Starting My Journey Towards A Knee Replacement

After having my knee replacement operation, I met many people who had this operation or were expecting to have the operation in the future.

I was asked many questions. So I decided to put pen to paper and tell the story of my journey towards my knee replacement. In this article I shall document the phases I went through to arrive at the operation. As well, I shall detail the symptoms that occurred and culminated to make the knee replacement necessary.

It all began in 1999 when I suffered soreness in my right knee after running. I sought advice from my GP. He advised an x-ray which found some damage to my knee joints. At this point the damage was minor but I was advised to give up running to slow down the rate of deterioration of the knee. This I did. I replaced the running with walking to help maintain my fitness now I was in my late fifties.

My next indication of an increasing problem with my knee came in July 2007. Mild pain and soreness occurred on the inside of my right knee. An x-ray found that the deterioration had increased particularly on the inside front section of my knee near my knee cap. My GP. advised me to go to my physiotherapist to get exercises to strengthen the knee. The physiotherapist gave me a series of exercises to strengthen the muscles on the inside of the knee to protect the damaged part of my knee. These exercises were to be done on both knees.

The problem with my knee ‘came to a head’ in September 2012. I had significant swelling of the knee and upper calf. A new x-ray was ordered. It showed significant deterioration to the knee that indicated I should see a specialist and return to my physiotherapist for exercises to strengthen my knee still further.

I saw the specialist who, on seeing the x-ray, said a knee replacement would be necessary soon. He asked me two questions. The first was the knee keeping me awake at night. The answer was “no”. The second question was how far could I walk? I told him I had walked through eighteen holes of golf the previous day. He indicated to me that the knee replacement could be put ‘on hold’.

The physiotherapist gave me a series of exercises to strengthen the knee muscles further and advised that I should ride a bike 20 to 30 minutes a day on an easy course as this would increase the strength of the muscles around my knees rapidly causing little or no further damage to my knee. I saw him again a week later. He noticed quite a significant improvement in my muscle strength around my knee in just that week.

Then in late January, 2013, after playing golf the knee and calf became swollen and began to ache mildly. The swelling did not go down. So, in mid-February with the swelling still there and pain and discomfort running down my leg, it was time to return to the knee specialist to put in train plans for my knee replacement.

In conclusion, I should point out the various symptoms I had over the years.

Initially, apart from the soreness around the knee, they were:

. I was bandy because I was unable to extend my right knee/leg fully.

. The sciatic nerve going down my right leg would ache right down to my big toe.

. At night, at about 8.30 pm., I would suffer restless legs for at least 30 minutes.

. Often my feet seemed to be hot.

. My feet would feel uncomfortable in bed and keep me awake. So, to sleep at night, I would need to wear socks even in the summer.

. Sometimes, I could only sleep on those nights if I sat in a reclining lounge chair.

In the final phase, more and more symptoms were present as time went on. By late January 2013, the following were occurring:

. a pain or ache around my knee was always present;

. the knee calf and ankle remained swollen;

. the sciatic nerve was uncomfortable;

. getting in and out of the car was difficult;

. walking up and down stairs was becoming difficult and lastly,

. a localised pain developed in the front inside of the knee around the kneecap area.