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gailcalled's avatar

What has your experience been with total or partial knee replacement?

Asked by gailcalled (52696 points ) July 30th, 2012

Causes, treatments and long-term results? I am less interested in a twelfth-grade lacrosse player’s knee injury than age-related osteo-arthritis. And do you have non-surgical ideas for aching knees?

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14 Answers

bkcunningham's avatar

@gailcalled, by the Grace of God, I’m very healthy physically. My husband had some serious knee problems that have resulted in surgery, but not replacement. We live in a retirement community and I have many friends who have had knee replacements. One of my dearest friends is fighting the obvious (knee replacement) at this time and the misalignment in the way she struggles to walk is destroying her hips.

I’ve been doing a water class with her that has helped her manage the pain. It is a combination of Tai Chi, Yoga, stretching, posture, core balance…it is very, very spiritual. She is going to turn 70 in September. She said the class helps her pain and the warm water in the pool (outdoor, Florida sunshine heated in the summer pool) helps with the intense pain. She said the coaches vibe is so soothing and positive it helps her mentally as much as physically.

I can tell you the people I personally know; an uncle, a co-worker of my husband, several friends, who had knee replacement all say they wish they had done it sooner because the results were so radically life changing.

bkcunningham's avatar

Also, do you take any type of cholesterol meds that may be causing you additional joint pain?

JLeslie's avatar

A friend of mine does a partial knee technique that is offered only by a few surgeons around the country. Here is a link for him with some information.. Suppossedly it is a very good procedure. I would assume not everyone with knee trouble qualifies for it, but I really have no knowledge about knee problems and procedures. Not that I expect you to come out here for the procedure, there must be someone near you who does it. My only intent is to let you know there are procedures out there that you may not have been informed about, delending on what surgeon you see.

I do have friends who have had knee replacements, and most are happy. One person I know had a full replacement and had to have it redone. He only had one knee done at a time, still has not had the second one done actually, because the first one had gone so badly, he was still in a lot of pain post surgery. The redo did help a lot. Most people I know had both knees done at once.

@bkcunningham The statins have warnings of muscle pain. I am not sure if it is felt as joint pain? I hadn’t heard that. Do you know someone who had that experience?

CWOTUS's avatar

My only “experience” with this has been:

1. I watched a video on PBS more than 12 years ago (I saw it in Michigan, and haven’t lived there since early 2000, so “before then”). I was astonished to see the level of detail they were willing to show of this operation on public TV – you may not want to see it if you’re at all squeamish – but I was blown away by the tooling that had been developed, the prosthetic knee itself, and the processes used in the operating room. It’s not like I’m “looking forward to” having the operation myself someday, but because I watched this video more than 12 years ago (and I’m sure the tools and processes have improved since then), I don’t fear it.

2. I work with a number of people who have had either replacement knees or hips, and I’m always surprised to see how mobile they are, and how quickly. I don’t personally know anyone who had the knee operation, not to ask them details, anyway, but there are some here in the building, and the difference in their gait “before and after” is encouraging.

Sunny2's avatar

Everyone I know who has had the surgery is very happy with it.

bkcunningham's avatar

Joint pain is a common side effect when taking statins, such as Lipitor, @JLeslie.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled My knees are both shot from sports as a kid. I find walking a lot on soft ground, not pavement helps a lot. Or riding a bike on easy terrain or a stationary bike with a light resistance really helps cut back on the pain. The more I work them the better they are.

gailcalled's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: I believe that sports injuries are different from osteoporosis.

I also think that hip replacements are easier and have a shorter rehab time than knees.

My biggest problems is squatting, going up and down stairs and getting out of chairs. I can walk on a treadmill with no difficulty.

@bkcunningham: Sadly I am not in balmy FL. Plus the nearest pool is miles from here and I;m not crazy about the chlorine. My doc did say that both Tai Chi and water aerobics are very helpful.

Anyone worn a knee brace?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled I have the osteo-arthritis as a result of the damage I did to them while I was playing the sports.

bkcunningham's avatar

My husband wore a knee brace continuously before his surgery. He had a torn miniscus that resulted in osteoarthritis. Occasionally now he’ll have an acute flair up and will use the brace.

He also used Pennsaid. Have you tried this? He had a little tiny sample someone gave him and has used it very sparingly. He says it really helps the pain.

I wish you the very best on this journey with knee pain, @gailcalled, and I hope you find a solution that is just right for you. I watched the pain wear on my friends minds as much as it does on their bodies and it is heartbreaking and frustrating to not be able to offer help.

gailcalled's avatar

Thanks, everyone, for the tips and info.

Buttonstc's avatar

Have you looked into Synvisc (or similar products) treatment?

For some people it can help to postpone the need for surgery.

It’s a series of three shots done a week apart and repeated at six month intervals. If the natural cushioning fluid has eroded, it serves to provide cushioning.

I’m assuming you’ve had X-Rays done? If not, that can tell you a lot about the cause of the osteoarthritis.

I’m kind of down to bone on bone with no cushioning left so knee replacement is obviously in my future but I’m trying to put it off as long as I can.

gailcalled's avatar

@Buttonstc: My new PCP mentioned Synvisc and gave me a boring lecture on how to extract the protein from a rooster comb.

I just had dinner with a friend who had a partial knee replacement (only one compartment needed to be replaced) and she is thrilled. She is able to kayak, hike and get up and down from chairs with ease.

The re-hab was onerous, however. I was part of the support staff; she went to a rehab facility for a week and then home but very limited for three weeks with a daily visiting Physical Therapist.

My friend also had us, her friends, help with shopping, cooking, cleaning, picking up mail and emptying the litter box.

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