Knee Replacement Pain: The Week Following Surgery
You should expect to stay in the hospital for several days following knee replacement surgery. This is often considered the most painful stage of the recovery process. Your doctor will prescribe medications to help you manage your pain level.
In addition to icing your knee, you may be encouraged to move your foot and ankle to increase blood flow and lower the risk of swelling and blood clots. Your doctor may also use blood thinners, support hose, and compression boots to prevent further complications.
Generally the day after surgery, a physical therapist will show you exercises that will help you recover your range of motion and continue to heal. You may even be asked to get up and take a few steps . Patients who get up and put a safe amount of weight on their new knee typically experience a quicker recovery.
After leaving the hospital, most patients continue to take some form of pain medication for two to six weeks. Your doctor will determine the best method of pain relief for your specific needs, whether it is over-the-counter medications or something stronger.
What Happens After Knee Arthroplasty
After surgery, you will get moved to a recovery room. The healthcare team will watch you for a short time to make sure you wake up from the anesthesia without complications. Theyll also monitor your vital signs and pain level.
Occasionally, people who have knee replacement surgery go home the same day. If you need to stay in the hospital, it will likely be for one day. Additional time spent in the hospital is based on medical necessity.
Your Pain Prevents You From Doing Normal Activities Or Caring For Yourself
If you cant get relief from other treatments, your knee pain may start interfering with your daily life.
In general, the timing of a total knee replacement is determined by the impact the knee is having on your quality of life, says Jay Lieberman, MD, chief of orthopaedic surgery at Keck Medicine and chair and professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School. If conservative treatments are not working and you have significant pain while walking, you may be a good candidate for surgery.
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The Patient Problems After Knee Replacement Surgery Are Many At Caring Medical We Can Address Many Of These Problems We Cannot Address All Especially When The Problem Of Knee Replacement Is Caused By Hardware Failure And Hardware Placement Failure
- PROBLEM: The knee replacement hardware is wearing out and loosening or it was not placed in the knee correctly and stress is causing the device problems. This problem will need surgical consultation and possibly revision surgery.
- PROBLEM: Infection. This is during the initial recovery period. On prosthetic devices, bacteria can form and colonize. This problem will need a consultation with the surgical group and possibly emergency medicine.
- PROBLEM: The implant or the surgery caused fractures in the thigh or shin bone. This problem will need a consultation with the surgical group and possibly emergency medicine.
- PROBLEM: Knee prosthesis instability and loss of range of motion , this can also lead to considerable pain.
Knee Replacement Pain After Three Months
Swelling and bruising can continue for three months or more following knee replacement surgery. However, it varies from patient to patient and depends on the condition you were in before surgery. Many patients are back to their activities without the pain they had before surgery by this stage of recovery.
If you find that any movement or activity is still exceedingly painful after three months, you may be experiencing chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain persisting for three months or longer. Its a condition that affects roughly 20% of knee replacement surgery patients. It can develop and increase in intensity in the weeks and months following surgery. This can have a huge impact on your overall quality of life. Talk to your doctor for help.
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Can Rehabilitation Be Done At Home
All patients are given a set of home exercises to do between supervised physical therapy sessions and the home exercises make up an important part of the recovery process. However, supervised therapy–which is best done in an outpatient physical therapy studio–is extremely helpful and those patients who are able to attend outpatient therapy are encouraged to do so.
For patients who are unable to attend outpatient physical therapy, home physical therapy is arranged.
Previous Ligament Reconstruction Surgery Higher Risk For Complications After Knee Replacement
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have published findings in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research which they suggest that patients who had previous multi-ligament reconstruction surgery were at high risk for:
- knee replacement complications,
- constrained knee replacement designs ,
- and a higher risk of major complications, including reoperation and infection.
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Possible Complications Of Surgery
The complication rate following total knee replacement is low. Serious complications, such as a knee joint infection, occur in fewer than 2% of patients. Major medical complications such as heart attack or stroke occur even less frequently. Chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur, they can prolong or limit full recovery.
Discuss your concerns thoroughly with your orthopaedic surgeon prior to surgery.
Infection. Infection may occur in the wound or deep around the prosthesis. It may happen within days or weeks of your surgery. It may even occur years later. Minor infections in the wound area are generally treated with antibiotics. Major or deep infections may require more surgery and removal of the prosthesis. Any infection in your body can spread to your joint replacement.
