Total knee replacement (TKR) is a common operation. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, about 581,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States, as of 2009. Even after TKR, knee pain can occur.
You may need TKR to treat pain and restore function caused by arthritis in or injury to your knee joint. Knee replacement surgery is a last resort, used when medications, walking supports and changing your activity level no longer help to relieve pain.
If you experience knee pain after knee replacement surgery, common causes are infection in the knee joint or instability following surgery, impingement when soft tissues are pinched in the prosthesis, or incorrect indication for surgery in the first place.
Your pain may come from outside the knee joint, but you may feel it in the knee joint area. This type of pain, known as referral pain, typically originates from the hip--arthritis--or from the lower spine--spinal stenosis or a herniated disc.
Some experts believe there are additional reasons for knee pain after knee replacement surgery. According to the Internet Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, such pain may be related to friction in the patellofemoral joint--a joint made up of the knee cap and thigh bone.
One type of post-surgery knee pain is extremely uncommon but may lead to wasting of the leg and disability if not treated early. Symptoms include pain out of proportion to the apparent problem, skin blotching such as blue mottling, feeling hot or cold, skin sensitivity, skin thinning and dryness, knee swollen on the outside and knee stiffness.
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