On October 7th, it will be the anniversary of the total knee replacement (TKR) surgery on my left knee. I'll be recapping what I've learned during the past year in some upcoming posts, but I wanted to share these pics of my knees.
I took the first picture just a few days before the surgery. I had been cycling quite a bit that summer, since cycling was about the only activity I could really do without pain and swelling. The thing that stands out in this picture is the severe outward slant or "valgus" deformation of my left leg. My knee had grown very arthritic over the last 15 years, stemming from old sports injuries and removal of cartilage when I was a young man. I didn't help that during my 30s and early 40s, I got away from regular exercise and gained a lot of weight, which probably accelerated the need to have the surgery last year at age 49.
In the second picture, you can see the condition of my knee on October 5, 2010. Obviously, it's much straighter. For comparison sake, I even wore the same old camping shorts I wore the year before. My apologies on the black socks.
Not only is the leg straighter, it's as strong as it was the year before. In 2009, I was able to ride a six-hour century, and did so again in September of 2010. The muscle strength is back to where it was, though I think that now that my leg is straighter, I'm beginning to improve my muscle strength and tone beyond where it was before the TKR. Most importantly, my knee is functionally much better off the bike, restoring my ability to engage in activities like hikes and stream fishing that I had to give up or curtail before the surgery.
I'll be blogging more soon about what the past year has taught me about cycling-focused TKR rehab, but as they say, a picture tells 1,000 words.