Knee replacement pain control: Help my new knee... - Pain Concern

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Knee replacement pain control

Tigger21 profile image

Help my new knee has been in for a week. I spent additional days in hospital because of the pain and needing the 90 degree bend. Now I am home and desperate to "get on with it" but pain levels during and after physio are unbelievable. Does anyone have any tips or advise apart from more painkillers?

13 Replies

Hey Tigger- love the name!

Take as much painkillers as is needed to be able to get on with the physio. Within reason- ie - if you are knocked out , you won't be able to do it.

The sooner you do the physio, the quicker the muscles ,ligaments etc will get back to normal.

Are you allowed compresses ?

All the best. 😎

Tigger21 profile image
Tigger21 in reply to Madlegs1

Am allowed ice on it. Pain is in the joint like someone stabbing me with an ice pick when I go to lift my leg horizontally, when lying down. Cannot lift my leg back onto the bed from sitting without it being supported. Is this "normal"?

Sophs123 profile image
Sophs123 in reply to Tigger21

Hi rigger! My dad had the sam operation a year ago now and I'm afraid to say he is still suffering with pain. It seems to vary so much from person to person. One woman he knows who had it done also was fine after 6 months. Hes been on co codamol since the op and has just been told to stop taking them. Keep with the pain killers and physio and hopefully you'll start feeling better. I think the feeling/pain you're getting sounds pretty normal to me going by what my dad had told me his feels like. Good luck!

in reply to Tigger21

Yes this is normal, I couldn't lift my leg onto the bed for at least three months, the hospital gave me one of those stretchy bands to put under my foot and I used to lift my leg with that. You only had it done a week ago, it takes time, to get back to some normality. Also it should feel a bit easier when the stitches come out. I also found ice packs helped but wrap it in something first or you could get an ice burn. The hospital gave me one that I could strap around my knee. Don't over do it.

lana59 profile image
lana59 in reply to Tigger21

Hi Tigger21. It is quite normal to be unable to lift your leg horizontally after any serious knee surgery, in fact my consultant told the physios I was not to do ANY straight leg lifts horizontally for at least six weeks and that was after my second knee stabilisation op. He told me it would apply also when I have my full compartment knee replacement. Take it easy, plenty of ice packs and rest with light physio to start and use meds when your body tells you to. After 4 knee ops I found this to be the best course for me although I had fantastic intensive physio for first knee stabilisation at UCH which had me up and running (literally) 7 weeks after full length plaster removed. I don't understand this except maybe it was because I was only 24 at the time. Now at 57, I find it a great deal more difficult to recover from surgery. I hope things improve for you soon - maybe start with some pooh sticks and build on that?

Hi Tigger21. I feel for you..... I can only say check that all is medically ok....then take pain meds as needed...and be patient with yourself. My son had surgery to put his knee back together after an accident....more wire than bone now! He was very stoic but it took a long time and progress was slow. He was frustrated by how long it took to even move the leg a teeny bit after surgery......but he slowly and gradually improved, did his exercises as advised (through gritted teeth) and is now strong and active again. Keep chin up....look after yourself and allow yourself to heal.

Many thanks for your reply Shawnie. Have never known pain like it. When I take enough pain killers to be effective I am out for the count. I wake up and off we go again.



Don't be so 'desperate' to get on with it. You only had the operation a week ago! A knee replacement is extremely painful, I know I've had one. But beware of physiotherapists (or physioterrorists as we called them in our ward) who are so pushy about getting you to do lots of exercises immediately, with the implied threat that if you don't do them, you will not recover. This is NOT true. I took it slowly & I am fine. If you need to sleep, then sleep. Don't feel guilty about it. Sleep and rest is an important part of the healing process. If you can't do all your exercises, and need to miss a day, the world won't come to an end. Do them the next day. If you're really struggling, do an exercise once, instead of 10 reps or whatever. I found in the initial stages that sleep was crucial - but just getting up & walking (hobbling) around every now & then to go to the loo or kitchen, or just to do a lap of the bedroom is good exercise too. I struggled a lot with the pain, the worst pain I had ever experienced, so I do sympathise, but it will improve slowly. It's a process. Just take it carefully at your own speed, a day at a time. Don't put yourself under too much pressure or you will start beating yourself up about it. Do what you can do - but gently. Exercise is important but don't overstretch yourself. i attend the pain clinic at my hospital and the golden rule is "pace yourself." If you overdo it one day, you'll be worse the following day & then possibly have to rest for a few days. That will set you back to square one, so is totally counter-productive. Only you know what feels right for you, we are all wired differently. Also two suggestions, there's an online forum called Bonesmart which has a knee replacement section with lots of info, advice & shared experiences with other sufferers. Secondly, when the wound has healed over (check with your surgeon) go to your local swimming pool, and just do your Physio in the water. Even simply walking in the water is good. The water supports you your weight & makes the exercise less painful. You will get cold quite quickly so no need to stay in long as the muscles tighten up. Some public pools have steam baths or saunas & that's great after a dip. Also the pool will need disabled access (there was a hoist at my pool, I couldn't get up or down the ladder) & it would be an idea to take a friend with you. A proper hydrotherapy pool is ideal (some hospitals have them) as the water is super warm, but sadly few & far between. It's the best exercjse ever. Good luck. Try not to get too disheartened. Pain is awful but it will lessen as time goes on, you've just got to get through a day at a time. There is also an excellent book on mindfulness & pain which I'd recommend: 'Mindfulness for Health: A Practical Guide to Relieving Pain, Reducing Stress & Restiring Wellbeing' by Vidyamala Burch & Danny Penman, published Piatkus. Mindfulness can be as effective as drugs & worth investigating, and this book was written by someone who has severe spinal injury, so knows firsthand. All the best to you, Bonnie

Dearest Bonnie can't thank you enough for such a kind and timely reply. Have had a really bad morning and your words have had me in tears - in a good way - relief that I am not doing something wrong and can give myself permission to sleep. The "professionals" want you to go for it no matter how much it hurts, have at times felt bullied by the recovery process in the hospital. "You only have a short window of time" "it's now or never for a good outcome" were the phrases left ringing in my ears upon discharge.

Many thanks for the alternative gentle approach that will still work, and the info on support groups etc.

Bless you from Tigger

Find out when the injury is supposed to have healed then go for muscle stretching. The muscles in the area are likely to become overcontracted and will need to be stretched out. How when and where is something you will need to ask the medical consultant about.

Hope this helps

Go to a physical rehab until you consistently are at 90 degrees as they can offer all kinds of various therapies to help with fluid build up and pain medication to make it happen. Otherwise you will be lucky to get 90 degrees even with months of rigorous PT.

I had to have my knee replacement done a second time 18 months after as the first was done incorrectly. It is now over 3 1/2 years and I' still in constant pain and cannot walk properly. No amount of painkillers help and the surgeon says he can find nothing wrong :-(

I am waiting to go in for knee replacement

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