Knee Replacement - Anyone had it? (Read 78 times)




    I'm wondering what people's experience with knee replacement is, and whether any of you have had success in running (not necessarily competitively) but at least recreationally, on a knee replacement. My research shows that the downside to it is that the longevity of the replacement may diminished (by an unspecified amount of time).


    I'm 56 and having been running pretty seriously since my late 30s. In that time I've had 3 meniscus repairs (one of them both lateral and medial). My knee woes began at 16 with an ACL tear at a time when instead of operating (there were no MRIs then), they simply casted it until it self-repaired. Which it did in a gnarly, unstable way. (I never knew that until my first meniscus scope in my 40s).


    Anyhow, it turned out I'd been running for a decade on an unstable knee and it just got worse.  The result, at this point is chronic bone edema, baker's cyst, partially torn ACL, Complex tearing of in lateral and medial meniscus, full cartilage thickness loss in medial side of knee and partial in lateral side, swelling at the base of the ilotibial band, subluxation of the tibia with respect to femur, and a few other things.


    At this point I'm able to do elliptical for hours (that's my long run these days) and very short slow (10 min mile) jogs for half an hour or so.


    I've been avoiding knee replacement because despite the insane amount of damage in my knee, my pain is not debilitating. And because .. well...who wants major surgery? But now I'm about to take the plunge.


    So I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with knee replacement, recovery and return to some form of running.


    Thanks for any insights.




      Hi. I am running with TKR.  I also had two prior surgeries for the same meniscus repair. The second because as an MRI showed, the first surgeon failed to repair the test. I am now 61 and was 58 at the time of the TKR. From the first time I discussed TKR I

      with my doctor, I was clear that I wanted to run post surgery.  My issue was arthritis and complete loss of cartilage in the knee.  Interestingly, both knees had pretty bad arthritis, but only the right was painful.   I was hot flushes on the right knee. So with a driven field hockey ball when I was 17, Think rock if you aren’t familiar with field hockey.  I had been running since I was 12 and inspired by Frank Shorter”s Marathon Olympic gold. First it was primarily to stay in shape for other sports, but I kept at it year round.  I didn’t race much until I was in my 40s. There weren’t many races back then for recreational runners.  I did Ok and got an AG award now and then in local 5 and 10Ks.  Then I decided to run my first  half marathon and a year later my first marathon. I ran with various knee braces and got used to the discomfort. Lots of ice. Docutd me a TKR was in my future but wanted to wait until I was older. They said I’d know when the time came. I had my surgery on May 1-, 2018.  I did all the PT and recovered well except that I never to this day regained full range of motion.  I had nothing approaching full ROM prior to surgery, and that is a major factor in how much is achieved post surgery. I also an unlucky to have the sticky type of scar tissue that complicates and limits recovery of ROM. I even underwent manipulation under anesthesia but it didn’t help much. However, the pain was gone and I had entrance to run. I was told I could attempt running at 4 months post surgery. My goal was to run the 5K that is part of race week for my favorite half marathon, the first that I ever ran and one that is special to me for many other reasons. Training went so well that I decided I could run/ walk the half. I generally run a HM in about 2:15 to 2:20. PR is 2:08 a year before the surgery. I set a goal of 3 hours. Actually ran it in 2:39.  I run 3 days per week. About 6-8 miles on my two week day runs and a long run on Saturday. Before Covid I did pool running at the YMCA three times a week. Now I do elliptical at home in place of that.  I did run a marathon last year but I think I will stick to shorter races.  I am at HM fitness without too much of an issue. My long runs are generally 10-12 mikes with an occasional longer one. I do wear a knee sleepy on the TKR knee. It provides support and maybe do

      e placebo effect.  I feel it is a small price to pay to be able to run. 

      As far as the artificial knee wearing out, most of those studies have been done on 69-70 year old people who are largely sedentary and overweight.  Only now are studies being done on younger people who were active and want to continue to be active post surgery. Recent studies have shown that in fact the replacements in people who do run are not worn down as expected and are in fact more stable at 10-15 years. More studies needed for longer term. It makes sense to me that having strong legs from running would help stabilize the joint. Running also keeps my weight in check and helps me avoid other health problems common as people age  My thought is that even if my TKR lasts fewer years, the benefits to running are worth it and should I live long enough to need a new knee again, then I’ll do so.  By the the technology should be even better.


      Before my surgery I was encouraged by talking to a waitres whose mom ran post TKR. It is possible.  I should note that I do make sure to stay at a healthy weight, I wear well cushioned shoes, run on the beach several times a month, and use Chi Running technique as I did prior to surgery to limit impact forces as much as I can. My biggest fear is catching the knee as with limited ROM that hurts in practice it happens more when walking than running. And finally, I even run with my hog, a shepherd lab mix. I have fallen several times:  squirrels, cats, rabbits, raccoons are so exciting, but have not injured either knee other than a few scrapes and bruises. And my left knee has also improved as it is no longer doing extra work


      Everone will have a unique experience post TKR, but it is possible to run after surgery.  I hope this helps you with your decision and good luck to you.


