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Why the Weight Gain after Joint Replacement

In an article by Tracey Bryant, The University of Delaware researchers  Joseph Zeni and Lynn Snyder-Mackler in the Department of Physical Therapy are doing research on Rehabilitation of Older Adults after Knee Replacement. Their findings showed a weight increase in 67% of those having  had knee surgery, compared with a control group.  Over a two year time period the average weight gain was 14 pounds.

Their findings included the following statement :

“For physical therapists and surgeons, the common thinking is that after a patient’s knee has been replaced, that patient will be more active,” says Snyder-Mackler. “But the practices and habits these patients developed to get around in the years prior to surgery are hard to break, and often they don’t take advantage of the functional gain once they get a new knee,” she notes.

For those of us that have endured long term chronic pain, have altered our lifestyles for years and were in great pain prior to surgery, I totally relate to this statement.  I know the gap that existed for me when I was suddenly pain free and I was supposed to trust that I would now be able to do things I could not do previously. I remember having to watch others do things, like get into a car. I had a developed a crazy distorted way of doing it. And what was strange was that I could watch another person do it but my muscles struggled to understand it. I had to go very slowly, trying to imitate the move and eventually I could do it. But it was as if there was a loud internal voice  telling me “You are really going to pay a pain price if you try to do that. You can’t do that”

This is the reason I continue to want to connect on this subject of chronic pain recovery. There is much more that someone needs to do to thrive. In addition to joint replacement surgery, we need other interventions. We have to reconnect with our selves as we were before the pain experience. Pain leaves a lot of debris that needs to be cleared to fully appreciate a new lifestyle.

Have you felt a disconnect in being able to appreciate your abilities post pain/surgery? How have you dealt with it?

About Mary Byrne Eigel

I am a writer/artist from the midwest. I have a husband, two great daughters and a son-in-law. I was born with hip dysplasia that was not diagnosed until I began walking. After many years of chronic pain, at the age of 40, I had bilateral hip replacements. Recently, 18 years after the original surgery, I had to have a revision of my right hip. I have always felt that surgery may have cured my pain, but that I still needed to heal from the extended pain experience. Chronic pain had left its ugly residue, and it needed to be removed. Since the first surgery, I have spent time writing and working on reintegrating my body and mind. And would love to connect with those who share the same feeling that surgery and physical therapy are only 2 aspects of healing. And that there is a "Missing Piece" that needs to be addressed.

3 responses »

  1. I have experienced this time and again after a flare-up. I have found Feldenkrais to help me safely discover efficiant and appropriate ways of moving within the current state of my body.
    I routinely recommend it to patients after injuries or trauma, as it helps move out of the compensatory movement habits.


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your journey too. Continue to be a light to the world in your own special way… =)

  3. Mary Byrne Eigel

    Bless you and your kind words.

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