Brittani Simpson Patient Story – Knee Replacement

After years of increasing knee pain, at 46 Brittani decided to have total knee replacements on both of her knees. A year later, she was back doing the activities she loves.

Life with Knee Arthritis

“I was in my early 30’s when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in several of my joints. My doctor actually told me that my knees looked like that of a 60 year old. He cautioned that if I stayed as active as I was, that I wouldn’t be active in my 40’s. So, I stopped running, exercising… everything. I became depressed. That’s not how I wanted to live.

I tried anti-inflammatory medications and foods to help manage the swelling and pain. My doctor also recommended injections. None of it really provided much relief. So, I tried another kind of injection which initially worked. This phase lasted about 6 years, but everything became less effective over time.

Also during this 6 year period, my doctor recommended an arthroscopic surgery to clean up some torn and broken cartilage debris in my knees. I had 2 of these kinds of surgeries to try to help reduce my pain.  

By 44, both of my knees were completely shot.

The bone-on-bone condition in my knees was so bad that there wasn’t any cartilage left. I knew at that point it was only going to get worse.

I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted from waking up 20 times a night screaming in pain.

I had trouble getting up and standing up for any period of time. When I did get up, I’d stumble because my knees felt so unstable. Sometimes, a knee would just give out on me.

I was always in horrible pain.

I was still trying to live my life how I wanted to … traveling, being active … snowboarding. But, it was so different and frustrating. I’d snowboard but then I couldn’t walk for 3 days. It would take me several days to recover from a simple hike. Just going up and down stairs was a real challenge. I ended up entering a body building competition during this time, and won! But, all of this was through intense pain.

I knew it was time to get both knees replaced."

Not all patients are candidates for this product and/or procedure. Only a medical professional can determine the treatment appropriate for your specific condition.

"It was nice having a doctor that understood the quality of life that I wanted to live. I need to be active to be happy. And even though I was young, I didn’t want to waste any more of my life in pain. It’s too short and I had too much that I wanted to do. I didn’t want to spend it unable to move like I wanted. I wanted to live fully… now. If I only have “x” number of years left, I want them to be the best.

Before the surgery, I pushed myself through the pain of working out regularly and staying active so I could be strong for the recovery. I knew that staying active was one of the best things I could do to help in my recovery. I didn't know what to expect, but I was very optimistic. 

Recovering from Bilateral Total Knee Replacement

In February 2018, I had bilateral total knee replacement, which means I had both knees replaced at the same time.

Five days after surgery, I was like, this is complete BS. I didn’t know how to get to the bathroom. I didn’t know how to use my walker. I couldn’t feel my joint or lift my leg like I was used to. I wasn’t prepared to feel so disabled and felt like I was not prepared for how challenging my recovery would be, especially having both knees done at the same time.

It was also very difficult until I got pain meds that worked for me. I didn’t realize that my body reacted differently to certain pain medications. Initially, in the hospital, once the epidural wore off, I received pain pills. The pills made me feel sick and itchy. So, my doctor had me try different medications until I found a solution that worked for me. Figuring all this out was a bit of a turning point for me."

It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders and work hard in the weeks and months following joint replacement surgery to complete your physical therapy.

"I also knew that with a procedure like this, I’d get out of it what I put into it. Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing – I’d have to put in the effort to get the results I wanted. I also set myself up for a positive atmosphere during recovery. I asked friends to stop by. I put up a bird feeder right outside my window where I could watch them. Everything wasn’t completely joyous … I had several issues along the way. But, it was worth it.

Two weeks after surgery I was traveling again. I transitioned from a walker to a cane, which I then only used for about another week before I felt more secure moving. A week after that I was driving.

I was very active and did all my physical therapy. I started noticing that my left knee wouldn’t straighten all the way and my right knee would only bend to about 90 degrees. At about 9 weeks after surgery I had an arthroscopic manipulation done on both knees to release some scar tissue that had attached to my implants and was inhibiting my recovery. But, it was a relatively easy procedure and I was right up and back to life. Now, both knees go to about 140 degrees of flexion, which I think is a really great range of motion."

“My new knees are life changing! It was so worth it.”

Appropriate post-operative activities and pain will differ from patient to patient. Results are not necessarily typical, indicative, or representative of all recipient patients.  Results will vary due to health, weight, activity and other variables.

"Eleven weeks after surgery I was wake surfing.

Nine months after surgery I was surfing* in the ocean.

A year later, I traveled to the Alps in France for a very active, 10-day trip with my family.

While I stay as active as I want to, I try not to jump and run as much so that I don't wear my knees out too soon. Otherwise, I’ve experienced no restrictions since surgery."

Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risks of infection, implant wear, loosening, breakage or failure, any of which can necessitate additional surgery or treatment.

"They don’t feel exactly like my “normal” knees. I can sometimes hear them when I walk. It’s totally worth it, but it’s not your own knees in there – they are prosthetics. Just something to remember.

My new knees are life changing! It was so worth it. I can sleep through the night. I’m totally active again. I can hike, bike, wakeboard*, surf*, and stay very active thanks to my new knees. I have my quality of life back."

*OF NOTE: The American Academy of Orthopedic surgeons reports that, "...total knee replacement will not allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis." In addition, just "with normal use and activity, every knee replacement implant begins to wear in its plastic spacer", so, "Excessive activity" may cause loosening, wear, and pain and "most surgeons advise against high-impact activities, such as running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports for the rest of your life after surgery"; the following are listed as "realistic activities" after total knee replacement: walking, swimming, golf, driving, light hiking, biking, ballroom dancing, and other low-impact sports. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-knee-replacement

Additionally, the AAOS reports that "Lower impact fitness activities such as golfing, bicycling, and light tennis will help increase the longevity of your knee and are preferable over high-impact activities such as jogging, racquetball and skiing." https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/activities-after-knee-replacement

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