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[Member Discussions and Questions] Input on Knee Replacements for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Input on Knee Replacements for Rheumatoid Arthritis Member Discussion from RA Chicks archiveJune 4, 2014

Knee replacements? Member looking for your input:

I had my right knee replaced 3 weeks ago. I still walk with a limp and cannot straighten it completely. I couldn’t straighten it prior to the surgery because my RA was so bad. I’m wondering if the point I’m at in physical therapy is normal (straightening to about 8% at 3 weeks out) or if most people are straight by this point. My therapist says I only have about 6 weeks total to “get it right”. I’m getting nervous!! Thanks.

Your feedback as always is greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to help answer your fellow member’s message. I hope this finds you all well. (((Pain-free internet hugs)))

What our members have said so far:

Carol – At three weeks post-op, you’re still in the very early stages of recovery. Knee replacement is one of those surgeries where you have to put your head down and bull your way through the pain of rehab, or you’ll wind up no better off than before.

Karen – I agree with Diane, do that exercise and be diligent about doing the other exercises. Do them at least 3 times a day. I also used ice for about 10 to 15 minutes prior to doing the exercises. That way you can push yourself, then ice again after. I had my knee replaced Feb 14 and I am feeling great, having the other one done in August. It is only now starting to feel really good, it will get better.

Stephanie – I am the coordinator for the total joint program at the hospital I work at. One of the most important exercises you can do to get your straightening back is to sit in a chair and rest your foot on a ottoman or another chair. Leave it suspended in air, so gravity pulls it down. Also, never, never, never put a pillow under your knee. This prevent the knee from straightening. No matter how good it feels, never put a pillow under your knee.

Kendra – your therapist is a jerk. I went to physio for 14 weeks post right knee replacement. I got to straight about week 5, but it took about 12 weeks to get 90+deg bend (I had 80 deg before surgery). You just need to keep plugging away at your exercises at home. I know they HUUUUURRRRRT like a bee-atch but they need to be done. I am now a year post op, and I’m now riding a bike, ice skating, and doing heaps of stuff that people with knee replacements arent supposed to be able to do.

Mary – and movement on a regular basis is your friend, don’t be a couch potato

Judy -I am one of the lucky ones. I could straighten my knee 4 days post op. The biggest thing is to work hard and through the pain. The benefits will pay off in the long run

Lori -Omg. . . You are only 3 week out. Why in the world.are you fretting? I have had both knees done and know that three weeks is nothing. I am.surprised that you are in pt already. I used the machine at night whike I slept and then had more movement during the day because I wasnt tied to the machine. I found it easier to maintain mobility that way. You stiffen at night. The more I used it the more range of movement I had. I also pushed myself on the exercises. I was alone and needed to take control of the situation. But do not do anything stupid. I know a woman who had same surgery, same day, same surgeon as mine and she is still not walking properly because she didnt follow the program. Its 2 years down the road.

Ilene – Have patience. I know right now it seems like you’ll never be fully healed. Went through that feeling while I was in rehab for 6 weeks (bi-lateral knees) but I promise, you will get there. Do your exercises diligently & know that it will be fine.

Emily – Everybody heals differently. Keep doing the exercises and stretches, but don’t over do it and put yourself back to where u have to start over. It will happen when your body says its ready. Hang in there!

Diane – When you are laying in bed sitting up pull your knee down towards the bed and you could try to assist yourself using your hands that will stretch your leg just do it easy, do repetitions of maybe 5 to 10 to begin with.

Denise – In the hospital, I remember my physio being pleasantly surprised that it was going straight already, because they said sometime people have a lot of trouble with it. Good luck!
I had a knee replacement six weeks ago and mine went straight within the first week. It went almost but not entirely straight before the surgery. Now, I’ve had much more trouble with getting it to bend to 90 degrees.

Val – Anybody had surgery done on both knees at the same time?

Lindy – a trick they gave me as to place a rolled up towel under my foot whilst laying in bed so that gravity would drag the knee down- this hurt like hell and I could only manage a few minutes at a time but I pushed my self do it as often as I could-take strong pain meds and work on the joint- it will be worth it because I had spent 8 months in a wheel chair prior to my replacement they said my knee would never be straight and I wold never walk properly again- just over a year now and not only do I walk and straighten fine I can even manage a slow jog- It takes a while in the beginning, I don’t think I could straighten my knee for the first 6 months, but I got to a point where it all just came together- don’t be discouraged, keep doing what you can and try to incorporate physio therapy in a pool if you have one near by- you will be able to push the joint more with the support of water

Modern Senior Products - Sometimes you have to go back into the hospital for the orthopedist to do something to the knee to get it to bend and move properly. Talk to your orthopedist before too much time goes by.

Denise – I had the same problem I was moving as fast as the physical therapist wanted me too. Don’t get stressed out that will only make it worse, work on your bodies schedule, if you move to fast it makes it worse. Most physical therapist aren’t used to RA patients just remember we all have other issues going on at the same too that they need to take into consideration. It will get better hang tough!

