Getting Past a Stiff Knee
by Marilyn Jonker
Help! I’m stuck!
Yes, that was me nine weeks post-surgery for total knee replacement. A stiff knee. I could not get past 100º on my own or 105º with the therapist. For several years I had been going to the gym three or four times a week for yoga, Pilates, stretch and flex, and interval classes, so this degree of motion was not acceptable to me.
Knee replacement surgery can be performed as a partial or a total knee replacement. In general, the surgery consists of replacing the diseased or damaged joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.
The operation typically involves substantial postoperative pain, and includes vigorous physical rehabilitation. The recovery period may be 6 weeks or longer and may involve the use of mobility aids (e.g. walking frames, canes, crutches) to enable the patient’s return to preoperative mobility. As many as 10% of total knee replacement patients must deal with some sort of stiff knee condition after surgery.
After Knee Surgery – A Stiff Knee
After surgery I had a full leg brace to protect the ligaments, an unexpected experience. Over 50 years ago, I tore the cartilage when skiing, and the protocol at that time was to remove it. Over the years my leg became bowed and the ligaments were stretched and thin. This brace which was a “necessary evil” did not allow good flexion at the beginning of physical therapy, and I needed it for four weeks.
Once the brace was off I was able to make some progress. After 5 weeks I could finally pedal around on the bike. I went to every PT appointment and faithfully did the home exercises. Still the improvement was small and I was beginning to get discouraged. At 9 weeks I was still stuck at 100º/105º. After an appointment with my surgeon for a possible Manipulation Under Anesthesia, he decided against it since there was a possibility of the ligaments pulling away from the bone, and this would be a nine month recovery.
Turning to the X10 for a Stiff Knee
A friend of mine had mentioned that her friend had used the X10 machine with very good results after a double knee replacement. She sent me the link, and after researching it I knew I had to give it a try. I was not sure that it would work since I was well past surgery, but it was worth trying. Being a former teacher, I was used to using a variety of techniques and a large bag of tricks. I was 10 weeks post surgery when it was delivered and set up, and I used the X10 for 14 days, three times a day in conjunction with regular therapy appointments.
Real Progress – Finally!
The progress was amazing, and for the last two days I made it to 130! The coaches who called or texted me every day were very helpful and offered tips to increase the flexion. I was not having a problem with extension, so I only went to 40 in order to spend more time on flexion. The support offered by X10 Therapy is top notch!
The X10 accurately measures both extension and flexion with highly sophisticated sensors.
If a patient approaches discomfort, the X10 feels that and adjusts to keep the patient out of pain.
Extension is important for two critical reasons: 1) if you don’t have full extension, you are much more likely to fall, falling is one of the most dangerous things you can do, and 2) if your legs cannot go completely straight then your quadriceps muscles are always activated and tire very quickly, limiting what you can do.
Flexion is important is because it is the primary determinant of what you can do. For example, you must be able to bend your leg so your feet are underneath a chair to stand up from the chair without using the chair’s arms.
The Gift of Flexion and X10
I know that I need to continue home exercises to keep up the flexion. But I was thrilled to see progress each day on the X10.
This has been the best gift. And I am looking forward to enjoying the holidays with my daughters, their families, and two precious grandchildren!
Thank you, X10!
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog.” We step back and give you a broad perspective on knee health, surgery and recovery. And you will read articles like this one, The Stiff Knee (by Marilyn Jonker).
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here.