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Thread: Riding after knee replacement

  1. #1
    Registered User dlong's Avatar
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    Riding after knee replacement

    I've been struggling with knee osteoarthritis for decades and finding it increasingly limiting. I thought I could delay replacement surgery until I was ready to quit riding. Now I find myself nearing 74 and with no desire to quit. My greatest fear is that for whatever reason, surgery will mean the end of my riding. So...to those who have undergone knee replacement...are you still riding? How long before you could get back on the bike? Any tips or encouraging thoughts to help in my decision?

  2. #2
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    dlong- You're not alone with this struggle. I'm a couple of years older than you, have left-knee osteoarthritis and am finding shifting is difficult. I've felt this coming on for about ten years. At 6'4" tall, I've adapted a 2008 (now sold) RT and a 2015 RT with higher seat, Ilium Sport Boards and other accommodations. In the past few months, I've even been considering a switch to some Honda with a DCT transmission. I've even considered a large scooter, just to keep in the game, so to speak.

    The problem is that being on two wheels with the throttle cranked and zooming through the curves is so addictive, that it's very hard to put all that in the past. I'll watch this thread for some solutions...
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison 2018-Present
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  3. #3
    ABC,AMA(LIFE),MOA,RA,IBMW MANICMECHANIC's Avatar
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    I have had both knees replaced, three years apart. Prior to the first one, during the exam, I told the surgeon I wanted to be back on two wheels within six weeks. He kinda snickered. Four weeks after surgery I walked the half-mile to PT and back. At five weeks I rode my R90/6 to PT. At the next session I rode my R1200GSA. I even did an extra two weeks of PT, just to make sure everything was good. After the second surgery I was driving after a week, and shoveling and blowing snow. I'm 68. Don't tell me I can't do something. How badly do you want it. The mind is a wonderful healing tool. Make it work for you.
    F.O.G.Rider, Rounder #6,
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  4. #4
    At 71 I had a total knee replacement. My surgery was in December. I was determined to ride and did follow up PT as instructed. I was driving my car safely in three weeks and had my first bike ride in March. I continue to ride pain free and seldom think about my knee. I received sound advice to take pain meds as prescribed as PT will accomplish more. The first 10 days post-op are difficult but after that it is all good.

  5. #5
    My knees are fine but i know several riders that have had knees replaced. They do ok on harleys or cruiser style bikes with floorboards or forward pegs, not so well on bikes that have a forward bent knee riding position. That's probably not what someone on the BMW forum wants to hear.

  6. #6
    Knee replacement was the best thing I ever did, wish I had done it a decade ago. Within 30 days, my knee was better than it was before surgery. I was back on the bike in 60 days. I traded the Goldwing for a R1200RT, and ride a Ducati Mutistrada.
    Knee bend is no longer a limitation, I could ride a sportbike if my back and hands could take it (arthritis from different injuries).

    I had a total knee in Dec of 2019. Repetitive knee injuries and osteoarthritis for 30 years, much worse the last 10 years. Lots of pain, my knee had limited me to a Goldwing or a cruiser for the relaxed knee bend and the ability to move around and use highway pegs to frequently change positions. Bad limp all the time, very easy to aggravate my knee and cause it to swell up for a couple of days.

    The only time I think about my knee now is when I realize I'm not having to think about my knee anymore.

    EDIT: Your recovery will be determined by how hard you work in PT. Talk to your therapist up front about what you want to accomplish, and have an honest discussion about what exercises you can push hard on which ones you should only do exactly what they say and no more. Know that you will hit plateaus and have setbacks, it will be frustrating at times, but the improvement will be amazing.

    Ultimately, you decide the level of function you get after surgery.
    Alan in Denver - 2016 RT, 2016 Multistrada.
    It was once believed that an infinite number of monkeys, typing on an infinite number of keyboards would, through sheer chance, replicate the works of Shakespeare.
    Thanks to internet message boards, we now know this is not the case.

  7. #7
    Jerry Emhoff
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    In 2014 I had both knees replaced a month apart, I did all the PT and was able to ride after about a month. I think doing the PT is the most important part of the recovery. In 2018 I rode over 12,000 miles to Alaska and back with no problem. Iím pretty active, I do lots of walking, play golf, and hunt the mountains out west. Now at 67 I have very little knee pain but there are a couple things I canít do. The doctor says no running as it wears the new knees out and when I get down on my knees on hard surfaces it hurts without knee pads.
    Winter is coming

  8. #8
    Registered User drneo66's Avatar
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    As many others have said - your physical therapy is super important to bring you back to being able to move properly, without pain.

