasing me with a knife!!!!!  It does feel weird, but I can even kneel on mine but I’m gentle. 

I understand that the quality of these replacement knees has improved and they should last for a number of years.  It feels SOOO good to be able to hike again without pain.  I’m so glad I did it.

PLEASE NOTE once again:  This is NOT medical advice, this is from MY experience.  Knee Replacement is an important decision and it should be made with your doctor!

I hope this helped you. PLEASE let me know if you have any questions. The whole purpose of my site is to exchange information and/or help.

Comments/Thoughts are welcomed and encouraged.



Ready for Knee Replacement?

I know this post is overdue but I was helping my elderly mother-in-law.  Why is it that the older I get, the older “OLD” is?

Anyway, I wanted to share some thoughts and my experience with total knee replacement.  Please NOTE:  This is by NO means a recomendation for you per se. It is MY PERSONAL experience with knee replacement and some information I found helpful.   I just share it because I did a lot of research and trial/error and I want to help others to possibly avoid that. 

This might take a few posts.  Knee replacement is not to be taken lightly and should not be the first option when you feel pain.  There are things you can do such as:

Lose weight and exercise if you’re overweight (I was)

I was told that for every 10 lbs I lost, that was 40 lbs less force pressing on my knee.  Losing weight helped a lot. Some of my activities were: 

          –walking with a knee brace or kinesiology tape (tape supports muscles to relieve pain and reduce inflammation – it comes in many pretty colors/patterns)

          –bike riding – again with a knee brace or kinesiology tape

          –strength training – be careful with the weight though

          –water aerobics – this felt about the best

          –yoga but then I can’t live without my yoga

          –tai chi was suggested but I’m not a fan although I know many are

Physical Therapy

They can help you with a plan to strengthen the muscles around your knee and be there to not only make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly but monitor your progress.

OTC Medications & Supplements

Options I tried:

          –Excedrin (acetaminopen and NSAID) but I took so much it made my stomach bleed

          –Advil (NSAID) again bleeding

          –Tylenol (acetaminopen) worked for a while

          –Topical creams that have capsaicin which also provide temporary relief

          –Osteo BiFlex  – no help

          –Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate  – no help

          –Revival Balm from Lemongrass Spa

          –Bio Freeze –  temporary relief

          –Deep Blue from DoTerra – temporary relief

          –Green Deva Massage Oil which was an essential oil blend  – temporary relief

There are many more options available and they MAY work well for you.

Corticosteriod Injection

This was an injection right into the knee.  It wasn’t painful to get.  It supposedly helped with inflammation and pain.  For many, this will work and relief will last for several weeks.  It’s a great option. 


This is an ancient Chinese technique that uses thin needles injected into your knee to change the flow of energy within your body.  While it sounds kind of creepy and painful to get needles put into your body, you really don’t feel them.  It can take several sessions for them to work and most insurance companies don’t cover the cost. 

I was offered Prolotherapy which is where the dr injects a solution into the ligament to increase blood flow and supply nutrients.  It takes several injections about 4 weeks apart and there is no guarantees.  I opted out of that AND an injection for a pain block.  I felt the pain block was just a bandaid cure. 

There are other options that I’ve read about but did not try such as:

Arthroscopic Surgery

This is where the surgeon uses a small incision to operate on the inside of the knee,  It can be used for a torn meniscus, damaged cartliage or repair ligaments. 

Stem Cell Treatment

I read where they use bone marrow stem cells to help regenerate cartilage. 

I’m sure there is or will be more options as us baby boomers continue to age and research continues.  Remember this is a big money maker for all those involved with treatment. 

I went to the doctor, he took X-rays.  When I saw the X-rays, I could see that my cartliage (the cushion between my knee bones) was pretty much gone.  I was bone on bone.   

With anything this important, always weigh your options before you opt for invasive surgery.  So, when IS the time?


-Knee pain can cause you to walk in such a way that it will affect other parts of your body because you will favor the knee.

-If you have difficulty in just accomplishing normal tasks due to pain – like walking to the mailbox

-Your overall health is getting bad  due to your increasing sedentary lifestyle

-Bottomline – is it affecting your quality of life????  

I found this Questionnaire online from Healthline: Osteoarthritis Newsletter  I thought it was really helpful:


For each question, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5. The total may help you and your doctor decide whether a knee replacement is a suitable option for you.

1. Overall level of pain

How would you describe your overall pain level?

1Slight pain and/or no trouble
2Slight pain and/or little trouble
3Moderate pain and/or moderate trouble
4Serious pain and/or extreme difficulty
5Severe pain and/or impossible

2. Pain and difficulty bathing

How difficult is it for you to bathe and dry yourself?

1Slight pain and/or no trouble
2Slight pain and/or little trouble
3Moderate pain and/or moderate trouble
4Serious pain and/or extreme difficulty
5Severe pain and/or impossible

3. Using transportation

How much pain and difficulty do you experience when getting in and out of a car, operating a vehicle, or using public transportation?

1Slight pain and/or no trouble
2Slight pain and/or little trouble
3Moderate pain and/or moderate trouble
4Serious pain and/or extreme difficulty
5Severe pain and/or impossible

4. Walking capacity

How long can you walk, with or without a cane, before experiencing severe knee pain?

1Longer than 30 minutes
216–30 minutes
35–15 minutes
4Less than 5 minutes
5Can’t walk without severe pain

5. Standing up

After sitting in a chair or at a table and then getting up to stand, what level of pain do you experience?

1Slight pain and/or no trouble
2Slight pain and/or little trouble
3Moderate pain and/or moderate trouble
4Serious pain and/or extreme difficulty
5Severe pain and/or impossible

6. Pain while walking

Does the pain in your knee cause you to limp while walking?

1Rarely or never
2Occasionally or only when first starting to walk
4Most of the time

7. Kneeling down

Are you able to kneel down and get back up easily afterward?

1Yes, without any problem
2Yes, with slight difficulty
3Yes, with moderate difficulty
4Yes, with extreme difficulty
5Not possible

8. Sleep

Does your knee pain interfere with sleep?

2Once in a while
3Some nights
4Most nights
5Every night

9. Work and housework

Are you able to work and do housework?

1Yes, with minimal or no problem
2Yes, most of the time
3Yes, fairly often
5Rarely or never

10. Knee stability

Does your knee ever feel as though it’s going to give way?

1Not at all
3Fairly often
4Most of the time
5All of the time

11. Household shopping

Are you able to do household shopping?

1Yes, with minimal or no problem
2Yes, most of the time
3Yes, fairly often
5Rarely or never

12. Managing stairs

Are you able to walk down a flight of stairs?

1Yes, with minimal or no problem
2Yes, most of the time
3Yes, fairly often
5Rarely or never


Final Score = ______________ (Add your score from above.)


  • 54 or higher: indicates that your condition is fairly severe
  • 43 to 53: indicates that you have a moderate problem
  • 30 to 42: indicates some problem or inhibited function
  • 18 to 29: indicates that your condition is relatively mild
  • 17 or lower: indicates that you have little to no knee problems

Only YOU and your doctor can determine when the right time is but DO NOT be pressured.  YOU will know more than anyone when the time is right!  It was 6 years from the time of my first X-ray and was told I needed Total Knee Replacement immediately to when I actually had it done. 

Was that good or bad?  I don’t know but it was right for me.  I chose to look at alternative solutions first knowing that a replacement is only good for a limited number of years.  Surgery for me is always a last resort. 

I’m going to end this here and will continue with what to do AFTER you make the decision. I promise I won’t take as long for the next part.

Questions/comments/or thoughts are welcome and encouraged.



Founder of Not Your Mama’s Senior

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