        I would try the knee gels (euflexxa or something equivalent) before getting KR. The usual course is to get 2 injections per year six months apart. You get 3 to 5 shots over 3 to 5 weeks, depending on the type of gel your doctor recommends. My doctor says it's always best to keep your original knee as long as possible. I've had to decrease my running because of the arthritic knees that first developed when I was 63. I'm now 67 going on 68, and the gel has really helped run pain-free, but again, circumscribes mileage. That could be the case as well with a KR, I'm guessing. I used to run 25 to 50 miles depending on goals, such as running a marathon or half-marathon. Now I'm able to run 20-25 miles per week with little problem. So at least from the health/weight perspective, it's been a good choice. Don't get me wrong. I could race, but am happy with just being able to do regular runs (5 miles per session, 4 days a week, up to 5 days a week) for self-maintenance purposes.


        Of course there are people that have tried the knee gels and they don't work because of the severity of the arthritis, but it's something you have to test on yourself. I'd give them a chance. I'd avoid steroids at all costs because they can contribute to deterioration of cartilage.


          I also had multiple rounds of the Synvisc and Euflexxa.  I also did my own blood plasma injections.  Bought me around 7 years.  Besides the pain threshold, what pushed me to have the TKR was that I finally had health insurance, a job where I could work from home for a few weeks and available Uber to take me places until I could drive.    More than the pain while running was that I was increasingly bothered  by my inability to walk upon getting up from a chair.  That was actually better immediately after the surgery, even before recovery was completed.


          I am not suggesting OP should have the TKR now or ever, just responding to request for info about running afterward.


            Thanks for the thoughtful responses. Super helpful. FYI, I have has synvisc -- it didn't help. My problem is the chronic tearing as well as the cartilage loss (which is full in some areas but only partial in others. There is such a constellation of issues that there are no good options left (though I'm only 56). Still in the decision-making process, though I do have a surgery date on the calendar in case I go that route.


              Yes for sure1 Get good nutrition and stay healthier


                FWIW - When I was 45 I was diagnosed with major cartilage loss on the top surface of the femur. The orthopedist I was seeing at the time said I was "too young" for a knee replacement, and his medical advice was to "suck it up for a few years." Needless to say, this did not sit well with me, so I sought out a second opinion. The second opinion pointed me in the direction of a cartilage regeneration specialist. There are several biological options to investigate before a knee replacement. I'm on year 4 after having an osteochondral allograft - that is a fancy way of saying that I got a piece of cartilage and bone from a donor to replace the damaged area of the femur. I have had to back off my training and incorporate more biking and lower impact exercise and miles are down - but there is no plastic to wear out and no surgeries on the horizon. Biological solutions don't fit every situation - age, weight, BMI, athletic lifestyle, and desired outcome all affect whether this is viable solution other than a knee replacement, but you can certainly investigate with your doctors.


                  I have some problems with my knees. I have had several surgeries on then but I can still run. I do have some problems walking and I find it almost impossible for me to run down hill. Actually I can run uphill or flat with almost no pain in my knees.


                  I had several doctors checking my knees and almost all of them said that I had to replacement my knees. One of the most famous of the knee replacement doctor, Dr Eric Green, is in my area and I saw him and I was getting his opinion on my knee. He didn't think my knee was needed to replacement right now.  He also told me that I should not run again if I had a knee replacement. You should talk to your doctor before the replacement to check if your doctor and check if you can run again after the replacement.  This is something that is very important, we can have a bad knee and we could replacement but that may cut down a lot you may be left with.


                  This is my concern and i had pretty much decide I wasn't going to get it replacement because i wouldn't run after wards.  My guess is that i will get to some bad conditions in the future and i won't run again and i will probably will need to get a replacement but I am trying as long as possible before I get the replacement. I hope you are okay and I am sending my good thoughts to you and I hope you will be able to improve your  knees.


                    Most doctors will tell you that you shouldn’t run after TKR.  It does not mean that you can’t.  While everyone is an individual, recent studies are showing that many people can and do run after TKR and the scary things that the doctors told them would happen are not happening.  Yes, some might have to cut mileage or maybe not run every day. Common sense says reduce impact forever any way you can: shoe choice, surface choice, running form. Also consider weight.  If I were to stop running I would likely gain weight. Other exercises don’t work as well for n my r, and access to equipment can be an issue especially in a pandemic. I used to pool run 3x a week.  Have not been to the pool since March. Now I use my elliptical those days. If I gain weight my risk for all other aging health conditions increases.   For me, running after my TKR makes sense for me from both a physical and mental health perspective.