For a majority of people, a knee replacement can alleviate chronic knee problems, such as persistent pain and limited function. A relief from symptoms allows a return to a normal, active lifestyle. However, in some cases, patients may go on to experience prolonged knee pain following surgery. Find out more about knee replacement pain and what you can do to treat it.
When Is Joint Replacement Surgery Necessary?
A joint disorder can cause pain, stiffness, and a loss of function and mobility in the knee joint. Over time, this can become increasingly disabling, preventing a person from carrying out even simple day-to-day activities. Joint damage can result from a number of factors, including aging, wear and tear, injuries, and conditions such as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that causes the protective cartilage that lines the joints to wear away gradually. It can result in pain, stiffness, and inflammation, and often affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.
Nonsurgical treatment methods such as medication, cortisone injections, physical therapy, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, can help relieve pain associated with joint disorders, but if they no longer provide symptom relief, joint replacement surgery may be recommended.
Joint replacement surgery involves replacing all or part of a joint with prosthetic components. They are designed to replicate a natural, healthy joint as much as possible, allowing normal activities to be resumed once fully healed. With advances in technology and surgical techniques, it now means joint replacement procedures are becoming more popular and successful than in previous years, with a faster recovery and less risk of complications.
Knee Replacement Pain
In order to make a successful recovery following a knee replacement, rehabilitation is required. This includes physical therapy, exercises to do at home to strengthen your knee, attending follow-up appointments, and avoiding strenuous activities that may damage the new knee or prevent healing. Returning to normal activities and lifestyle too soon may result in damage to the prosthetic joint and may require further surgery.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery can take several months, and it is not unusual to experience inflammation, soreness, and pain following surgery during the healing process. Some pain may also be experienced as rehabilitation progresses, which can put strain on muscles and other tissues near the joint that have not been used for a while, and may require re-training.
Knee replacement is a highly successful type of orthopedic procedure with more than a 90% success rate once rehabilitation has been completed. However, in around 10% of cases, patients may experience ongoing pain after the procedure, beyond the initial healing period. Persistent knee pain that is experienced after completing rehabilitation will require further investigation, and appropriate treatment will depend on the cause of the pain. The most common causes of pain after a knee replacement include:
Loosening of the Implant
Loosening of the implant from the underlying bone can cause significant pain. Factors such as high-impact activities, excessive body weight, and general wear-and-tear of the plastic spacer between the two metal components of the implant can cause the implant to become loose. It may also be caused by a condition called osteolysis, which causes the bone around the implant to deteriorate, making the implant loose or unstable. Revision surgery is often necessary to treat this condition, which involves removing and replacing some or all of the original artificial parts.
Infection is a potentially serious complication and may occur following any type of surgical procedure. If an artificial joint becomes infected, it may cause pain and stiffness, and the implant may begin to lose its attachment to the bone. Other signs of infection may include a fever, swelling, and redness. Sometimes, signs of infection are less obvious and may result in persistent discomfort. Infection may occur soon after surgery or after you go home, but it may even occur years later. Antibiotics, an antibiotic spacer, or further surgery may be necessary to treat a joint replacement infection.
If ligaments in the knee become damaged or improperly balanced, it may result in knee instability and prevent the implant from working properly. Signs of instability may include recurrent swelling and a sensation that the knee is about to give way. Knee instability may be treated non-surgically with bracing and physical therapy, but in severe cases, revision surgery may be required.
Knee replacement surgical techniques and materials continue to advance, reducing the chances of alignment problems when fitting the implant. However, scar tissue formation during the healing process, or a misaligned implant can lead to problems such as pain or reduced function. Further surgery may be necessary to correct alignment problems.
Other problems that can cause persistent knee replacement pain can include pinched nerves, bursitis, and complex regional pain syndrome, but these are less common.
Knee Replacement Pain Relief in Boynton Beach, FL
If you are experiencing knee pain following knee replacement, contact Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches. Our post-op knee pain specialists offer high quality, personalized care using a range of cutting-edge non-surgical and surgical treatments to effectively treat pain.