It’s been six months since I had my knee replacement surgery so I thought I would catch you up a bit.

I get a lot of questions about how it is doing. Many of those questions are from people who are considering knee replacement themselves.

Let me just say this: If you think you need a knee replacement, you probably do. I’ll tell you what I have heard patients tell me hundreds of times: “I wish I had done this a long time ago.”

Let me explain my situation. Prior to knee replacement, I had three surgeries on my right knee, dating back to when I was a teenager. All were successful and I continued an active lifestyle, playing basketball until I was 59. Really.

Even in recent years, my knee didn’t hurt much. Oh, I took more than my share of ibuprofen and only when I went without anti-inflammatories did I get an inkling of what was going on in my knee.

It’s been a long time since I could run. That was OK. I could still ride a bike without any problem whatsoever. And I could hike. For years, my wife I have taken an annual fall hiking trip, visiting some really great places. Not in 2019. I knew that my knee wouldn’t hold up to it.

About the only time I had to run was on the football field to check an injured player. In recent years, that got harder and harder and I got slower and slower. It finally got to where I didn’t even try and run. This past fall, I heard an official tell an injured athlete “Joe’s coming” as I walked as fast as I could onto the field.

I rehabbed hard and tried to force my knee to allow me to run, thinking that maybe I wasn’t tough enough. I knew it was bad but I didn’t know how bad. Then I saw my own x-ray.

What a mess! It is no exaggeration to say that my own x-ray was about the worst I had ever seen. But I knew that I had to get through the football season so I limped along. Literally.

There were days when the pain was pretty bad — days when I wanted to find an orthopedist and an operating room and fix it right then. But I got through it and on the first Wednesday after the state championship game, I was admitted for surgery.

Jump ahead to today. My knee feels great. It’s a little stiff but that’s because of the extensive damage to my knee and the fact that I waited about 10 years too long to have it fixed.

I’m biking hard. I climbed Lookout Mountain on consecutive days recently. I’ve been mountain biking a bunch, even wrecking (without injury) a couple of times. I’m ready to start hiking again. Thank you Dr. Justin Jones for taking a mess and giving me a good knee.

My best advice? If your knee is changing your lifestyle, if there are things that you can’t do that you want to do because of your knee, get it replaced.

Like I said, I wish I had done it a long time ago.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email to write to him.

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