total knee replacement after 50

recently, there has been a slew of questions about my total knee replacement surgery last April. how was the surgery? what preparations were made? what was recovery like? what tips can i share? so i thought i would repost the original blog post from April 2020, where i spoke in-depth about total knee replacement surgery after 50.

some history

the story starts about eighteen months ago after opens in a new windowmr. style was diagnosed with liver cancer.  he had just finished two rounds of radiation to slow its progress. it was a challenging summer with lots of trips to Atlanta to see the specialists, have the treatments, recuperate, and give mr. style a bit of tlc. but above all, we tried to live our lives as normally as possible because we knew every day was precious. honestly, when you’re going through a trial, you’re just putting one foot in front of the other each day, so you don’t even realize the stress you’re going through.

but one very ordinary day after the radiation treatments were behind us, i stepped out of the shower and noticed my ankle was swollen. had i twisted it? banged it on a chair? it was definitely swollen like a balloon, but i couldn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary to injure it. odd and perplexing, to say the least.

a trip to the Orthopedist was soon schedule but turned up nothing. the x-rays from both knees and ankles came back perfectly normal. so the Dr. turned me over to a Rheumatologist for more tests. mr. style and i knew the Rheumatologist well as he had been treating mr. style for psoriatic arthritis since our arrival in Athens. needless to say, i was in good hands.

a battery of blood tests came back with negative results for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and a string of auto-immune diseases. are inconclusive tests good? bad? they’re somewhat frustrating. but one thing was clear. the tests showed my inflammation was off the charts. and though my swollen ankle finally subsided, the joint pain had just begun to creep into every bone of my body. there came a time when the pain was so severe i could barely get out of bed. all i could think about was that i needed to take care of mr. style, not the other way around. there had to be something i could do to help myself.

modern medicine intervened, along with a comprehensive medical plan from my Rheumatologist. soon i was taking daily doses of prednisone with a weekly dose of methotrexate. hallelujah! the pain slowly subsided, and i was able to resume normal activities again. but the doctor privately shared how worried he had been because my inflammation levels had been so very, very high.

so how and why was my body turning against itself? because that’s exactly what happens with inflammation. your body is getting mixed signals and begins to attack itself. i was already on my fitness journey in 2018 with opens in a new windowFaster Way to Fat Loss and had started to learn more and change my nutrition habits. i can’t emphasize enough how fitness begins with food. how food and nutrients keep our bodies strong. how it acts like medicine. how nutrients that come from spinach, broccoli, salmon, eggs feed our bodies and keep us healthy. and so on and so forth. i devoured books about inflammation and how your diet can impact it. i learned the importance of supplements that fill in the gaps that food alone can’t fill. but above all, i listened to my gut – the microbiome that keeps our body and mind humming in tip-top shape. it’s an entire community of immune system cells living in your gut that are the gatekeepers fighting off harmful bacterias and viruses from penetrating your gut wall.

when 2018 turned into 2019, i was ready. ready to slowly wean me from the medication prescribed by my Rheumatologist. the prednisone was first. followed by methotrexate several months later. but i still relied on tylenol or ibuprofen to ease the pain. my plan was working. nutrition was working and the supplements too. i had the energy and the resources to take care of mr. style, which had been my prayer all along. 

opens in a new windowjumpsuit | opens in a new windowsimilar jumpsuit | opens in a new windowtee | opens in a new windowsimilar sandals

total knee replacement after 50

so that’s a bit of backstory. but how and why did i need a total knee replacement? well, by mid-2019, my right knee began to deteriorate. i had trouble taking oscar for his daily walks, stairs became a challenge, and i couldn’t get up and down from a chair without the aid of my hands. very troubling for a woman who had been active and exercising her entire life. the symptoms crept in slowly then picked up speed. during this time, i suffered another trauma that put my health on the backburner. in July of 2019, mr. style lost his battle with liver cancer. now there were other priorities to take care of besides a deteriorating knee. my mental health and that of my children were of utmost importance. the knee could wait. and it did, although it continued to deteriorate.

fast forward to January 2, 2020, when i headed back to the Orthopedist for a check-up. guess what? the x-rays came back and revealed that my right knee that had been perfectly normal in August 2018, was now bone-on-bone. no wonder i couldn’t go up and down the stairs, had to forego Orange Theory workouts, and a Peloton ride consisted of rotating my legs, not working them to the max.

needless to say, my doctor encouraged me to consider a total knee replacement. i was definitely on the road of no return. once the damage has been done to a joint, the damage is done. after a few weeks of contemplation, i was on board. let’s schedule the surgery to coincide with my schedule. there were three conferences i would be attending in the next few months (all of which were canceled), so we finally coordinated a date to pencil in on my calendar.

icing your knee several times a day for the first two weeks is key to your recovery. along with the at-home exercises your physical therapist gives you. there are two things you have to remember after knee replacement surgery: straighten the knee and bend the knee. sounds simple right? oh, how i wish it were.

off to visit the physical therapist with my walker. don’t wean yourself off the walker too soon as it helps you keep an even gait. if you transition to a cane too early in the recovery process, it’s far too easy to develop a limp. rotating between the walker and cane should do the trick.

