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Wondering how you’ll be feeling 5 months after knee replacement surgery? I’ll bring you up to date on my TKR recovery and share the good and bad regarding how my knee feels.
Once again, I’m surprised with the time that’s passed and my rate of recovery. If you work hard at your physical therapy and continue to follow through with regular exercise and knee strengthening, I bet you’ll see a remarkable difference just as I have.
I’ve resumed my old activities with no pain (although I’m not running). At this point, it would be easy to stop exercising and be content with my progress.
However, each month I feel stronger and my knee feels more stable.
I continue to notice the muscles around my knee increasing in size and strength.
As I share my progress I hope it will encourage you to exercise regularly with an emphasis on your knee long after your physical therapy ends.
Pain Level 5 Months After Knee Replacement
Five months after TKR and I’m able to do every activity I did before my surgery without the bone-on-bone pain I experienced for so long. I still have some soreness and swelling at times after activity.
I continue to elevate and ice my knee often after activity (check out the ice packs I used for TKR).
I’m playing pickleball 3 times a week on a hard surface (tennis courts). When I play, I reach and squat to hit and pick up balls frequently.
I don’t feel like I am any quicker with my movements front to back and side to side, but my knee feels much more stable.
I feel the leg press and squat exercises have helped me gain muscle in my legs and they’ve taken some pressure off my joints.
However, I don’t feel I’ve reached my peak in recovery. My doctor advised me that the knee would remain swollen during the first 6-12 months.
I was also told the knee would feel 5 degrees warmer, which it does, and I may hear and feel clicking when going up and downstairs.
Range Of Motion 5 Months After TKR
You can expect rapid growth in your range of motion after TKR surgery during the first 6 weeks.
After therapy, even with regular exercise, the range of motion only increases slightly by a degree or so over time (my physical therapy workout after surgery).
If you did not have much range of motion before TKR, work towards getting back to your previous range of motion and be happy with every degree you increase past that mark.
I believe that slacking off during the first few weeks after surgery will result in having a reduction in your range of motion. Work through the pain if you can tolerate it and listen to the recommendations of your doctor and physical therapist.
The Muscle Mass Around My Knee
I walked on a bad knee for decades. My leg began to bow and my calf, quads and hamstring muscles showed significant signs of atrophy.
I hardly had a visible calf muscle at all.
After knee replacement surgery, my muscles atrophied even more but I was also pleasantly surprised to see how fast they began to build back up.
It takes consistent hard work in the fitness center to make progress and I now have a discernible calf muscle (how shoes have helped with my walking form).
My quadriceps and hamstring muscles continue to get bigger and stronger even though they are still not as large as my non-surgical leg. My long-term goal is to have matching legs and now that I’m utilizing them in a more balanced manner I think the muscles will become more symmetrical.
How Will The Knee Look After 5 Months
If you religiously apply an aloe-based lotion or a scar gel to your incision, you should observe a remarkable difference in the size and appearance of your scar.
I continue to keep applying lotion or gel to my scar 2 or 3 times daily and will continue for the first year.
My surgical knee is still larger than my non-surgical knee but the surgical knee is firmer, more stable and not as mushy (with fluid) as it was pre-TKR.
The bow in my leg is gone and I have two straight legs for the first time in many years.
A Few Tips For Others Who Are Experiencing Setbacks
With any surgery, you can expect to experience setbacks. I feel I’ve been fortunate . I have two friends that had TKR within a month of my surgery, and they are also doing very well. Another neighbor had to go back to the hospital after TKR and have her knee surgically manipulated under anesthesia.
If you’re having difficulty with your recovery you should consult with your doctor or resume therapy (causes of pain after TKR).
- You may have work or family obligations and so you’re not working as hard as you should in the fitness center.
- Maybe you’re battling with your weight and it’s putting too much pressure on the knee joint.
The flexion exercises you did during therapy are important to continue even though it’s been 5 months. Remember to work on strengthening your hips too as strong hips relieve pressure on your knees.
Check out my other article with my best TKR recovery tips.
Once your formal therapy ends, continue to work hard with your recovery. When you know your time is getting short with your physical therapist, have him or her help you set up a routine of exercises that you can do on your own.
Don’t relax and be content with 6 weeks of physical therapy. It’s harder to stay consistent with your exercise program when nobody is watching. Stick with It!
> Update article: 6 months after knee replacement
You need to be disciplined and continue to work hard alone on your recovery.
If you are having trouble working out alone, find a buddy to work out with. If you can afford to pay the expense of a personal trainer that will oversee your workouts, it definitely could be worth the expense.
Whether you’re working out 3 to 4 times a week or applying lotion and gel to the scar, it’s important to be consistent and keep a routine. Continue to ice and elevate your knee after activity and workouts.
The longer you stay with it, the stronger and more stable your knee will become.