There is no question pain can affect anyone following knee replacement surgery. Anyone who has had any joint replaced will tell you the aftermath is not an easy path, particularly pain wise.
Some women who are fellow knee warriors compared knee replacement surgery with giving birth – and often stated knee replacements were more painful!
Perhaps they have a point. I never had children but can identify with pain and discomfort following TKR.
Recovering from having a baby doesn’t take 12-18 months, for example. Thousands of knee replacements are done daily in the United States (and add in countless procedures from other parts of the world). Pain management is vital in the post-op stage; while any surgical procedure is associated with post-operative discomfort, total knee replacements pain can be manageable with pain medications. Here is the catch: pain medication works best when patients experience pain in its early stages, which is why it’s essential to request medication while hospitalized (or immediately take the recommended dose while recovering at home) during the first sign of discomfort. By the time you’re in total agony, it will take longer for pain relief to kick in from medication. Believe me, I know!
Ice packs also help to some degree; one can never use too much ice, especially in the early stages of recovery. Physical therapy can be painful following surgery, but think of the alternative of not doing those exercises at all. PT pain is good pain. Not moving the knee at all is only inviting additional trouble.
A Health Day News article reprinted on WebMD discusses study that types of anesthesia and patients’ weight were also factors in the levels of discomfort affecting women following TKR.
Younger women tend to have higher levels of pain than their mature counterparts, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or following joint injuries. The most pain experienced is usually during rest, so physical activity does indeed benefit us in the long run no matter how much it hurts at the time.
Some hospitals’orthopedic surgery departments offer a pre-op joint replacement workshops. I highly recommend attending these; pain and options for effective management are two of many topics discussed. If this is your first surgery, joint replacement workshops are beneficial in giving patients general ideas what to expect. Anyone needing subsequent surgeries, these workshops are great refreshers.
Many who have knee replacement surgery eventually conclude that pain relief from having TKR is well worth various stages of discomfort following surgery. I always said my biggest regret is not having mine done earlier, pain, stiffness, and other post-op effects. Keep in mind this stage is only temporary.
What about you? How did you manage your post-TKR pain and do you think the procedure was worth it? Was the pain indeed worse than giving birth or about the same?