recovery after total knee replacement after 50

here i am post-surgery, sharing my tale with you that a health setback can be challenging, but there’s hope. it takes a lot of hard work, lots of research, listening to medical advice, but always knowing that you are your own best advocate in any scenario that you’re given in life. the good news is that i’m now on the road to recovery. and i’ll be sharing lots more of my meal plans, workouts, and health tips that i incorporate to live a healthy and vibrant life. and i want to encourage those who have had similar health setbacks that there’s hope. but it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. and i’m lucky that there was a solution to my dilemma thanks to advances in our healthcare.

three days after surgery. the first glimpse of my knee.

a few of the machines my physical therapist uses to torture rehabilitate me. 

so far, the bike has been my biggest challenge. that first full rotation is a mental and physical victory!

waiting at the Dr.’s office to get my staples out.

on the road to recovery. two weeks post-surgery, and the staples are gone for good.

 

what’s next after total knee replacement after 50

as i said, there’s work to be done from here on out to regain the vibrant life i once had. but i’m ready to hit my home gym, lift those weights, hop on the Peloton for a sweaty spin class, and top it all off with Pilates when they reopen. i’ll check in with you from time-to-time to share my progress, workouts, and a few healthy meals as i’m truly back on course for a healthy and happy life. let me know in the comments how you lead an active life. we can all learn from each other during the good times and the bad. right?! knowledge is power.

update one year later

i can remember my Orthopedist and physical therapist telling me that a full recovery from total knee replacement surgery takes a full year to eighteen months! but it’s true. while you will be feeling great six weeks out from surgery, there are still milestones to achieve. my first walk with oscar took place three months after surgery. and i wore a pair of heels about a month or so after that. now that i’m back in the gym full time, i can do lunges and squats again, but i still have a ways to go with my flexibility. after surgery, my gait was off due to compensating for my bad knee prior to surgery. now that i have two working knees, i have worked hard to regain my posture and gait with the help of Pilates and a Chiropractor session to realign my spine. now, i’m now exploring Rolfing, which reorganizes your fascia or connective tissue. it’s all about freeing the body from pain, stiffness, and restrictions by addressing long-term holding patterns and fundamental problems that you may not even be aware of, bringing balance and ease back to the body. it’s pretty a-ma-zing!

this is what my knee looks like March 2021. what a beautiful scar!

for those of you heading off to total knee replacement surgery after 50 this year, good luck! it will be the best thing you have done for yourself. your vibrant life will be waiting for you after surgery. mine was.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Glad you share your knee surgery with us!
    quite a journey.
    Love your hair

    Posted 3.15.21
    • it was definitely a journey!

      Posted 3.15.21
  2. Cornelia Thomson wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m 76 and scheduled for knee replacement on April 29. I’m probably more worried about Covid in the hospital than I am the actual replacement. I know it won’t be easy, but your encouragement helped. Now my other knee is causing problems as I await surgery. Guess it will be next.
    I do enjoy you blog and hope someday the pandemic will be over and we can get out in our lovely clothes.

    Posted 3.15.21
    • i think the end of Covid is very close. lots of encouraging news.

      Posted 3.15.21
  3. Anne Courcier wrote:

    Hi, I have a shredded Meniscus and now arthritis. I have also been very active and now can’t go for a 1/2 mile walk and stairs are also a challenge. I have done PT and it helps some but I cant do the things I love, like hiking for miles. I would love to know more about the inflammation and diet and books that you have read to start my journey back to my new normal

    Posted 3.15.21
  4. Joanie wrote:

    Hi Beth
    Great update! Thanks. I had rotator cuff surgery 4 years ago when I was 59. I, too, did not have a specific injury event. It was wear and tear after years of overuse. It took a full year to feel completely healed. The pain is gone and I feel vibrant again. I walk and bike daily. I am so glad I had the surgery. Living with daily pain is life draining. Recovery takes commitment to physical therapy and exercises, but it is so worth it. My quality of life is now very good. Your knee looks good, Beth. It healed very nicely, and you are active again.

    Posted 3.15.21
  5. Deborah wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your personal struggles, as well as your successful style posts. You have helped me gain courage to let my hair return to its natural snowy white and gray mix.
    I am 64, and am probably have a knee replacement in my future.

    Posted 3.15.21
  6. Mickey cook wrote:

    I had total knee replacement January 25. I have done exceptionally well and had no complications. I enjoyed you sharing your journey. I am 72 and will have my other knee done at the end of 2021 or early 2022. Because of COVID, I had surgery at 7am and was home by 1:30 the same day. I had wonderful home health therapy at home for 3 weeks and 3 weeks of out patient therapy !

    Posted 3.15.21
  7. Mel wrote:

    I’m having my second knee replacement in April. My first was July of 2019, and two months later I was able to fly to my son’s wedding and have that mother/son dance we’d been looking forward to.

