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Can I carry on gardening when I've had my knee replaced?

Q) I’m nearly 80, have had both hips replaced and now my left knee has finally given way. My consultant recommended total knee replacement, and a second opinion confirmed that this was the only option. I am however, a keen gardener, grow plants from seeds and at present am able to kneel to plant out. I am very reluctant to have to say goodbye to my garden but I understand that if not impossible then kneeling would be difficult after a TKR. I am not on regular medication, though self-dose when I expect to be particularly active. I am still in full-time secretarial work. I am keen to explore the possibility of any other therapy that may help me to keep me gardening.
Judith, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire (Spring 2012)

A) A remarkable story! Not many people at 80 work full-time and manage to keep up their gardening. And you are right – kneeling may become difficult after a knee replacement, although with time this should be possible. If you can continue as you are, this would be the best plan, at least for now. Can you cope with regular painkillers, and have you tried using one of the new non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or capsaicin creams that you can rub on your knee? If you can control your symptoms better this way then maybe you can postpone matters until you retire!

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Spring 2012 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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