Four Weeks After Bilateral Knee Replacement
Melissa’s Story (Owings Mills, MD)
Melissa put together the perfect recovery for herself by doing the right things before and after her bilateral knee replacement surgery. She provides us with an update four weeks after bilateral knee replacement in her own words, and in the videos below.
Melissa’s Recovery: In Her Own Words
My name is Melissa. I’m 47 years old and I had bilateral knee replacement surgery four weeks ago. I used the X10 the day that I returned home from the hospital. And now four weeks later I’m able to walk without the aid of a cane or any other device. I’m looking forward to having my new knees.
Knee Pain at an Early Age
I started having knee problems at 35. I had been doing a class at the gym on a treadmill and the next day my knees just blew up and I figured I tore something. So I saw an orthopedist and was told that my knees were ‘twice my age’. And that I was ‘way too young’ right now, but someday I’d need a knee replacement. And I was advised to take Ibuprofen and just deal with it. So over the years I saw an orthopedist and a rheumatologist looking for help.
Injections, Shots, Managing My Knee Pain
I had injections and shots and all of that to try to manage the pain. At that age I was quite active, but I wasn’t able to run anymore. I had pain just standing up from a chair because my knees would be so stiff. I would have pain during the night. There was a period of years when I felt like I was managing it quite well. I wasn’t seeing any doctors or having any injections at that point. But I would have copious amounts of Ibuprofen. I was able to do most of the things I wanted to do, but certainly not everything that somebody my age could do.
One Year Ago
Then about a year ago they started getting fussier and I was experiencing significantly more pain. I sought out another orthopedist. And I was fully expecting to just get some shots and to be told again that I was not a candidate for total knee replacement.
Dr. Richard Winakur
By this time I was 46. On my visit with Dr. Winakur I said, “look, I know I can’t have a knee replacement, but if there’s something else I can do…” He had taken my x-ray and he said, ‘oh no, you are a candidate. If you want a knee replacement you just let me know, but it is completely your decision. You’ll know when the time is right’. That was kind of a revelation to me.
Nonetheless. I did go through a series of cortisone shots, which helped for a time. And after having more conversations with Dr. Winakur about what was involved with knee replacement, I decided to go ahead with the surgery. He said to me it’s a quality of life issue, and that the implants are getting better and better every year.
OK, I’m Done!
I said, ‘you know what? I’m done. I’m done being this constrained at this age. I want to be able to be more active and just walk my dog pain-free.’ So I thought, okay, I’m definitely gonna do it. Then the question was, do I do one or both knees? Dr Winakur felt very strongly, given my age and fitness prior to surgery, that I was an absolute candidate for bilateral. And to me that sounded like a more pragmatic approach. Anyway, it’s one and done. So I went for it and I’m glad I did it that way.
So it was NOT so painful
One of my big surprises is that, at least in my experience, it wasn’t this horrible, painful, awful thing that so many people warned me about. Prior to surgery I was a little nervous because so many people said I was crazy. But St Joseph’s Medical Center was great. My pain was managed well in the hospital, and by the time I got home I was able to keep track of it. And like I said, I got on the X10 immediately. I think just having something that I could do for myself, to move toward healing, was great psychologically. In fact the machine promotes a reduction in swelling. I think I just put that together, and it ended up being a pretty painless process.
On X10: Dynamic Strength and The Pump Test
I had the help of the physical therapist at home who helped me to fire those muscles up. We started doing work there and then we moved on to the Dynamic Strength exercises on the X10, primarily the Pump Test. This was where you’re pushing down against weight to get the quadriceps muscles back in the game.
Managing My X10 Time
What worked best for me was two X10 sessions of 45 minutes on each leg. That’s a big chunk of time when you’ve got two legs. I did toy around trying three 30 minute sessions once. I just preferred a morning and a late afternoon session.
So I did 45 minutes on one leg, ice the knee, then 45 minutes on the next leg and then ice. And after a 45 minute time I felt like that was enough time to really get the joint loose and push my range of motion a bit.
And I would feel it a little bit, but not to where I was screaming out in pain at all. I mean, it’s just that like ‘breathe through it kind of pain’ is all, nothing. And if that’s too much, you can back off.
Loss of Strength
In fact, one of the most surprising things to me through this whole surgery was what happens to your muscles. It was crazy. It was almost like they were paralyzed at first. I was somebody who had most of my strength in my legs. And to have them turn to mush was extraordinary and disconcerting, to say the least.
Driving Before Two Weeks Was Done
The big turning point for me came at the end of week two when my PT moved me from a walker to a cane. That made me feel like I had a lot more freedom and could get around better. And at that point I was able to start driving too. That was another big game changer. You start to feel a little bit more like yourself when you can have independence. I was excited by that.
I started cooking and doing laundry and being on my feet a lot more, probably even a little too much a couple of times. I would feel the tightness and the stiffness come back. But fortunately I still had the X10 at that point, so I could loosen up my joints by doing a session, with the range of motion on the X10, which, kept me limber.
Next Stop Peloton
So now that I’ve finished up with the X10, I’m lucky that I have a Peloton bike to turn to. That was something that I was avid about prior to surgery. I have already started using it a bit. And so I will just fall into that pattern. Now that I don’t have the X10 my daily routine will be to take a class on my stationary bike. And of course, doing the physical therapist’s exercises; they give you plenty to work on, so I’ll do that too.
Editor’s Note: To learn how to use a stationary bike after knee replacement, click here:
Getting the Most out of a Stationary Bike After Knee Surgery
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog.” We step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health as with this article on ‘Four Weeks After Bilateral Knee Replacement’.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, and writers. All our work is related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. This is for you if you have a surgery upcoming, or in the rear-view mirror. Or maybe you just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery. Executive Editor: PJ Ewing
To subscribe to the blog click here.