Biking after TKR

Biking after a Total Knee Replacement

Prosthetic Knee Replacement

Having a Total Knee Replacement should allow you to enjoy the life you love without the pain and difficulty you can get from having a dodgy knee, though it can have a major impact on your life at least for a short while. I will share my story here for those bikers who are perhaps a few steps behind me, and considering having it done.

FJ1200 demolished under lorry axle

I got wiped out by a lorry in the late 1990’s, fortunately I managed to throw myself away from the lorry whilst the bike ended up demolished under the rear axle. After rolling across the tarmac of a busy motorway island and seeing a changing view of tarmac – sky a few times I stood up in the middle of the road, and my first though was my legs must be OK. In the main they were, I ended up with a dislocated finger joint and a stretched interior knee ligament.

Rightly or wrongly I blamed that accident for the knackered knee I ended up with some years later.

In 2006 I was diagnosed with arthritis of my left knee, it progressively got worse and far more painful. I replaced my Honda Pan European ST1100 with a Royal Enfield Himalayan as the pain and grinding in my knee whilst trying to get the Pan back on my drive was just too much. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t too bad, but after being nagged by my wife and daughter for years to get it sorted and still trying pass it off as OK, I saw my reflection walking towards a shop window and realised just how deformed my leg had become. It was now 2022 and time to do something about it.

Knackered Knee

Having Bupa medical insurance I was able to request the procedure to be carried out after the biking seasons was over, and was booked in for the end of November. My expectation was to be pretty much recovered by Christmas, build my leg strength back up, and be out riding as soon as the weather picked up.

My expectations were shot down in flames.

The first six weeks were extremely painful, and despite religiously doing the icing and the physio I could still not get the bend to to progress any further than 70 degrees.

17 hours on a bending machine, not fun.

So eight weeks after the initial op I was back in for a ‘Manipulation Under Anaesthetic’ to break up the adhesions that had formed. Not a painful procedure but hearing those adhesion snap was not exactly pleasant.

The worst part was being strapped into a automatic bending machine to prevent the adhesions reforming.

The consultant managed to get 120 degrees out of it, but that reduced later to around 105 for a while.

I will point out that majority of people having a TKR do not have this problem, only around 4-7%, it just depends on how your body heals.

The fear of not being able to ride for the coming season was setting in. I needed to be able to comfortably hold a bend of at least 115 – 120 degrees to ride my Versys which was my main bike. In desperation I decided to buy a bike I could actually get on and ride, so after looking around for a while I found a 4 year old Kawasaki Vulcan with only 426 miles on the clock.

Kawasaki Vulcan

Happy days, I was back on two wheels, though different to ride and a little uncomfortable to ride at first.

I still needed to get on my Versys and be comfortable, we had another trip to Belgium planned for the end of May, which in the end we did postpone until next year.

Finally, enough bend
Finally, enough bend.

Three weeks or so after buying the Vulcan I could bend my knee far enough to get on the Versys, but it was still tight and a little uncomfortable. The first ride was not that pleasant, after about 30 minutes I needed to stretch out out my knee, but it did OK and I managed a good 120 miles.

So where are we now some seven months on? Its still a bit stiff at times, not really any pain, and no real problems riding the Vulcan or the Versys. Standing on the pegs of the Versys to take the weight of my backside, which I have always done, makes the knee twinge a bit, but they reckon you don’t get full strength back for up to two years.

I am back riding around the Peak district without any concerns. The Interceptor is still uncomfortable, and I don’t intend to do any off road riding, so the Interceptor and Himalayan are up for sale. It was a frustrating few months, but I am now on the other side of it and back in action, happy days.