Blood clots. Blood clots in the leg veins are one of the most common complications of knee replacement surgery. These clots can be life-threatening if they break free and travel to your lungs. Your orthopaedic surgeon will outline a prevention program, which may include periodic elevation of your legs, lower leg exercises to increase circulation, support stockings, and medication to thin your blood.
Blood clots may form in one of the deep veins of the body. While blood clots can occur in any deep vein, they most commonly form in the veins of the pelvis, calf, or thigh.
What Happens If I Begin To Experience Knee Pain
Reporting the side effects and symptoms to a physician is the first step for a patient who is having problems with their existing knee implant. The surgeon will then take several different steps to evaluate the pain. The first of these involves discussing how the pain is affecting your life.
Startup pain usually is resolved within a couple of months, but common diagnostic signs of more serious issues include the sudden appearance of pain, difficulty when navigating stairs, and persistent start up pain. Any severe symptoms that limit the patients ability to live their life normally should be reported to a doctor immediately to rule out a more serious diagnosis, such as total failure of the device.
In many cases involving problems with the initial knee implant, the doctor will recommend that the patient go through revision total knee replacement surgery. This involves the doctor taking out some or all of the original parts and replacing them with new ones. Revision surgery is a different procedure than primary total knee replacement. It is more complex and longer procedure and requires extensive advance planning
Knee replacement failure has led to numerous lawsuits being filed against the makers of the devices, including the Arthrex iBalance. If you or someone you know has experienced problems with the Arthrex iBalance Knee, you could have grounds to pursue compensation by filing a lawsuit.
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Possible Benefits Of Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Regardless of whether a traditional total knee replacement or a minimally-invasive partial knee replacement is performed the goals and possible benefits are the same: relief of pain and restoration of function.
The large majority of total knee replacement patients experience substantial or complete relief of pain once they have recovered from the procedure. The large majority walk without a limp and most dont require a cane, even if they used one before the surgery. It is quite likely that you know someone with a knee replacement who walks so well that you dont know he even had surgery!
Frequently the stiffness from arthritis is also relieved by the surgery. Very often the distance one can walk will improve as well because of diminished pain and stiffness. The enjoyment of reasonable recreational activities such as golf, dancing, traveling, and swimming almost always improves following total knee replacement.
Lack Of Evidence About The Effectiveness Of Prediction And Management Strategies For Chronic Postsurgical Pain After Total Knee Replacement
The same doctors also wrote in the British Medical Journal that the problem of post-surgical pain in knee replacement patients had reached a point of significance and that researchers should prioritize their studies to help people with pain. They wrote:
- Our highlights a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of prediction and management strategies for chronic postsurgical pain after total knee replacement. As a large number of people are affected by chronic pain after total knee replacement, development of an evidence base about care for these patients should be a research priority. We are going to return to this study below.
There is a significant problem. The main part of this problem is identifying what is causing people to have pain after knee replacement.
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Will Your Bones Even Allow For A Revision Knee Replacement
An August 2019 study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research offered this warning to surgeons concerning the problems of identifying whether a patients bones were strong and dense enough to withstand another knee replacement procedure.
Revision total knee arthroplasty is a demanding procedure, with a high complication and failure rate and a high rate of bone losses and poor bone quality. Different classifications for bone losses have been proposed, but they do not consider bone quality, which may affect implant fixation.
Look at the study findings:
- Fifty-one patients were included .
- The most frequent cause of failure was:
- aseptic loosening of the implant .
- 18.9% of the cases demonstrated poor bone quality.
What the researchers of this study were seeking to point out is that if revision knee replacement is required, a plan to address and repair the possibility of bone loss, bone weakening, a loss of bone density should be undertaken. This would significantly increase the success of the replacement.
What Can Cause Knee Pain Years After A Knee Replacement
Knee replacements dont last forever. Most knee replacements perform well and cause no issues to patients for 10 to 20 years after the operation. When pain occurs years after knee replacement, its typically due to one of these four knee replacement problems after 10 years or more.
- Soft tissue irritation around the knee The most common pain patients experience that occurs years after a knee replacement will be the soft tissue around the knee. Patients still have multiple tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the knee that may become irritated with varying activities.
- The implant becomes loose A loosening implant is a cause of pain that can occur years after knee replacement surgery. A loosening implant is typically caused by wear and tear over time, though it can be exacerbated by high-impact sports or obesity. A loosening implant can cause pain as well as instability in the knee and a change in the alignment of the knee joint.