Mary – Had mine done 4/8/14. I’m getting an 11degree straightening. Which is a 50 percent improvement over post op. I’m working my a$$ off in pt and at home. I am getting a 103 degree bend which is nothing to right home about, but is an improvement for me. Had my left one done in 2007 and know it will get better. Remember, everyone is different. Keep at it!

Kat – How much pain do you have now three weeks post surgery? Are you still using crutches? ( am getting mine done in 2 weeks)

Sue – I have now had both knees replaced and am finally getting a bit more mobile but have RA and fibro as well. When exercising I was told to use a skate board as itis more gentle and easier. Don’t worry after 3 weeks I think thats a bit soon! I have been very lucky and have got to the expected bend now but it has taken time. I think to say “get it right” is a bit rude actually! We all do it differently and she/he may not be taken the RA into account! Keep at it, find a skateboard and you’ll get there. It takes time and don’t be so hard on yourself!! xx

Sarah – My physical therapist said something like that too, in fact he told me I wouldn’t walk normally again. HA!!! I’m 9 years out and have perfect range of motion. Keep walking every day, keep doing your exercises ( including using a rocking chair…it helps!) Don’t give up!

Christina – Just keep doing your exercises & try to keep the swelling down & you should be okay. Don’t slack though or it won’t straighten. Sounds like you’re on track though from what I remember going through.

Tonia – Ha! 6 weeks! I’m on my ninth MONTH and I STILL “don’t have it right”. I had to have a manipulation at about 4 months. I had both my knees done at once. My only advice is to keep at the exercises, to the point of not being able to take it. Push, push, push. It will be worth it!

Vickie – For so early sounds like you are doing awesome. My knee was stuck bent after due to very tight hamstrings but extension improved wearing a Dyna splint 4-8 hours a day.

Cheryl – I had both knees replaced separately in 10/08 & 12/08. PT was grueling but in the end very well worth it. In 4/12 I had to have both knees done at once, the surgeon, seeing them swollen and painful, assumed I had an infection and replaced both knees again at the same time. Because of the diagnosis, I had a PICC line, and wasn’t allowed pt, my insurance wouldn’t cover it. I pulled out all the paperwork from the first go round and faithfully exercised both new knees 3x a day. RA attacks any joint that has synovial fluid, so I didn’t need my knees replaced the second time. PT is very important..ice before & take an inflammatory, then bend, bend & bend. I cried every day on the way home the first time, but now I can keep up with grandkids & life on a farm.

Bonnie – I had both knees replaced 10 years ago. The machine pinched a nerve in my hip, but otherwise, I recovered well. Three weeks is nothing. I will still improving more than a year out. Just keep doing everything they tell you to do. Your doctor can order an extension of your physical therapy if there is a medical indication, like a pre-existing condition. But you have to do the work. Bless your heart. I didn’t like this phase, but I’d be in a wheel chair now without them.

Terri – Had my left knee done 1/14 and my right done 4/15 of this year. My wonderful ortho surgeon does a nerve block and had me walking down the hall a few hours after surgery. Slept with the cpm machine and did my exercises every day. Rehabbed the surgical knee which strengthened the other knee for surgery. Perhaps you’re PT person can change up your routine for your special needs. I now have two pain free knees and wish you the same result. Good luck it will be so worth it.

Jen – They should of put you in a CPM machine not to long after surgery, it helps with gaining movement in your knee. Also when on the machine keeps the fluids moving to help with swelling which ultimately helps with pain. I had my knee replaced 8 yrs ago.

Heather – ask your physio therapist but make sure you tell them you have RA too… I had my hip replaced 4 weeks ago and always have to tell the physio people that I have RA too and have problems doing the exercises….

Tricia -Thanks everyone for your comments and support. I’m now 4+ weeks and at about 4 degrees and can bend at over 130. So I’m really close to straight, and my bend is no problem. I started pt right after surgery and only have a week or two left. I had the same therapist when I had my hip replaced and actually she works strictly with my ortho surgeons joint replacement patients. She know about my RA but still pushes me, which I appreciate. I didn’t mean to make her sound rude or pushy. Anyhow, thanks guys!! Ps to the person who asked, I never used crutches. Used a walker for about 1week, then a cane for maybe a week, at 3 weeks I was walking unassisted. Just took my cane if I was going out to a store where I’d be walking a lot. At 4 weeks I put that cane away!!

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The above is a discussion created by a member and with member generated responses from our Facebook community (facebook.com/rachicks) put into a format so that the discussion can be archived for future answers needed by others in a searchable format while keeping member anonymity. Member provided information, statements and opinions do not reflect on RAChicks.com or all individuals with Autoimmune Arthritis. We encourage all members to seek professional medical advice for any specific questions and concerns as this does not substitute competent medical care.

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