Cycling and Total Knee Replacement

Thinking of getting a total knee replacement?  Here are some words of encouragement.

I spent my twenties running like a maniac, getting injured, not resting, and blowing apart the cartilage in my knees. By the time I was, uh, older than thirty, I had stopped running and switched over to cycling. It was a great alternative to running and I got another twenty years out of my beaten up knees.

But by 2009, the arthritis in my knees had reached a point of constant pain and the lack of cartilage in my left knee was sending sharp stabbing pains with every ride. Time to do something about it.

I assumed with all of my knee surgery experience that I had a good idea what I was in for with a total knee replacement. Nope. I had no clue.

Incredible Pain

The first 24 hours post-surgery were a piece of cake. The wonderful femoral block worked its magic and I was feeling absolutely no pain. So sweet. Then it wore off. Bummer. I dreaded the site of the physical therapist…hated her, actually.

Looking back, I made the mistake of comparing my total knee replacement recovery to others and it simply didn’t match up. Even though I was fairly young, super fit, and healthy, I was far below average. Who knows why it happened like that. My surgeon said he never would have predicted it.

Back in the Saddle

The good news is exactly a year after my TKR surgery, I was cycling up to the summit of Mt. Ventoux in France. I spent three heavenly weeks pedaling my bike in the Maritime Alps and thanking my lucky stars that I’ve got a shiny new knee that allows me to ride.

Here are a few things I found helpful

  • Take someone with you to your doctor appointments — especially important post-surgery when you’re taking pain meds, in fear, and NOT thinking clearly.
  • Keep a log of pain meds and be an open book with someone you trust on how much you are taking.
  • Keep a log of your physical therapy and don’t beat yourself up. You’ll recover on your own timeline.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone recovers at a different rate.
  • Have faith and don’t panic.