    I need to poke around on your site for your meal planning, because I need to address the inflammation in my body too.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Posted 3.15.21
  8. Mary wrote:

    What a great update, Beth. You were so courageous and strong while caring for Mr. Style, and my heart still aches for that time in your journey. I had my knee replacement surgery exactly one year ago, and while my progress wasn’t as rapid as yours, I’m still so pleased with the results. My other knee (formerly known as my good knee) has been acting up lately, probably due to a change in my gait…because it looks good on X-rays. Anyway, I’m so happy about your excellent outcome!

    Posted 3.15.21
  9. Susan wrote:

    This is a very timely post as I am contemplating knee replacement (both knees). With 3 Siberian Huskies at home and all bedrms upstairs, the immediate recovery logistics are of interest to me. Did you have help after surgery? How long were you “bedridden”? How long before driving? I realize everyone’s different, but these practical matters are helpful to know…thanks!

    Posted 3.15.21
  10. Judy Burgess wrote:

    I had both knees replaced after 70. Not at the same time by the way. It has been totally successful surgery. My rehab was hands on by a wonderful therapist. Very painful at the time but worth it. She didn’t care how much I squealed. My issue was getting my knees straight. They are great now.

    Posted 3.15.21
  11. Joyce Reardon wrote:

    Beth,
    I had 2 knew replacements in 2018. Best thing I ever did for myself! Yes it takes hard work, but so worth it.

    Posted 3.15.21
  12. Cindy wrote:

    Beth, was your original knee damage caused by arthritis? Should we all be seeing a Rheumatologist? Moat knee surgeries I hear about are the result of an injury. Wow! You are a very brave women that has been through a lot the last few years. Be well. Thank you for this post.

    Posted 3.15.21
  13. Christi wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your surgery and update. Our knees are so important. Everything in life that is important takes work and it is so worth it!

    Posted 3.15.21
  14. Carolyn wrote:

    Thank you for reminding me about your surgery. It’s very timely. I am facing this surgery in my need future. Not bone on bone so I keep putting it off. I’ve been falling recently, so time for another orthopedic visit.

    Posted 3.15.21
  15. Francesca B. wrote:

    Hi Beth, thank you for your wonderful open account, I so appreciate your generosity and kindness in sharing. I have had the life trials of breast cancer and chemotherapy treatment and last year a hip replacement because I was “bone on bone” too. And now I am doing really well and doing FWTWL and loving it! So very very grateful. Really appreciate your blog; take care and enjoy that lovely yard and the gorgeous Oscar!

    Posted 3.15.21
  16. Debra Erdley Adams wrote:

    I’m 65 and four weeks post partial knee replacement. Glad to hear you’ve made such a great recovery. I’m able to do an awful lot, including walking the ornery 90 golden retriver. Just anxious for the day when I* can get back to my yog class and spring. Thanks for sharing you story.

    Posted 3.15.21
  17. Annie Jacobi wrote:

    Love your story and think it will help many others facing the same issue.
    My total knee replacement was on St.Patrick’s Day (March 16) of 2020 and we all know what happened then.
    Turns out I was the very last patient leaving the hospital the day after my surgery. Walking down the hall was a “Twilight Zone” moment. No one else was in any room we passed.
    But, 1 year later (tomorrow) I am back playing competitive pickleball on a regular basis and taking all the long walks I love. Things weren’t a completely easy road though – I had to have a manipulation 2 months later and a couple of days after that, my pain ball disengaged and had to be reinserted after being put under anesthesia for a 3rd time within 60 days! And, this was my first medical surgery experience ever!
    A challenge, an experience, a time in my life to reset things and I am getting better each day.
    It’s doable, friends and is something I have not regretted.
    Take care of yourselves and thank you Beth for putting your experience out there to encourage folks who need to hear this.

    Posted 3.15.21
  18. Andrea wrote:

    You are an amazing woman, Beth. Your upbeat determination has served you well during your loss and then your knee. Baby steps and following instructions really does the job.

    As for the scar, it will disappear. It is coming up 3 years since I broke the two metatarsals in my right foot – one on both sides. I still have a bolt in one which is permanent. The surgeon asked me if I would let a med student do one of the sides – that suture was a little scary looking, but hey, it’s a foot. Well, neither scar (3” each) nor the bolt, are visible. Patience and in your case, sunscreen on the suture line and by next year – voila. In the mean time – don’t look down 😉 🌷

    Posted 3.15.21
  19. Patty Bramwell wrote:

    My best friend just had total knee replacement so sent her your blog. Been following you for about 2 years now. Love your style.
    My friend is 80 this year – Im 74 but we still want to be stylish x x

    Posted 3.16.21
  20. Carol McKay wrote:

    your scare looks good. did you massage it? Interested in your alternative therapies. Fascia is so fascinating.

    Posted 3.17.21
    • i used vitamin e to massage the scar.

      Posted 3.17.21
  21. Celia Nogueira wrote:

    Beautiful and courageous Beth!
    I am a fan from Brasil!

    Posted 3.17.21
  22. Anne wrote:

    Hi Beth ,I love your clothes that you wear they are fabulous ..l really hope you don’t mind me saying ..I don’t mean to upset you ,the beige boiler suit it not for you . It just doesn’t do anything at all . I really love your hairstyle that you have .
    Kind regards
    Anne

    Posted 3.17.21

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