- Infection The infection rate after knee surgery is very low, around 1 percent. If an infection does set in around the components of the knee replacement, it can be difficult to treat with antibiotics. Revision surgery may be necessary to get the infection under control.
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Recognizing The Signs Of A Blood Clot
Follow your orthopaedic surgeon’s instructions carefully to reduce the risk of blood clots developing during the first several weeks of your recovery. He or she may recommend that you continue taking the blood thinning medication you started in the hospital. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following warning signs.
Warning signs of blood clots. The warning signs of possible blood clots in your leg include:
- Increasing pain in your calf
- Tenderness or redness above or below your knee
- New or increasing swelling in your calf, ankle, and foot
Warning signs of pulmonary embolism. The warning signs that a blood clot has traveled to your lung include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden onset of chest pain
- Localized chest pain with coughing
Plan For Your Surgery: Before And After
Make sure to plan for the fact that you are having surgery.
- Designate a close friend or family member as your Patient Champion
- As a patient champion, this person will be responsible to help you throughout the process of your surgery. Your patient champion will have the following responsibilities:
- Attend your Pre-Op appointment with you.
- Bring you to the facility on the day of surgery.
- Drive you home and help you into your residence.
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Why Do You Get Pain After Knee Surgery
If you have undergone major surgery on your knee, it is normal to expect some pain, swelling and inflammation around the site of the wound after the procedure. There can be pain from bruising, caused by applying a tourniquet during the operation, which may last a few months. Pain also occurs due to the incision, and the healing tissues and internal scar tissue formation also adds to this.
Knee Replacement Complications In Former Athletes
In a recent paper, doctors from NYU Langone Medical Center, Hospital for Joint Diseases suggest that total knee arthroplasty is often the best answer for end-stage, post-traumatic osteoarthritis after intra-articular and periarticular osteoarthritic fractures the knee.
However, total knee replacement in the setting of post-traumatic osteoarthritis is often considered more technically demanding surgery and the surgical outcomes are typically worse for these patients. The goal of the NYU paper was to create a new classification label for post-traumatic osteoarthritis patients and improve medical documentation and improve patient care.
- The researchers looked at post-traumatic osteoarthritis patients who suffered from osteoarthritis as a result of high demand or athletic activity. These were on average were younger and healthier than the primary total knee replacement population .
- The healthier post-traumatic total knee replacement group had the following complications:
- higher rates of superficial surgical site infections,
- bleeding requiring transfusion,
- increased length of hospital stay,
- and 30-day hospital readmission.
In a similar study, doctors at Duke University also recognized that Total Knee Arthroplasty as an important treatment for post-traumatic arthritis. However, these researchers also found complications that should not be expected in a mostly healthy patient population.
- knee wound complications
- need for revision surgery.
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What Are The Signs Of Knee Replacement Failure
The most common symptoms of a failed knee implant are pain, decrease in joint function, knee instability, and swelling or stiffness in the knee joint.
Persistent pain and swelling can indicate loosening, wear or infection, and the location of the pain can be all over the knee or in one particular area . A decline in knee function may result in a limp, stiffness or instability. Patients who demonstrate these symptoms and signs may require revision joint surgery.
Why Is My Knee Replacement Clicking And Popping
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You Have Bad Arthritis
Most people who undergo a knee replacement have either osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that causes joint pain and damage or post-injury arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis affect the knee through different mechanisms, however, these different conditions are similar in that they all result in loss of cartilage, which causes pain and loss of motion, says Nathanael Heckmann, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and an assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. When these symptoms become severe, knee replacement surgery may provide considerable symptom relief by replacing the worn-out surfaces of the knee.
Expected Range Of Motion
After knee replacement surgery, it is important to work with a physical therapist to achieve the maximal range of motion. Typically, the range of motion will progress quickly during the first three months and can continue to increase for up to two years following surgery.
Normal motion after knee replacement is defined as the ability to get within 5 degrees of a straight knee and the ability to bend the knee back to 90 degrees. Most knee replacements have movement ranging from 0 degrees to 110 degrees or more.
The optimal motion of the replaced knee can be achieved with a combination of stretches, exercises, and gradual resumption of normal activities. Some surgeons will recommend the use of a machine to bend the knee, called a CPM, .
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