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lucyj
April 25th, 2012, 03:55 PM
Just learned I will need total knee replacement surgery for both knees "sooner than later" as the doc said.

If any of you out there have gone through this surgery, I'll appreciate hearing about your experience. In particular, how long did it take you to get back to work, and back into the pool? How long before your knee(s) were pain free while swimming (and turning!)? Are you happy you had the surgery? Did you experience any problems with blood loss? How long did you go to physical therapy? Anything else I should know before signing up for this? :confused:

Thanks!

bbpolhill
June 8th, 2012, 06:34 PM
I had one knee totally replaced so it's certainly not the same thing, but I'll share my experience.

I was in alot of pain prior to my surgery and swam through most of it, but honestly didn't even want to get off the couch most days because of the imminent pain. Eventually I gave in to my doctor's recommendations and had my right knee replaced. This was on May 13th of last year.

The positives:
I am pain free today.
I swam in my first meet 10 months after the surgery and achieved 7 out of 9 personal bests.
Swimming was a big help in the recovery especially kicking.
I am no longer depressed. (mostly caused by persistent pain)
Strength is better than before the surgery.
Can take on many activities that I could not before.
Blood loss was not an issue.
There are many more benefits but mostly all related to removing the pain from day to day living.


The negatives:
Post operative pain is intense (although I now would say if I my other knee went I wouldn't hesitate to have it replaced).
Rehabilitation is tough and painful especially in the early going. (You have to push through - this task is not for wimps).
Rehabilitation can take quite a while (3-6 months).
The pain killers required can really knock you for a loop. (wasn't sure if this should be in the positive column or not :) )

It was about 2 months before my doctor let me get back in the pool. When I did pushing off the wall was the most difficult along with range of motion on the flip turns. However, if you don't push too hard the flip turns are actually a great way to build back the muscles in your legs. Using fins was beneficial provided you don't overdo it.

By 4 months I had rejoined my team practices and could mostly keep up but fatigue was an issue for a little longer.

By 7 months, I started pushing myself pretty hard swimming 5-6 times at 3500-4000 yards per practice.

I am still improving and my knee feels more normal every day.

Let me know if you have any specific questions I can answer, but I am sure double knee replacement is more difficult and definitely requires recovery and rehab at a facility (which I would recommend).

FlowersandFood
July 27th, 2012, 09:22 PM
If it helps, I personally haven't had a total knee replacement but my grandfather has. He says it's one of the best decisions he's ever made too. It took about a full year before he was able to get up and move pain free but the wait was worth it he says. The problem we faced was cost but I found a calculator that might help you if that's one of your concerns. Honestly it really helped us understand our bill when we got it. Unfortunately in our area there aren't that many doctors that are able to do this type of surgery around here so we have to take what we can get, the biggest downsides is our insurance didn't cover him and we'd have to drive miles and miles away to get to another one so we decided based on everything, it was more efficient to pay out of pocket for everything.
However, if we would have known about this calculator sooner we might have considered something else. It lets you customize it to your age, insurance and pre-exisiting conditions and most importantly, your location. I'll share this with you and I hope it helps, good luck with everyhing!!

http://www.healthline.com/surgery/total-knee-replacement/costs

oldwahoo
August 1st, 2012, 01:13 AM
I'm in a similar boat, but have heard mixed comments from those who have had it done - some love it, some have middle of the road comments, some wish they had not done it. I'm not yet at the must have point, and in discussions with my othopedist, I am using a knee brace type device, and when that alone is not bearable, will go Cortisone, then when that fails will go with a relatively recent injectible lubricant - the doc thinks that can buy 2-3 years, and by then, there is a good chance that stem cell regeneration will be a reality and surgery can be avoided. Most estimates are that we are 3-7 years away from viable stem cell regeneration. Check out the website for www.mesoblast.com (http://www.mesoblast.com) - an Australian firm that is ahead of the US and has secured major investments from international pharma. They claim: "The exceptional results of preclinical cartilage trials have shown that a single injection of Mesoblastís allogeneic cell product, RepliCartô, into knee joints damaged by osteoarthritis can prevent further deterioration and regenerate and regrow cartilage tissue lining the damaged joint. Mesoblastís clinical trials are ongoing."

There are other firms also working to perfect this treatment, so its just a matter of when.

getting back the knees of your youth would certainly beat a replacement.

lucyj
August 1st, 2012, 07:25 PM
Thanks for your responses to my post about a total knee replacement. I had my right knee replaced on June 25. So far the knee is doing great! After 2 weeks I was able to start physical therapy, and got back in the water twice last week. However, I didn't expect that the rest of me would feel so crummy! I finally had to admit that 1) I really did have major surgery, and 2) I'm not as young as I remember. One surprise was the amount of bruising totally covering the back on my upper leg, apparently from the tourniquet used to prevent blood loss. Related to that was the muscular pain in my upper leg, again apparently due to the tourniquet. That pain is finally subsiding, thank goodness, and the bruising was gone between weeks 1 and 2.

bbpolhill - thanks for your comments. Sharing your experience has helped me a lot in knowing what to expect, and so far, I can say you are right on. I'm still not pushing off with both legs or doing flip turns. Fatigue, whether after swimming or trying to go into work for a few hours at a time, is a real issue. A pain pill and a nap after PT and work help a lot. :bed: Having a boss who lets me do a lot of my work from home right now has been invaluable.

FlowersandFood - thanks for the cost calculator info. Fortunately for this knee, I'm still covered by my employer-provided insurance. I'll be relying on Medicare (if it's still around) for the other knee, and don't know how that will change my share of the costs.

oldwahoo - So far, I'm in the "love it" category, as the primary excruciating knee pain is gone. Just have the residual pain from trying to get back the range of motion. I had asked about the Dara Torres type of surgery, where, if I remember/understand it correctly, she had her own cartilage grown from some cells, and then implanted into her knee. However, I was told my knees are too far gone for that. But...as you say, maybe in another 3-7 years stem cell regeneration will be a reality. Thanks for the link to the Aussie firm working on that.

