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Knee Replacements - single or double?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by highrisegiraffe, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. highrisegiraffe

    highrisegiraffe Member

    I've been told that I need both my knees replaced due to severe :confused:arthritis and he is suggesting that I have both done at the same time, instead of one at a time. This makes me very nervous and concerned about recovery from the surgery.

    Does anyone have experience of having both knees replaced at the same time?
  2. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Well-Known Member

    It would depend on your insurance beni's. If you had 30 days in a recovery place, I would do it with no hesitation. You get all the pain over with at once. You get the pt right there. If you live alone and are sent home in 6 days I might have a harder time with getting both at the same time. If you have someone at home who can help and drive and encourage you to work through the pain with rom exercises that would sway me to both at the same time as well. Sometimes it's medically necessary - if your bad knee and replacement position your body differently, it could aggravate the recovery process. I would see if your doc would elaborate as to why both should be done at the same time.
  3. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I have always heard you should do both. Recovery time will not be much longer but if you do one at a time you are doubling the recovery time over the long haul. It is also going to be painful so I would rather get through it all at once and be over it, I would be afraid that I would not want to go back in for the 2nd surgery. Also, it is always a risk to go under anesthesia so why put your self at risk two times when you could be under just once?
  4. highrisegiraffe

    highrisegiraffe Member

    Thanks TheGirlCanSkate and BigB08822 for your comments (which reflect my concerns for both options). I know the recovery period and pain will be difficult to cope with either way, and I too feel that if I have only one done I might not go back for the 2nd one. So I think I am favouring the double route at the moment.

    I would love to hear from anyone who has actually had the surgery.
  5. skatefan

    skatefan home in England

    A friend's husband had both knees replaced at the same time a few years back and he coped really well.
  6. highrisegiraffe

    highrisegiraffe Member

    That's good to hear.
  7. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    My husband had both knees replaced last November at the same time. The recovery was difficult, especially since he had no good leg to stand on, but we managed. I was his full time caregiver for two months. He was in CPM machines and cryocuffs for 3 weeks as well as anti-embolism stockings and taking Coumadin. He got rid of his walker at about 4 weeks post surgery. The doctor recommended that he do both knees at once because he "had the worst case of osteoarthritis he's ever seen" and had no good knee. Personally I think it was a good idea to only go through the pain and long recovery once. I can't imagine looking forward to a second surgery right after doing the first one - that would stink! Since we are both retired, the long recovery and constant caregiving requirement worked for us. However, for someone who has to go back to work, you would need to take about 2 months off. My neighbors have done single knee replacements and had shorter recoveries that allowed them to go back to work after 3-4 weeks (they have desk jobs). You need to be realistic that it can take a year to regain full mobility and to have no/minimal aching. The good thing now is that my husband is able to fly on planes alone and go on outdoor adventures (e.g. fishing, hunting) again. But he needs to use a walking stick for stability and he cannot do any lateral movements. His knees still look swollen and he says they feel like someone cinched a rubber band tight across them. Over time the muscles should loosen up. If you do both knee surgeries at once, you will need someone as caregiver 24/7 for a long time to help with potty trips, pill deliveries and keeping track of meds, food prep, getting in/out of bed and the CPM/cryocuff machines, changing ice frequently, etc. You will not be able to drive for 6-8 weeks and will need your caregiver to take you to physical therapy appts. 3 times/week and doctor appts. a couple of times post surgery. Also, I had to rig up a taller bed arrangement after he got home as he could not squat to get into a regular bed - I added an extra mattress on top of a standard mattress and box springs and that worked well. Good luck with your decision! It is not common to do two knees at once, but it is done occasionally. Make sure you have a surgeon who specializes in knees only if possible. Ours has done thousands of these surgeries during his 30+ year practice.
  8. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    To add to madm's comments, general fitness levels should factor in as well. If someone has decent core and arm strength, doing both at the same time may be the best option. For folks who cannot use their core and arms well, one at a time may be better.

    Your doctor probably wouldn't suggest doing both unless he thought you were fit enough. If you decide on both and are able to do so, you might want to do weights and core exercises before the surgery to make sure you are as strong as you can be.
  9. highrisegiraffe

    highrisegiraffe Member

    Thanks madm and Aceon6 for your valuable comments. I don't think I am particularly fit, especially as I have difficulty doing much walking. Also I need to lose weight before the surgery, which I'm working on (have lost 20 lbs. so far). I'm going to be working with a personal trainer over the summer and she will will be good to get me in shape for the surgery.

    I do live alone so assume I will be in a rehab hospital for a while after the surgery, and I have a friend who can be a caregiver for part of the time. I too am retired so don't need to worry about rushing back to work. I realize recovery will be a long process.

    The surgery will probably be early next year - I have to work it around trips I have planned for figure skating events you know! I'm booked to attend Skate America, Skate Canada, Canadian Nationals and then watching Olympics on TV - before surgery. then hopefully I'll be recovered enough for the next skating season!