Links to More Information
Visit the Message Board
Pictures and Notes from My First TKR
My Second TKR
My Total Hip Replacement
Updates on My Progress
Information on Rheumatoid Arthritis
Whether you have had a knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty and abbreviated TKR or TKA, or you've been told you might need one, you've come to the right place. I have had both knees replaced: the right one in June 1998 and the left one in March 1999. The good news for visitors like you is that both knees are still going strong after more than 16 years!
I have also had both of my hips replaced as well — the left on Dec. 28, 2004, and the right on April 15, 2005. The left was then revised in 2009 after an infection, but I’ve done well since then. If you are interested in total hip arthroplasty, check out my story in a separate section of this website.
More than 15 Years of Fellowship and Support
This year Robin's Total Knee Replacement celebrates 17 great years. On June 10, 1998, I had my first (right) total knee replacement -- followed in March 1999 by a left TKR. The great news that both knees are still going strong with no problems at all. Here's where you can read the latest update on how I'm doing—but note that I don’t update this too often anymore, because there’s nothing to say! (And that’s a good thing!)
One relatively new item I have on this site is the "Knee Tips" document compiled from tips, hints and commentary provided by members of the On Our Feet Joint Replacement Forum on Delphi. This document is available in Microsoft Word, and it represents personal experiences and tips from fellow patients ... not medical advice. I don't know how much more strongly I can stress that ... because each person's experience is different and unique. Always ask your doctor before doing an exercise or taking a medicine that you've read about or heard about from another patient.
To read about how my hips are doing, check out Robin's Total Hip Replacement.
On these pages, you can read my personal story and check out various links where you can find more information and places to share your experiences with others.
It is very important to remember that this story represents my personal experience. Each patient is different, and not everyone will recover at the same rate. Please read a variety of stories and do plenty of research before deciding to have a TKR. Consider talking to more than one surgeon, and even to nurses and physical therapists who have experience with joint replacement. No one can guarantee you will have results as good as mine have been — although I believe with lots of research and care, everyone has a great chance at a great result. I just don’t want anyone to feel discouraged if you heal at a slightly slower pace than I did.
Please remember that none of the information on any of these pages is intended to serve as medical advice. I am not a medical professional and am only sharing my own personal account. Please consult your doctor before trying any treatment for your knee condition!
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Visit the "On Our Feet" Joint Replacement Message Board!
I've set up a message board on the online service Delphi where you can ask questions of others who have had TKRs and/or share your story with others. Click here to visit! You do have to register the first time you visit, but registration is easy and free to the user. This message board has become an amazing community of supportive and informative folks! You can also find some information on hip and shoulder replacement, ankle replacement and even elbow replacement!
Some recent topics of discussion:
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Where Are the Knee Tips?
This MS Word document, updated 3/20/07, is compiled from tips, hints and commentary provided by members of the On Our Feet Joint Replacement Forum on Delphi. Please always remember that it represents personal experiences and tips from fellow patients ... not medical advice.
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A lot of people have emailed me with questions about my knee surgery. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
Who performed the surgery for you?
Dr. Rick Schram of Southwest Orthopaedic Group in Austin, Texas, with assistance from Dr. Nick Tsourmas. Unfortunately Dr. Schram is no longer in practice; he switched professions, going back to school to study law.
How old are you? Did your surgeon try to make you wait before having your surgery? Why did you decide to have it now?
I was 28 years old when I had my first TKR (born in 1969), and my knees were in such bad shape that there was really no question of waiting. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and there was no cartilage left in either knee. Basically there was nothing to be done for them except total knee replacement. My surgeon insisted on doing one knee at a time although I would like to have done both at once. I did the right one first and had the left one done about nine months later. (Note: I have heard from several people since I wrote this, including a doctor, that having both knees done at once is exceptionally difficult. This seems to be a point of contention. If you visit the Delphi message board, you will find a lot of discussions on whether to do one knee at a time or both; it all seems to depend upon your doctor's preference and your own state of overall health.)
I decided to go ahead and have the surgery because I was convinced it would relieve my pain. I was having such severe pain in both knees, especially the right one, that I was having to take strong painkillers regularly to get through my days. Also, my right leg was "bowed" outward to the point of being nearly deformed. I had a severe limp and was using a cane. Basically, there was nothing for me to lose!