    I would also add that, just because you can't use one leg for a while, doesn't mean that you can't be move other parts of your body. I can tell the clients that come to see me who have kept up some movement, as they have much less of a hole to dig out of post surgery. There has been some positive research that suggests that moving and strengthening the uninvolved limb, can transfer some of that strength to the knee that has had surgery. Also, you'll get a clean bill of health after PT, but make sure that you keep working to maintain or possibly improve your overall leg strength. Just because you're done with PT, doesn't mean that you never have to exercise again.


    (This should not be construed as medical advice, you and your care team know your body and situation much better than I do.)
    Current: 2007 BMW R1200RT, 2013 F800GS
    Former: 1995 BMW K75S, 2009 BMW G650GS
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  9. #9
    '14 R1200 GS Adv bigjohnsd's Avatar
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    Orthopedic Surgeons will tell you "Most people wait too long!"

    Mine told me, You will tell me when it is time".

    In October 2016 at age 65 it was time, I couldn't walk 1/4 mile while Pheasant hunting. I called him and after the preliminary exams, production of the joint, etc my knee was replaced on December 20th.

    I started PT right after New Years day and worked hard for about 8 weeks.

    I rode my FJR to Florida in May and rode my KLR up the Dumpster Highway to Inuvik NWT CA in June.

    Today I don't even think about the right knee.

    People that wait to long often end up with hip issues.
    Get your knee done, you will be glad you did and be ready to ride before you know it.
    The only dumb question is the unasked question!

    Team Pterodactyl - When we ride, we ride!

  10. #10
    drgnhtr
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    What everybody said doubled. I waited till I was 67 (five years ago)to do my left and should have done it sooner. The only problem I've had since is that now that my knee doesn't hurt I notice all of the other aches and pains.

  11. #11
    Finally had my L knee replaced 13 years ago at age 52. For years they said "you're too young"...and..."the only thing that will help you is a total knee replacement". I only had 15 degrees of movement by the time it was done. How bad the bones are will determine how long the recovery, mine was lengthy. The good news is that the newer hardware is much better than what went before. It will quit hurting, eventually. It was about 4 months before I could comfortably ride again, which sounds long, but considering that I couldn't stand more than about 30 miles prior to the replacement, it was a great improvement.

    The upshot of it all? Do it! You'll be so glad you did.
    Last edited by Stebe; 04-21-2021 at 07:00 PM.

  12. #12
    Registered User dlong's Avatar
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    To all...thanks so much for sharing your experience and encouraging remarks. I meet with my surgeon in 3 weeks. Summer in AZ seems like a good time to do the rehab as it's too damn hot to do much else.

  13. #13
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    Along the same lines, I had my right hip replaced Jan. 28. It had gotten to the point that at times I needed a cane to walk. I had not ridden my K75 in several months because I just didn't trust my right leg to hold it up. I had a very competent and highly praised surgeon who assured me I could ride bicycle and motorcycle after surgery . The surgery went very well and compared to knee PT, it was a walk in the park-literally. PT consisted of at home leg exercises and just walking. At my six week checkup and X-ray, he said everything looked very good and I could do most anything I wanted including riding 2 wheeled vehicles. I waited 11 weeks after surgery to try my K75. I had ridden my smaller cycles, but I was concerned about getting my leg over the taller K seat. Everything felt good and it was a joy to ride it again. It is also a good feeling to get out of bed in the morning and walk to the bathroom without limping or pain. HIP HIP! Hooray! I rode my K today!

  14. #14
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWIECK View Post
    Along the same lines, I had my right hip replaced Jan. 28. It had gotten to the point that at times I needed a cane to walk. I had not ridden my K75 in several months because I just didn't trust my right leg to hold it up. I had a very competent and highly praised surgeon who assured me I could ride bicycle and motorcycle after surgery . The surgery went very well and compared to knee PT, it was a walk in the park-literally. PT consisted of at home leg exercises and just walking. At my six week checkup and X-ray, he said everything looked very good and I could do most anything I wanted including riding 2 wheeled vehicles. I waited 11 weeks after surgery to try my K75. I had ridden my smaller cycles, but I was concerned about getting my leg over the taller K seat. Everything felt good and it was a joy to ride it again. It is also a good feeling to get out of bed in the morning and walk to the bathroom without limping or pain. HIP HIP! Hooray! I rode my K today!
    Wish I hadn't waited so long to have my left hip replaced! Pain after was really insignificant compared to what I had lived with for too long. December 10 was my date and I was walking the day of surgery and riding 2 months later. No finer feeling than riding my R11RS Big RED with confidence once more!

    Voni
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  15. #15
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    Pain sneaks up on you and Voni's story I have heard many times over the years especially people who get their hips replaced.

    We are kind of like the frog in the cold water never jumping out as it heats up. By the time we finally get "fed up" with pain, or stress for that matter, its usually far past the time we should have made a change. Certainly been true for me though I feel I might be getting wiser as I pass 60.

    Great stories in this thread of PT after surgery and then successful return to happy endeavors!
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