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Old 13-09-2016, 02:53   #1
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Sailing with replacement knees

I am in my mid sixties and still very fit and healthy, except for osteo-arthritis in my knees. I cruise from Ireland for two months or more each summer on the Atlantic coast of Europe, largely single handed, venturing as far as Portugal and the Azores and exploring the countryside on my fold up bike.
This last summer, my knees gave me more grief than before, waking me in the middle of the night with pain, so I went to see a surgeon to discuss the possibility of prosthetic replacements. I happened to mention that for the past few years, I have found work-wear trousers with built in knee pads very useful, allowing me to kneel to grind a winch without too much thought. His response was that most people with replacement knees find it impossible to kneel without pain, and suggested that I should not elect for replacements until I find it impossible to sail at all without them, otherwise the operation may well put a premature end to my sailing - perish the thought!
There must be others out there with experience of sailing with and without prosthetics, from whom I would love to hear. How far should I go in putting up with sore knees before trying the prosthetics, and how good are they for the cruising sailor?
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Old 13-09-2016, 03:17   #2
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I can't comment on kneeling with prosthetic knees, but I have something else to suggest. I've been diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in both knees. The pain was getting so bad that I sometimes had trouble walking across the room. Ibuprofen and naproxin sodium had helped for a time, but no longer worked. So I went in for cortisone injections, one in each knee. It took about three weeks for the relief to kick in. That was 14 months ago, and I'm still enjoying the relief. I still have knee pain, but it's not debilitating.

Before going under the knife, give the cortisone shots a try.
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Old 13-09-2016, 03:30   #3
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I dealt with bad knee pain for many years due to sports injuries when I was young. I had my left knee replaced 6 years ago, and the right is about 18 months old. I can still kneel, although it did take a few months for me to be able to do it without too much pain. A gardner's pad helps a lot. Getting my knees done was the best thing I could have done to return to an active life. Most of the time I forget that I had knee problems, and I even found myself hopping off the boat onto the dock!
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Old 13-09-2016, 04:19   #4
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I live b in the land of geriatric athletes. I don't mean any disrespect! Knee replacement is quite common here and usually done by men and women to prolong their active / sports oriented ĺife styles.
No on I've met has complained that their goal was not met. My own dad had had both knees replaced (career lineman for the phone company when most lines were overhead) and at 68 her wins his division state wide as a bicycle racer.

I think you need a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Find a sports medicine doctor. I think your fellows information may be out of date and based on old technology. M much improved for my dad's surgery in the 10 years between knees.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:09   #5
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Sea Dreaming +1
Absolutely get another opinion!
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:09   #6
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I had both knees replace last year. I am 54 and had issues from athletics in high school. Cortisone worked for a few years, but the shots had to come more often, as close as three months. I have a cruiser and not a sail boat, but I am renovating and just finished all new controls systems and gauges for the diesels. I can kneel for a short period (a lot of time in the engine room and climbing around the engines) without pain, but it feels strange. If you get a good pair of knee pads or possibly the pants with the pads built in, you should be fine. The trade off for the absence of pain is more than worth it.
The difference in your lifestyle away from sailing will amaze you.
Good Luck
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:10   #7
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cortizohe for knees

Get cortizone injections before operations.


;2212178]I am in my mid sixties and still very fit and healthy, except for osteo-arthritis in my knees. I cruise from Ireland for two months or more each summer on the Atlantic coast of Europe, largely single handed, venturing as far as Portugal and the Azores and exploring the countryside on my fold up bike.
This last summer, my knees gave me more grief than before, waking me in the middle of the night with pain, so I went to see a surgeon to discuss the possibility of prosthetic replacements. I happened to mention that for the past few years, I have found work-wear trousers with built in knee pads very useful, allowing me to kneel to grind a winch without too much thought. His response was that most people with replacement knees find it impossible to kneel without pain, and suggested that I should not elect for replacements until I find it impossible to sail at all without them, otherwise the operation may well put a premature end to my sailing - perish the thought!
There must be others out there with experience of sailing with and without prosthetics, from whom I would love to hear. How far should I go in putting up with sore knees before trying
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:11   #8
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Get cortixone injections before operstion.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:14   #9
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I am 64 and have had one replacement knee and a replaced hip on the other side. I then was in a motorcycle accident and the "good" knee has a metal parts in it. The only problem I have is with the "good" unreplaced knee standing at the helm for a long period of time. I will probably replace that one before too long.I often forget that the replaced knee and hip are bad at all. Even kneeling doesn't hurt so much as feels numb. I recommend something to kneel on.

Replacement surgery has come a long way and I highly recommend it. I too suffered for decades with osteoarthritis. I tried injections and pain killers but they are not a long term solution.

Good luck and don't give up sailing...unless you don't want to sail anymore.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:16   #10
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Depending on your age, delay as long as possible so that you'll never have to replace your replacements. As we get older, rehab and recovery is more of a problem. The technology is so good now that's almost certain in the US.

New knees without complications will feel so much better. Complications may mean you need to go under for another surgery and never walk right again.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:27   #11
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

I don't have an answer for the OP but I would like to thank those that did answer because I am having the same problem. I was really worried I might have to give up sailing before I wanted. I am so pleased to hear that there are others out there that have successfully continued to sail.
I was worried that knee replacement surgery might fail and make things worse.
It looks like cortisone might be a good short term treatment and maybe give me a few extra years before a full replacement.

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Old 13-09-2016, 08:31   #12
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Sir,
I am a physical therapist in NY. I have had patients who could kneel and others who couldn't. You have more points in your favor (active, healthy, motivated) than against you. Every case is different, even the results of cortisone injections. Get as much info as you can. Speak to other active people who have had the surgery.
My personal opinion is that life is too short as it is. Some pain while kneeling for a short time if that needs to be the case greatly offsets forgoing a lifestyle that gives you satisfaction. Plan your surgery so you have 6-7 months to recuperate and rehabilitate. Most importantly, find a PT that supports your goals, then listen to them.
Good Luck,
Jeff
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:31   #13
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Hello, I'm 72 and am going on 3 years with having both knees replaced. Best thing I ever did. I single hand and don't really have any problems. I do keep a good pair of knee pads on board and use them when needed and sometimes just something to just cushion the knees from the deck is all I need, but everything else is no problem. I climb my mast, up and down the companion way and run around the boat like a young kid with no problem. Before I had the replacements I couldn't step off of a curb without being in severe pain. And walking down a set of stairs or down a steep incline took everything I could muster up. I was told that with what they are using today (the replacements) and the technology they are good for a minimum of 20 years. I would recommend to anyone with serious knee problems. And that's my two cents worth.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:39   #14
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Left knee replaced 14 years ago (sports), right femur fractured and fixed 12 years ago with titanium rod insertion (fell from ladder), now 83 & sailing again. My advice:
1. Delay surgery until you can't stand the pain/inconvenience any more. You'll know when that happens!
2. After surgery, drag a foam pad along with you when you expect to be on your knees for any length of time, say messing with your anchor chain or scrubbing a filthy deck. The rest of the time you won't even think about the fact your knees are artificial!

It works fine for me, a warm water sailor based in Florida, with a Bahamas and a Cuba trip last winter.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:49   #15
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Re: Sailing with replacement knees

Just an added note. Make absolutely, positively sure you will be committed to the PT. If you are no willing to totally commit to working through the pain and do exactly what your PT tells you to do, then by all means DO NOT even consider having this done.
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