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Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery?
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Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/03/2013 12:00:47 MDT Print View

I'm 10 weeks post op from a partial knee replacement. My doctor says I'm on schedule with my recovery but I'm not close to being able to hike or backpack. I'm walking the roads around my house in the hills which is my normal routine. I'm doing OK on uphill and what little flat there is. I have to go very slow on downhills. I'm up to 3 miles but am sore when done. I'm not unhappy with my progress but thought I'd be ready to backpack by May, which would be 14 weeks or more post op. That seems unlikely right now. I know all recoveries are different but I'd like to hear from anyone that has gone through a full or partial as to how their recovery went specifically about hiking and backpacking. Thanks.

Edited by rlnunix on 04/03/2013 12:01:44 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/03/2013 19:10:48 MDT Print View

All knee replacements are different...and don't be too discouraged (or encouraged) by what your surgeon says: he or she is only looking at the bone and incision healing and not much functional. This is not a dig at orthopods (well, kind of...) but just a result of their focus on the surgery itself.

I've rehabbed hundreds of knees in my career, and some are super fast and some super slow, most in between. I hope you have a good PT, and if not, then get one.

How is your range of motion??

Focus a great deal on two things in particular: your hips/butt muscles, and eccentric exercises for your quads (that's the lowering of slowly lowering down a step). Tell your PT to focus on going down stairs...and you could start carrying a little bit of weight on your walks around your neighborhood. Yes you'll be tired and sore, but as long as its just tired and sore you're good.

As for when to take a trip? I'm assuming half day hikes would be possible? Start there and judge how well you're doing. If you can do 3 miles in your neighborhood now you should be ready for a short easy trip relatively soon. Take pain pills (!) and expect to be sore, but honestly, if you can do 3 miles in your 'hood now, once you can go downhill with more confidence you'll be ready to give it a try. Just be sure to ease into it.

Feel free to ask specific questions if you'd like...I don't mind a bit.

(Jenmitol AT gmail DOT com)

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/03/2013 19:48:46 MDT Print View

Thanks Jen. I'm very happy with my orthopedist. He, as everyone else, did say that every recovery is different but the fact that I was active, and relatively young at 53 for this procedure anyway, I'd likely recover faster than most. As long as I did the work in PT. So maybe my expectations were a bit too high. I have a great PT who's guided me and my entire family through many rehabilitations. One of the exercise he has me doing is heel touches off of a step which sounds like what you are suggesting. We live in a 3 level house so stairs are a normal part of the routine as well. He also has me doing reformer work (we have one at home as well), stretch band exercises, stretches using non-stretchy materials (I use a cut down bed sheet), stationary bike stretches as well as normal riding, and some others I can only do at PT. I do have a lot of faith in him and I think that's going well. But I have got stuck at 132 degree range of motion (152 in good knee) and am trying to increase that. I tend to overdue it on my own and end up in a 2 steps forward, 1 step back scenario. I probably should start adding some weight on my walks. And I know of a relatively flat place to hike in a high valley that would be a great place to start with once the road is open to it for a easy re-introduction to backpacking.

Thanks again for the input. This site has been a big part of keeping me focused on my goal of getting out again as soon as I can.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/03/2013 20:26:59 MDT Print View

Randy, you aren't doing so bad. Almost thirty years ago I had my right knee reconstructed after a skiing injury. Ten weeks in a hard cast! It took me six months just to get 90 degrees of flexion going in it. However, the best advice I got was from a PT. She told me to get in a swimming pool and do any kind of a swimming kick, and do that every day. Three months later, it had worked. Eight months after surgery, I hiked Mount Whitney in a day, and I was only 10% slower than my PR time for the uphill.

Get some young pups to take you backpacking, and load them up with the excess weight. Tell them that you will do the cooking, instead.


Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Llama time on 04/03/2013 20:35:41 MDT Print View

You know you bought them for a reason. It just wasn't the one you expected.

Good luck with the recovery. My dad is on the NHS waiting list for a full knee replacement after the half replacement didn't work. Good old socialized medicine. He's wishing he was in recovery mode right now.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/03/2013 21:15:28 MDT Print View

Randy it really does sound like you're doing great. I would actually encourage you to get out and hike sooner rather than later. Make it easy and short and take trekking poles...I think you'll feel better about yourself. It will be tough and you'll struggle, but do it on a nice day and when you're feeling pretty will do better than you think and it will do wonders for you mentally.

I'm pretty big into getting people out to do what they want as soon as even remotely possible. I find it helps so much with the frustration level and gets patients excited about getting back.

Good luck...and get out there! A lot is going to happen in a month...I say go for it!

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/04/2013 13:54:08 MDT Print View

Thanks for the encouragement!

Stuart, those llamas would need some serious training to get into real packing shape. They're pasture potatoes at this point. The only exercise they get anymore is occasionally harassing deer. But feel free to come by and take them out!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: Anyone with experience with recovery from knee replacement surgery? on 04/04/2013 14:18:02 MDT Print View

I didn't know about your replacement surgery, Randy. I wish you all the best in your rehab. I'm betting that Jenifer is right--just get out there and do it as best you can. And hey, our weather is starting to turn good again, so it's perfect timing. Maybe Stuart and I can drive down and we'll have, you know, a llama rodeo or something.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
No problem here on 04/11/2013 07:26:48 MDT Print View

I had a total knee replacement done in '98. I've hiked plenty since then, in the Sierra and other places. I experience no pain or weakness in the leg. Just last September I did an eight-night solo in the Eagle Cap wilderness in Oregon. Do the work your PT recommends, keep your weight down, and it's easy-peasy.