SwimYBO
October 4th, 2015, 09:03 AM
Hi Lucyj. Hope your replacement and recovery has gone well. Curious as to your experience and how you are doing now. At some point I will have to have TKR to both knees. I have no doubt the pain reduction will be worth it but absolutely no idea how it impacts swimming and competitive swimming on the other side. Would love to hear your experience.

orca1946
October 8th, 2015, 04:29 PM
Lucy --- it sounds as if all is going well with the rehab. I have had 5 hip surgeries so I know the road back. You are well ahead of the curve! Keep it going.

lucyj
October 9th, 2015, 01:05 AM
SwimYBO - Sorry to take so long to reply - I didn't see your post until yesterday. Yes, my Total Knee Replacement and recovery has gone very well. The pain reduction was extremely well worth it. It has been just over 3 years, and I told someone yesterday that probably 99% of the time I don't even notice the new knee. Now the other one is another story - I will have to have it replaced sooner than later, but it is not yet as painful as the one I had replaced. I worked hard, and successfully, in physical therapy to get my range of motion back, much better than prior to the surgery, at least 130 degrees by the time I left PT, maybe more now. I was back in the water as soon as the surgeon allowed (about 1 month post-surgery, essentially after the incision was fully healed). I do have to take an antibiotic before every visit to the dentist.

My surgeon did not recommend doing both knees at the same time, although he did give me that option. From what I understand, the recovery time is longer. Also, I was able to go home the day after surgery, whereas I have heard that with both knees done at the same day, one has to go to a rehab facility for about 2 weeks. I was uncomfortable enough during recovery and PT with one knee, and can't imagine how miserable I would have felt trying to recover from both at the same time.

I swim whenever I want, and do flip turns at every turn, but for other reasons, I have not competed in about 5 years. If I choose to do so in the future, I am certain I will not have any issues with the knee.

Good luck with your decision - let me know how it goes.

lucyj
October 9th, 2015, 01:10 AM
orca1946 - I think I'm well past "rehab." I consider myself fully recovered from the knee replacement, and am so happy I had it done. Sorry to hear you have had 5 hip surgeries - you must have been a water polo player! I hope your 5th one was the last. :applaud:

renie
October 25th, 2015, 09:02 PM
I'm in a similar boat, but have heard mixed comments from those who have had it done - some love it, some have middle of the road comments, some wish they had not done it. I'm not yet at the must have point, and in discussions with my othopedist, I am using a knee brace type device, and when that alone is not bearable, will go Cortisone, then when that fails will go with a relatively recent injectible lubricant - the doc thinks that can buy 2-3 years, and by then, there is a good chance that stem cell regeneration will be a reality and surgery can be avoided. Most estimates are that we are 3-7 years away from viable stem cell regeneration. Check out the website for www.mesoblast.com (http://www.mesoblast.com) - an Australian firm that is ahead of the US and has secured major investments from international pharma. They claim: "The exceptional results of preclinical cartilage trials have shown that a single injection of Mesoblastís allogeneic cell product, RepliCartô, into knee joints damaged by osteoarthritis can prevent further deterioration and regenerate and regrow cartilage tissue lining the damaged joint. Mesoblastís clinical trials are ongoing."

There are other firms also working to perfect this treatment, so its just a matter of when.

getting back the knees of your youth would certainly beat a replacement.

I am in the same boat as you, oldwahoo. I will wait because I can right now. I am a big baby when it comes to intense pain and only have taken 2 painkillers in my life. The idea of being on pain pills for 4-6 weeks is reason for me to wait.

renie
October 25th, 2015, 09:05 PM
orca1946 - I think I'm well past "rehab." I consider myself fully recovered from the knee replacement, and am so happy I had it done. Sorry to hear you have had 5 hip surgeries - you must have been a water polo player! I hope your 5th one was the last. :applaud:

wow, lucy, you must either be superwoman or very young! That sounds very encouraging and I am so happy for you. How long were you on pain pills? How bad was the pain, and how long was the pain intense? Sorry, but I'm not as brave as you. :(

renie
November 3rd, 2015, 06:10 PM
Lucy, are you around? I posted a week ago about your recovery, but haven't heard from you. Hope you are well.

lucyj
November 6th, 2015, 01:53 AM
wow, lucy, you must either be superwoman or very young! That sounds very encouraging and I am so happy for you. How long were you on pain pills? How bad was the pain, and how long was the pain intense? Sorry, but I'm not as brave as you. :(

Hi Renie - I'm neither young (darn it) nor Superwoman (and, darn it). As far as the pain pills, my prescription for them said to take 1 or 2, every 4 to 6 hours. I took 2 together one time, on probably the first day I was home, but didn't feel good as a result, so never took more than one at a time after that. I don't remember the pain ever being intense...mostly the knee ached, and it was hard to get comfortable. The pain pills allowed me to get comfortable. I never felt a "high" from them. I stepped down the usage from every 4 hours to every 6, then gradually stretched that out until the original prescription of 100 pills was done, in about a month. I did get one refill, but used only about 5 pills, then never needed another one. The surgeon's staff said to take a pain pill before physical therapy, but the physical therapist disagreed, because he wanted to see the true level of pain during each exercise. I did take a pill after PT, during the 1st month. PT was 3 times per week for a month, then twice a week for another month, then once a week for the 3rd month.

Are you scheduled for the surgery yet? All I can say is that I am VERY happy I did it. I almost never think about that knee as being a replacement and not the original. Good luck!