My wife just had knee replacement surgery, 2 weeks ago. That’s her knee in the featured photo. She was able to walk slowly with a walker the same day. The physical therapy people were surprised at how quickly she’s recovering. Two weeks later she’s able to walk with a cane and goes short distances with no support at all. (Still uses the walker for longer distances.) They said it was because of all the bicycling she did for a couple of years before the surgery.

What influenced her to get the surgery was that it became too painful to ride the bike. (It had become too painful to walk very far and that was why she started riding the bike instead of walking for exercise.)

I’ve been taking care of her, easy since I’ve retired myself.

This is the least gruesome knee replacement video I could find. The actual surgery is grisly and stomach-turning, involving hammering and sawing, and drilling on the exposed bone ends. Blood supply was completely cut off with a tourniquet on the upper thigh and that left some serious bruising but surprisingly there was little bruising on the knee itself.

I am amazed that a human can walk again in less than a month, let alone the same day. There are 650 thousand procedures every year so they have it down to a fine art. 85% of knee replacements are still good after 25 years. That’s a big improvement. Doctors used to refuse to replace them for people in their 60s because the life cycles of earlier knee replacements were only about 15 years and they didn’t fancy having to replace them a second time when a person was in their 80s.

In another 2 weeks, she’ll be on a stationary bike with low resistance. By that time we’ll be able to travel as long as I drive. It will be a couple of months more before she’s really healed. Then we do the other knee, maybe in October. I’m really looking forward to being able to do walks with her again. People have completed the Appalachian Trail with artificial knees. (Not her, though.)

If I were to recommend exercises to prepare one for knee surgery, I would definitely go with cycling. It is much easier on a bum knee than walking. And forget about running, your knee will not handle the impact. Another exercise would be to practice lifting oneself up out of a chair using the arms of the chair and minimal leg effort.

She had a waterproof bandage over the incision for 10 days. During that time she could take a shower as long as she kept water off the area. Now it has been replaced with a breathable bandage. No more showers until she gets the staples removed. Water could leak into the incision and a bone infection is about the most difficult infection to treat, often taking months.

While she is recovering from knee surgery – they give 2-3 months – she will be on disability. A couple of months back at work and then put in for retirement. Then the other knee next year and possibly more disability. So it looks like she is approaching the end of her working career. She won’t mind.

For me, I’ll make do with biennial cortisone injections as long as I can still hike. The one thing you can’t afford to do if you have arthritis is to stop using the joint. It will lose range of motion and physical strength and you’ll lose the use of it completely.

Here’s what the incision looks like, not my wife’s knee but almost exactly the same.