Total Knee Replacement before & after pictures + what it’s like 6 weeks later

My 6 Week Visit with Dr. Thorpe

“6 Weeks” is the party line for recovery after a total knee replacement.  The reality?  There is still a long way to go…

Before I met with Dr. Thorpe yesterday for my 6 week review, I had xrays taken.  Then we met and he checked my range of motion… “cold” I was 0 – 115 degrees (I can get to 120 when I’m warmed up).  He was pretty happy with that -“cold” at 115 degrees is 2 degrees more than where I started pre-op.

Then we looked at the x-rays…and we compared my “after and before” pictures

“After” with ConforMIS knee implant and “Before” check out the bone on bone.  My right knee also shows some arthritic changes.

“After” medial side view of my new ConforMIS knee…no more arthritis! “Before” bone on bone…the diseased arthritic parts of the bones in the joint were all cut away…so technically I no longer have arthritis in my left knee.  How about that!

Some new exercises from PT this week!

6 Weeks Post Op – healed yet?

Here is the reality – and what you can expect if you go into a knee replacement STRONG and well prepared.  At 6 weeks prior to my surgery date, I started training for the surgery like it was an athletic event with weight training and cycling.  It has paid off because my doctor and PTs say I am ahead of the curve of typical recovery.  STILL, here is how it looks –

  1. Total Knee Replacement hurts.  You are down for a good 2 weeks or more.  Don’t plan on doing anything of consequence, find a good mini-series to keep you entertained.  In 4 weeks I watched the entire 6 seasons of Downton Abbey – and on the final episode celebrated my last day of recovery on the couch with frozen peas packed around my leg.  In week 3 I went back to work 1/2 time; in week 4 bumped up to 3/4 time.  I was exhausted at the end of the days and looked forward to my time with Downton Abbey as I iced my knee.
  2. You are not fully recovered at 6 weeks.  They say that tissues take that long to adapt to the trauma of the surgery.  As far as I can tell, I’m still adapting because my leg is still painful.  My activities are still very limited (see the blogpost about the PT smackdown).
  3. The process of regaining range of motion will take work – the bigger the range, the longer it will take.  One patient told me that with the ConforMIS custom knee that he reached 138 degrees and it took 2 years.  It is good to know you just have to stay committed and you might get there.
  4. Regular activity at 12 Weeks? My doctor said that at 3 months post op (in 6 more weeks) I should expect to return to a regular level activity – biking as much as I want, walking as much as I want.  From where I sit at 6 weeks (halfway), I still have a lot of progress to make.
  5. One of my PTs says that I MIGHT be ready for my big bike trip this summer – Leg #2 of the Corner to Corner Bellingham to Key West adventure.  This year we start in Jackson Wyoming and end on the border of Iowa.  MIGHT is a mighty big word here – I will have to make steady progress to be able to heft a fully loaded touring bike that weighs 75 lbs.
  6. Don’t forget to ice: At 6 weeks I am still icing my knee and will continue to do so until it no longer hurts or is swollen.  I usually ice for 20 minutes after cycling or my PT activities.

11 Comments

  • Dianne says:

    Robin,
    Keep up the good work ! So hard not to do more than
    what the PT’s tell you! Less is alot more!
    Great info!
    Thanks,

  • Carolyn says:

    On June 8 I had total knee replacement by a very famous ortho surgeon who has done 25,loo of these procedures. I was I rehab hospital for two weeks. It been 6 weeks now and I still need help with everyday chores. I’m planing to see a pt in my town for an evaluation. The hospital sent pt for 2 weeks. They say it will be all worth this in time. Hope so. I was knocked knee before and operation was a complete success according to surgeon. I get discouraged cause of my restricted life.

    • Robin Robertson says:

      Carolyn! Sorry for this late reply…how are you doing now?
      Any improvement? What was your mobility like before the TKR?
      I hope you are getting around better!
      ~Robin

  • Cass B says:

    I had TKR 08-31-18 outpatient- driving day 25, back to work day 38…I was at 119 ROM day 2, I am able to walk up stairs without any issues (walking downstairs I appear a little more feeble). My knee pops with every step (no pain) and moves to the right when I sit down (again no pain), hoping the popping and awkward movement to the right goes away with a little more time but all in all I am extremely happy with my recovery and now feel much more comfortable about having my left knee done if my Dr. and I decide that it’s necessary!

    • Robin Robertson says:

      Cass –
      What a fantastic recovery! I hope that your popping and awkward movement will go away. I still have a metallic click with each step, but no pain. Way better than my previous painful pop and snap! I love hearing about your success. Thank you for sharing.
      ~Robin

      • Janet carbone says:

        Hi I just had a TKR 2 weeks ago. For some reason I feel I’m not coming along. I’ve never had so much pain. All I do is cry and I never considered myself a whimp but I guess I am. I just feel so tired and discouraged. Please tell me this is normal

        • Robin Robertson says:

          Hi Janet,
          It’s been a little more time since your surgery. How are you doing now? I remember thinking that at 6 weeks the worst of the pain was gone – but there was still so much more work to do for recovery. Hang in there! YES – it hurts… but it will get better. And then you’ll have your first moment where there is NO PAIN and you’ll know it was worth it.

  • Nina says:

    I had my TKP on 9/17/18 on my left side almost 6 weeks in still painful and Swelling but doing good In therapy I’m at a 107゚ now. I had my right side done about 3 years ago 7/15. The heal time back then Went faster than this time I think because I lived upstairs and going up and down for appt. I was out of therapy in 8 weeks. But not this time will be a little longer
    But still planning on going back to work at 12 weeks in December sometime because of the job I do. Love reading about other TKR success. Helps me to push harder. Oh and about the pop and snaps I still have them in my right knee 3 years later no pain.

    • Robin Robertson says:

      Hi Nina,
      How are you doing with your knee now? I’m more than a year out from my TKR and still no pain – but it is easy to forget how those first few months were so much work. Keep at it!

  • Cathy says:

    4 weeks post op , total knee replacement, just recovering from suspected infection, only have 70 degree bend, extremely swollen and still using crutch as balance off. Physio pushes so hard , but so little improvement, very frustrating, no physio in hospital, just kick you out once you can stand and steady or not , do some stairs . I hope this heals fast, as right now I regret having it, the pain is worse then before .

    • Robin Robertson says:

      Cathy – how are you doing? I hope your knee has settled down so that you can work on recovery. Be patient, healing takes time. My PT was wise in advising me to let the tissues heal (reduce swelling, work on range of motion)…THEN start working on strength. I hope you are feeling better and making progress.

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