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Week 12 is that light at the end of the tunnel that every knee replacement patient is working towards. At 12 weeks, the doctor usually gives the green light to go back to all normal activities. I had been looking forward to that appointment since my hospital stay. As crazy as it sounds, it is what helped me through some of the more rocky times I had a surprisingly challenging first few weeks of knee rehab. You can read about weeks 1-4 HERE, and a more calm but still interesting week 5-7 HERE. Now that you are all caught up, let us dig into the last part of knee replacement surgery rehab. My unique, Weeks 8 through 12 of knee rehab. Here’s my story.
Pain Meds and Housework
Week 8 of knee replacement recovery was when I started feeling more like myself again. The pain began to lessen quite a bit. I still required one prescription-strength NSAID but was able to come off of all other pain medication besides the occasional Tylenol after a rough physical therapy appointment.
I was moving around the whole house, instead of just my big bedroom. I started doing a lot of the housework again. This part stunk. I enjoyed all the help I was getting from the kids and my husband. The break from cleaning and especially cooking was nice! But my newfound freedom after eight weeks of well, let me be frank, misery was fantastic.
I didn’t dive in and do all the chores. I would do a little here and do a little there. But I was able to do most of the types of housework that I was able to do before. Vacuuming still was a little bit of a challenge. I could feel a little bit of extra pressure when I would push that darn machine back and forth on the carpets. It was also difficult to reach lower areas to dust or wash where I would have to get down on the floor and have to get back up. Man those robot vacuums that kept showing up in my social media scrolls were looking nicer and nicer.
Driving no longer bothered me. I was able to do the distances I needed for my kids’ school and extracurricular activities. I did find myself still feeling like I need to adjust my leg while driving. Almost as though it would get “lazy” and start to fall off the pedal, or at least feel like it was. I would move it back where it felt more comfortable and where I felt on the pedal more and would continue driving.
Every so often, I would get that stiff feeling in the knee. If able, I would pop the van on the cruise and move my knee as much as I could to try and “oil it up a bit” until I could get out and walk around.
PT usually starts to wind down during week 8 through 12 of knee rehab. For me, I still went two times a week, but as I was drafting this post, I was getting discharged. There was some fear about this and excitement. I’m excited about not having to be bound to going to rehab certain times on certain days. At the same time, though, there is this fear of the unknown.
The future of my knee will be in my own hands, without the trained professional to guide me. My PT will not be there barking at me for pushing too hard, or also tell me when it’s okay to ramp it up because my knee can handle it. This is a lot of pressure to put on a person who has had knee pain for 12 years, don’t you think!
As I say goodbye and thank you to my PT, she reassures me I’ll do fine, and I can always call her or the surgeon if I have any questions. “Oh yeah, good point,” I say with a laugh! Just need to take it slow, and if anything hurts, back it down. Don’t forget to progress, though. I have big goals to achieve. I also do not want to lose all this progress I’ve already made either. Ready or not, It was time for me to be on my own for knee rehab. I can do this…
Exercising Week 12 of Knee Replacement Rehab
For my birthday, my husband got me a gym membership to the YMCA here in town. I was pretty excited about this gift as they had all the same equipment I used at my PT place, an indoor track, plus a pool! The goal was to continue the at-home exercises PT gave me, along with walking roughly 3 miles a day.
Once I get cleared by the doctor, I also want to add some aerobic swimming classes to my routine. Water is excellent for removing weight off the joints while still allowing you all the same aerobic benefits of a land workout.
Muscle Soreness and Weakness
After suffering from a Bad Knee for 12 years, it was almost surreal not to have nagging knee pain with every step. There is still definitely some stiffness in these four weeks, and muscle soreness the more activity you do. For me, all of the muscles in my whole right leg had to get used to the new way I was walking. Plus, after so many years of inactivity, my weak muscles were sore daily as they were getting used to the higher demands of activity I was doing. I also started to have an issue with shin splints. Man, did those hurt!
I found I needed a different pair of shoes for working out, and a second pair for daily use. Along with that change, I bought different shoe inserts for each new pair of shoes. I was already using shoes with inserts, one of my essentials for after knee surgery, but I found having two different pairs really made a difference! The shin splint problem went away after this. Thank goodness!
The 12 week Doctors Visit
Generally, at the 12-week mark, you’re cleared from the doctor to go about business as usual. For me, I’m a couple of weeks behind. I’ll see the doctor in two more weeks. Week 14, that is. Why you ask, well because of the couple of complications I had in prior recovery weeks. If you haven’t read about them yet, you can here ( first four weeks) and here (5-7). Okay, so on to what the doctor said at well, week 14 for me.
Every doctor visit always starts with an x-ray. The doctor has to make sure everything is still straight and in place. Mine looked great! I asked him if I had any limitations at all. He said I’m free to go back to everything I was doing before. Another great!
Next question, what about new things? He said this one is a bit more tricky, it’s different with every person and age is always a factor. He told me to take it slow, and if anything caused pain, STOP. Reminded me, my knee would feel more like my own in 6 months to a year, and that would be a better time to start new things, but he also knows how I am and just reminded me to be careful.
That’s the best doctor visit I ever had with that man outside of my first one with him telling me he could fix me! All the good news! I was so pumped up, leaving that appointment. Ready to face the world with my new knee. I was prepared to make significant changes to my health and routine and prepared to start right then. Why can’t every doctor’s visit be like that, right?
Weeks 8 through 12 of Knee Rehab
How did your last doctor’s checkup go? Have you ever left the office feeling like that? Leave your answer in the comments or contact me HERE. I would love to have a knee conversation with you!
Until next time, Take care! To continue reading the next part of this knee journey click HERE
To start this journey from the beginning, click HERE
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You talk about getting different shoes for your shin splints. I’m at that stage, so glad when I read you had them to, didn’t quite know why or what it was. Can you tell me more about the shoes you used. Thank you
Sorry to hear your having problems with shin splints! They really are painful! I would suggest finding shoes with great arch support and good padding for your heel. Everyone’s foot is so different but I had a lot of luck with walk/running shoes. Also I found that a really good show insert is key. Also, there are stretches and exercises I found online that helped prevent them as well. Hope this helps!