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Author Topic: Denovo Knee Surgery Recovery- What I wish I knew  (Read 418 times)

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Offline KellyBrown22

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Denovo Knee Surgery Recovery- What I wish I knew
« on: May 12, 2019, 11:32:30 PM »

Almost four weeks ago I underwent knee surgery to repair torn cartilage in my knee. I had torn cartilage in two different places, with one tear about the size of a dime. I am an active 23 year old, so I decided to go with the DeNovo repair surgery. I realized that there are not very many recent DeNovo Diary entries on this forum, so I've decided to share my experience below.

Day 1-5

I was really nervous for my surgery because it would require a major lifestyle change. I'm 23 and live in FL without any family in the area. I knew my family would be able to stay here for the first 4 days post surgery, then I would be on my own taking care of myself.

The surgery took about 3 hours. My doctor said it went perfect. They gave me a nerve block, which made me have no pain what so ever for the first 36 hours. I couldn't fire my quads or move my ankle, which was almost a scary feeling. However, I was really thankful for it, because I didn't start to get really uncomfortable until the second night (36 hours after surgery). Getting used to the pain was the hardest part. I was taking pain meds every four hours and I had to also take ibuprofen to allow me to sleep. However, by day three I was already starting to lower the number of times I took my pain meds. I needed them to fall asleep, but I wasn't taking them throughout the day. I was able to sleep most of the night as well. On day 5 I had a post op appointment. My swelling was low and everything was looking good. I was able to drive with minimal difficulty/discomfort. I had a locked knee brace for the first week. Started the CPM Machine at 30-40 degrees, increasing 5 degrees every day.

Days 6- 15

Didn't take any pain meds & was able to sleep through most of the night without issues. Sleeping on my back would get tough sometimes, but nothing unbearable. I really didn't like my brace. It was very uncomfortable and caused bruising. Turns out it was because it was broken... I had a lot of trouble doing PT exercises like single leg raises even with the brace locked at zero. Have to keep wound dry for a few more weeks.

Days: 16-24

I really don't have much pain. I'm still completely non-weight bearing so I'm sure this will change once I start to transition my weight back over. Since I have no pain it gets hard to want to stay in bed all day. I get out of the house quite frequently to spend time with friends. I get tired by the end of it, but to me its worth it to be with friends.

My incision is healed over now. The bottom half had a harder time healing than the top half which makes sense since the skin has different elasticity on the bottom of the knee. I should be able to start putting weight on it in about a week which I can not wait. I'm getting very tired of being on crutches. Since I don't have any pain and my energy levels are very high I think with help to feel a little discomfort when I start weight bearing. I think it will lower the desire to get back out there.

I was given an EMS/TENS machine to use at PT and at home. It is an Electrical Muscle Stimulation machine, which contracts the muscle to help wake the muscle back up. I really saw a difference in my muscle strength after I started using this.  I still cant go pasted 90 degrees with the CPM Machine and I still have not gotten the incision wet. I have a decent amount of scar tissue forming under my scar, which is normal but I'll really need to work on throughout the coming weeks.

My Spirits: Overall, the biggest hurdle for me is being okay with being stationary for a few weeks. I'm very active and young, so its hard for me to stay indoors. I was able to go to the pool for the first time in weeks, which really helped my morale. I'm really looking forward to swimming which i should be able to do very soon. Again, once I start to feel pain when I walk I almost think it will help. Right now I'm just antsy.

Helpful Tips:

1. Start the EMS Machine as soon as possible.
2. Get a strap on pouch for your crutches (found on amazon)
3. Get a shower seat
4. When preparing for surgery do single leg raises while laying on your side to strengthen your butt muscles and the sides of your quads. I think this has really helped support my upper quad and knee by strengthening these before surgery.
5. Get a half moon pillow for under your knees
6. Get extra zip lock bags. These are the easiest to carry things while on crutches.
7. Get collagen powder. I bought vital proteins. While i feel like it's made a difference, even if it hasn't it still gave me the feeling like I was helping my knee recover faster.

Things I wish I knew:

1.   IMPORTANT!!!: Since my doctor did not file the script for my CPM machine within two days of surgery my insurance wouldn't cover it. Make sure you're getting on your doctors about filing this script.
2.   I didn't need to take all of my pain meds
3.   Your recovery might not be like what you're reading on this site... While the information on here was extremely helpful, mine hasn't been anything like what I've read. I got the impression that this would be extremely painful after surgery. While I've had difficult days on crutches, it's very manageable. I read a thread on here where a 34 year old couldn't return back to work for 2 months and couldn't even go to the movie theatre 4 weeks in. But reading her post terrified me...  Granted I'm 23, but it's important to know that your rate of recovery is going to be at your own pace, whether thats faster or slower.
4.    If you think something seems weird don't wait, ask. I was hesitant to keep reminding my doctors about the CPM machine or asking why my brace feels weird. I didn't want to waste their time, but in reality, doctors and medical staff are ridiculously busy and because of this they can easily miss things. If you think something doesn't seem right, it's because i probably isn't. Ask again.
5.    Ask your doctor to call you 48 hours post op. My doctor did and it really help boost my confidence and make me trust him that much more. Doctors should always be doing this in my opinion and I really appreciate that he took the time to check in.

While I know that I have a LONG way to go before I feel like myself again, I'm very happy to feel like I'm finally moving forward. I will report back with an update in a few weeks.

 To all of those about to have surgery, I wish you the best of luck with your journey.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 11:36:17 PM by KellyBrown22 »