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Comparisons & A TKR

Hi my favorite readers! Recently there has been an influx of concerns from patients going through the tkr recuperation process. It seems that the subject of comparisons is a popular online tkr search term. (Thank you Google Statistics..:) ) I wanted to take a moment and share my thoughts of this to – hopefully – help others.

It is far too easy to compare yourself to others along the pathway. We all do it. However, continually using this as a gauge of your success can lead to frustration, depression and hopelessness. Please remember that everyone is different. We all go into the surgery with different backgrounds, health issues, and mindsets. We all come out with an artificial knee that demands intensive measures to get us back to a functioning level. Comparisons can be useless.

Here are some personal examples:
A gentleman and I were at the same time period after our tkr surgeries. He was wheeling away on the recumbent exercise bike like he was training for the Tour De France. Me…I was struggling to finish a complete rotation on the upright stationary bike. It took everything I had. When I questioned my therapist I was told that he was at a different level than I was. (Here’s another kicker….he had a bilateral surgery. YIKES!!)

There was the time during the first three weeks post-tkr that I saw others doing aquatic rehabilitation. Get me in there. Who wants fitness equipment when water’s around????? Again…I posed that question and was told I needed land, not water. Big time bummer. Back to the tortuous equipment.

Then there is the written literature we receive about tkr recuperation exercises. Nowhere does it state that we will start our endeavor with a leg that is an entire dead weight. At least mine was. For some reasons, the illustrations “assume” we can move our leg. The heel slide is a perfect example. All we need to do – according to the helpful instructions – is slowly slide our heel and bend our knee. Right. No matter what position I started in, that movement was utterly impossible for me. Noticing a slight 1/16” movement was a dramatic improvement – and that didn’t happen for days after my tkr. It’s far too easy to compare oneself to these exercise illustrations. Don’t do it.

Flexibility after a tkr is always a key concern among our community, it seems. At least, that’s the impression I get from comments and online search results. Here’s my story on that: My flexibility is about 95, 5.5 years post-tkr. I have written about this before. It was at that level prior to my surgery, therefore I am not that concerned about it. It’s just great walking without pain! Anyways…if I was to compare myself to others, I could easily consider a manipulation. Many of you do that. Only thing is, my inflexibility is due to 30-year old scar tissue. What’s the point of having that tissue removed? And…go under the knife again???? I think not.

On a positive comparison note…There was one Korean War vet who was visiting the tkr surgeon the same time I was. We chatted for a bit. Turns out he went through a bilateral (two knees) tkr surgery. And…he was jumping out of his seat without assistance, walking without any limp, perky and positive, and just astounding to witness. He was an inspiration. What I’m trying to say is…sometimes comparisons can be positive. Just choose the correct role model. 🙂

Well, the time has come to end this article. I hope my insight and first-hand experiences have helped you in some way. Do the best you can do and you will succeed. Keep the faith, baby! (Couldn’t resist that…:) )



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2 comments to Comparisons & A TKR

  • Very nice but important article for joint replacement recipient’s to read and understand. Too many of us get caught up in how well or poorly someone else had done in their recuperation process. I see this almost on daily basis and advise all my TKR patients not to get caught up in the game of comparison. This can lead many to becoming discouraged if they are not doing as well as their neighbor did for instance.

    And remember the longer someone has had a procedure done the wilder the stories can get. Some will lead you to believe they never had anesthesia or took pain medication during the whole process.

    All of us will progress a little differently but the key is work towards your goals and listen to your body. If you do you will be just fine.

  • Hi Richard,
    Thanks so much for your wonderful feedback on my article. As a PT professional, your insight is especially beneficial for others to read and learn from.
    Keep in touch and good luck!

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