Did your doctor tell you how long the new knee would last? Did he tell you you would have to have a second surgery and maybe even a third?
I have been given different estimates of how long my knee will last, ranging from a low of eight years to a high of 25 years. I'm hoping for the best! My regular doctor feels like I'm pretty active and will wear it out faster than an elderly or more sedentary person might. However, it's my understanding that the second and subsequent surgeries are not as difficult as the first. (Note: This is just what my own doctor has told me, and it's a matter of opinion. Other medical professionals have actually told me the revisions are harder.) My philosophy is that I could be hit by a truck tomorrow, and I should make the best of each day, which means being as pain-free as possible. My surgery has vastly improved my quality of life, and I can't say enough positive things about it.
Did you try Synvisc or Hyalgan?
These two drugs are billed as being sort of like "motor oil" or lubricant for injured knees. Genzyme Biosurgery, the maker of Synvisc and a generally cool company in my opinion, has a good informational site about Synvisc. These medications, which are injected directly into the joints, seem to work really well, and have helped some people avoid knee surgery for six months or even a year or more. Unfortunately for me, they are apparently only helpful for people with osteoarthritis (not rheumatoid). If that is your condition, definitely ask your doctor about them!
Have you heard of Celebrex/Vioxx/Mobic? Can that help me?
These are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that were developed in the late 1990s and were supposed to be gentler on the stomach than most of those already on the market (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, daypro, etc.). Celebrex, Vioxx, and Mobic are all part of a class of drugs called COX-2 Inhibitors that were formulated to avoid some of the stomach problems other NSAIDs can cause. Please note, though, that in late 2001/early 2002, several studies began pointing to disturbing, though rare, side effects of COX-2 inhibitors. In 2005, Vioxx was taken off the market. If you take an NSAID for your condition and have stomach problems, you might ask your doctor whether a COX-2 inhibitor would be a better drug for you than whatever you are on. However, none of this has much bearing on whether to have a TKR. If Celebrex helps your pain, that is great; it won't fix a knee that has no cartilage left.
Do you think I (or my friend or relative) should have a total knee replacement?
I can't possibly recommend the best course of action for any other person. I have no medical training at all — I'm just a fellow patient who has been through the experience. I do have some words of advice, however. Pick a doctor that you trust and then follow his or her recommendation. After all, if you don't trust your doctor explicitly, why would you let him cut you open? Secondly, do your homework. You cannot do too much research on this decision! Surf the web, talk to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, people who have had the surgery, and read all you can before going through with it. Knowledge really is power in this case.
How long was it before you could a) walk without pain or b) go back to work?
After my first surgery I was off all pain medication after two days except for my regular arthritis medications. I was walking without much difficulty (except for a little stiffness) after four days. At that point I wasn't using a cane or walker, either. I went back to work part-time after three weeks and worked my way up to full-time over the course of about a week. Note that I mostly worked at a computer and didn't have to do a lot of physical work or walking.
Can you kneel on your artificial knee?
Yes. My doctor did not give me many restrictions. He basically told me just to be careful, use common sense, don't do anything that hurts, and not to run. I obviously am careful with my knees, and I tend to walk with great care because I'm a little afraid of what might happen if I fell. However, I can definitely kneel if needed, and until I broke my femur in an unrelated incident, I could go up and downstairs with ease. I have some trouble with stairs right now because of my femur problems.
Your recovery went so smoothly. What is the key to your success?
KNOWLEDGE and ATTITUDE. As I said above, the best thing you can do for yourself prior to surgery is become well informed. It's totally okay to be afraid, because you're going through major surgery. But do try to go into it with the attitude that you're taking a positive step. The minute you come out of surgery, focus your positive energy on that knee. Really try to do everything your healthcare professionals ask you to do, even if it's hard. Do your exercises religiously and work that knee as much as you can, even when it's tired. I can't guarantee you as great results as I had, but I can tell you these are the steps I took and this is the attitude I brought to the process.
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If you'd like to contact me, or get support from some of the many other people who have undergone this surgery, please
visit the On Our Feet Joint Replacement Forum