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Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Hillwalking after knee replacement?


Postby ChrisButch » Tue Sep 21, 2021 11:14 am

Anybody have experience of how long recuperation is necessary after knee replacement before serious hillwalking becomes possible again? I realise every case is different, but it would be good to hear from anyone who's gone through this and come out the other side...
(Have fast developing osteoarthritis)
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby Moder-dye » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:56 pm

3 years on from a partial knee replacement (I'm 51 yo). I was off work for 4 months afterwards as I had a flare up in it just before I was due back through me over doing my physio and re-strengthening instead of just doing what was needed.

It's a massive improvement on how I was before the operation, but definitely has it's limits, and to be fair I do push it a bit much. I would say that the NHS don't expect it to get the use that I give mine!

I've done a few steady 100 mile bike rides and 250 miles over 4 days and it managed, but was fairly stiff and inflamed afterwards.

In terms of walking it's sometimes better than others. The furthest I've walked is about 15 miles on unchallenging ground with a day bag, but sometimes a handful of miles on rough ground and I know about it. Coming down steep and uneven stuff is the most challenging. I use poles on rough ground now and for step descents.

I did an short lumpy rough walk (8 mile all in) to camp this weekend with a full pack and it really wasn't happy at all afterwards, but I think it was more the kneeling, squatting, crouching about and being on the floor cooking and camping that upset it rather than the walking. The yesterday I had to do 10 miles on fairly easy terrain with a day bag for work and it's not to bad today, probably more still inflamed from the crouching about camping than the easy walking yesterday.

Bear in mind that mine is a partial though. The operated bit is always fine, its what's left of my natural knee joint soft tissues that get's inflamed and stiff. The outer knee. I get a bleb that pops out when i bend it when it's inflamed and teh quad tendon gets grumpy. You might not get that with a full replacement, I don't know.

Regardless the key to recovery is taking the pain meds after the op so that you can do the physio to get full range of motion back and re-activate your quads. Don't be over enthusiastic like I was though!

Once that's all settled and OK you'll need to put in work building back up the strength of the various quad muscles and tendon and proprioception of the knee (single leg balances, wall sits and slant board eccentric squats etc once you're ready) which are particularly important for going down hills and steps in a controlled manner.

I have a very good ROM with mine; squatting for an al-fresco dump is fine, which is important too!

Good luck with your operation! I don't regret mine at all.
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby Caberfeidh » Fri Sep 24, 2021 6:21 am

Could I bagsy the bits for my stock pot please?
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby ChrisButch » Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:16 am

MD - many thanks for comprehensive and encouraging response.
CF - already promised to next door's Jack Russell.
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby Alex W » Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:19 pm

I have not a knee replacement, but I have had separate serious injuries to both knees which needed surgical repair (full quad tendon rupture). Coming back to fitness for the hills is a long and arduous process. I find two issues interfere with my hill fitness:

- quad strength and general leg strength - what you used to have gets lost when spending months in a leg brace and on crutches
- proprioception - you don't have full control over where your feet are going and you have loss of confidence when in motion

Both manifest themselves on steep or rough terrain whether going up or down and lead to me slowing right down. It's not aerobic fitness which is the problem as I can maintain a good pace continuously on a good path and/ or on the flat for up to 20 miles. On the steep and rough ground I just slow right down.

The last of my surgery was about 4 years ago and on the face of it there's a full recovery, but the fitness aspect needs much more work and it goes beyond what you get from the otherwise excellent NHS physios who helped with the rehab. I spent a long time working on heart and lungs until I realised that actually that wasn't the problem. I'm now doing specific strengthening of quads and calves and spending time on a wobble board. At the age of 62 it's not easy building strength.

I expect that there would be similar issues after knee replacement surgery.

It's not all bad. Even if I stayed at exactly the state I'm in, I can still get up and down hills. I just have to allow for extra time and my companions have to put up with me being a lot slower than them on the steep bits.
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:12 pm

ChrisButch wrote:Anybody have experience of how long recuperation is necessary after knee replacement before serious hillwalking becomes possible again? I realise every case is different, but it would be good to hear from anyone who's gone through this and come out the other side...
(Have fast developing osteoarthritis)


Just spotted this...

I've had a knee replacement for around 6 years now, hence my name on this website.

It's a massive improvement over the pain and restrictions I had before, and I've been able to do summer and winter walking and scrambling.

I agree with the other comments on this thread. My summary would be:

Keep doing the physio exercises
Don't overdo it
Keep your rucksack as light as possible
If you don't use them already, give walking poles a try
The overall mileage of a walk is not a problem
Take the steep bits slowly when going up and especially when going down
But, scrambles at Grade 1 (in ascent) are still fine, as long as you have enough flex (90 degrees or more) in your knee
Plan routes where possible to avoid steep rocky descents. In winter, using crampons is no problem, but again try to find less steep descent routes
Walking on grass or on typical hill paths / stalkers' paths is generally nicer than modern constructed stone paths (there are not too many of those in Scotland, but there are a lot in the Lakes!)
If you like camping, think carefully about all the bending etc needed - that can be more challenging for knees than the walking
Personally, my routes are generally not ambitious, and I also take time out in each walk to sit and look at the view. If you want to get back to big multi-Munro days over steep ground, you might need to do some additional fitness training.

Hope that's useful!

Tim
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby ChrisButch » Mon Oct 04, 2021 7:32 am

Thanks again for the very helpful and encouraging responses. I'm seeing the consultant next week, and all this will be invaluable in deciding what happens next.
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:14 am

Caberfeidh wrote:Could I bagsy the bits for my stock pot please?


ChrisButch wrote:CF - already promised to next door's Jack Russell.


Could I have the Jack Russell for my stock pot please? :wink:
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Re: Hillwalking after knee replacement?

Postby Sgurr » Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:42 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:Could I bagsy the bits for my stock pot please?


Met a woman who had done the Frog Graham Round 2 years after a hip (NOT KNEE) replacement and asked for the knobbly bit for a walking stick head, and was refused it "But it's mine, it was part of my body." "Not now it isn't, it's medical waste." Bad luck Caberfeidh
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