What are the causes of pain post knee replacement surgery

Knee replacements although complexed, however, are the common surgical procedures with high success rates. A knee replacement is performed when the knee joint is worn. It could be due to sports activity, wear and tear arthritis, a sudden jolt, etc.

How is it performed? What is the success rate?

In this process, damaged cartilage is removed and the end of the bones are shaped where a metal implant is fitted with a plastic spacer to fill the space between the implants. This surgical procedure allows for a smooth and natural movement of a joint.

Approximately 90 percent of outcomes are positive once the surgical procedure and rehabilitation part is done.

However, the remaining 10 percent tends to have negative or painful results due to postoperative infection or bone fracture around the replacement. In most cases, the main reason is the consistent pain around the newly placed joint.

What are the causes of pain?

It is important to find the main cause of pain behind the persistent discomfort due to insertion of implant. Following are the reasons that fall under these circumstances:

 

  • Loosening of the implant: This kind of problem can generate ever after years or decades post replacement. Somehow, this cause is quite rare right after the surgery.

 

  • Kneecap Problems: This is a common cause of knee replacement pain that can occur post surgery. These kneecaps become a headache even with a normal activity such as standing up while sitting, walking down/up the stairs, etc. Hence, one should get operated from the skilled and best knee replacement surgeon in India.
  • Infection: Infection is a common but serious problem post surgery. It is directly proportional to the pain generated. The more you experience pain, the more you are prone to get infected. While it is obvious to get infected post-surgery, some infections become the cause of continuous discomfort.
  • Alignment Issues: While some people are more concerned about the implant brand, the surgeon are mainly focused on how it should be inserted. If the implant is poorly placed, it wouldn’t function properly and becomes painful instead.

Diagnosis

Your physician can only diagnose the exact cause of pain if you communicate with them properly. It is only you who can describe the exact type and location of pain to come to a conclusion. If you’re able to tell the exact location of the pain, then your physician may be able to detect the underlying cause. However, it could be due to implant loosening, kneecap problem, swelling, redness or fever.

Radiology Tests

A regular may not be able to show up the exact reason. Therefore, a bone scan, MRI or specialty imaging tests are done to find the root cause of pain. MRI is best suitable in case of soft tissue injuries or to detect if the infection is related to bursitis or tendonitis.

Lab Tests

Lab tests are quite successful in defining the presence of infection. Performing tests on the affected area are quite risky and sensitive for identifying the infected area. Therefore, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and a C-reactive protein (CRP) tests are used to detect the suspicion of infection.

Arthrocentesis is another procedure which is proven to be helpful. This involves the insertion of a needle into the joint to extract some fluid from around the implant. The fluid extracted also known as synovial fluid is then tested to discover the signs or cause of painful replacement.

According to a study, it is found that only 1-3% of knee replacement surgeries get infected and is the root cause of knee revision surgery.

Treatment

Once the tests are done and your physician has detected the main reason behind it. You will be treated accordingly. You may be given medications or physical therapy according to the degree of the pain else a revision knee replacement surgery is needed in case of loosening or alignment issues. Your surgeon gives the right guidance regarding what kind of treatment is suitable for you.

Final Thoughts

While the knee replacement surgeries have the highest success rate, there are some people who experience pain or worse post-surgery. This could be frustrating, but it is important to stay calm and seek a second opinion as there are chances that a revision replacement surgery would do no change.

About the Author Tarun Batra

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