Why does the knee still hurt?
February 26, 2008 2:39 PM   Subscribe

On average how long is there pain after knee replacement surgery? I had a partial done Dec. 12th and still have days that I have to take pain pills for the discomfort. Is this typical? Should I go back to the doctor?
posted by lag to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Not a doctor, but my dad had his hip replaced and I don't think he was really pain free for the better part of a year. I seem to recall the gentleman next to him suggesting that his knee replacement was expected to give him problems for about 3 months. Was your implant cemented in? Because if it wasn't I think the pain would last longer, and it could be that they might have to re-do it with cement if you continue struggling with it for a while.
posted by fusinski at 2:56 PM on February 26, 2008

Yes... I seem to recall that a year was about what it took for my ex's replacement to fully heal. Some days were better than others...but it took a year for things to really seem totally alright.
posted by answergrape at 3:26 PM on February 26, 2008

Mr Wilder is a pain therapist and says that knee tends to be more pain senstive than hips, even though it was a partial. Also, what kind of pain meds? OTC or perscribed?

He would expect a patient to experience some pain for 3 months, if it goes beyond 6, and shows no serious decline, other investigations are warranted.

This is always with the understanding that a pain therapist is assisting and he's not just downing whatever OTC pain meds he thinks might work.

Mefimail for more info as the first operating list tomorrow is a knee-replacement list and he'll discuss it with the surgeons.
posted by Wilder at 3:40 PM on February 26, 2008

I've had 4 knee surgeries. My last one was in January of 2006 and there are definitely still days that I have pain enough to take something for it. (Sorry, I know that's not what you want to hear.)

However, if you are concerned or if you feel like there might be something still wrong that is causing your pain, definitely go back and see a doc and maybe he can get some tests to determine whether you have some blockage or excessive scar tissue that he can take out.
posted by CAnneDC at 3:44 PM on February 26, 2008

I have daily pain and stiffness from 5 years ago. It's rock-solid, but it isn't pain-free.

posted by DarlingBri at 6:34 PM on February 26, 2008

z- What kind of pain is it? Arthritic, or incision pain, or tendon strain, or dull ache, etc. Figuring this out for yourself can help the surgeon determine where to check.

a- Talk to your surgeon. If s/he says the mechanics are fine, have them recommend a pain specialist.

q- Not all surgeons are equally talented. Some take more than one try to get these things right.

b- Are you doing all of the rehab as specified? My knowledge of the knee replacement game is that the more compliant the patient is with post op rehab, the more pain free the prognosis is. One of the things that happens is that scar tissue forms and makes the joint perpetually tight. But if you're constantly doing full range of motion, any scars that occur will be "looser" and not cause pain.

c- Two people I know who had these things done were good to go after 6 weeks. Maybe not 100% pain free, but certainly better than before the surgery. A third wasn't, and still isn't. Guess who was compliant and who wasn't?
posted by gjc at 7:28 PM on February 26, 2008

My dad (age 53) had a complete knee replacement almost exactly one year before yours, and he's just now feeling well. Pain was originally one of the worst parts of the surgery, because it hurt him so badly to get up and walk to get everything stretchy and strong again. That led to a vicious cycle of pain, because he wasn't rehabbing correctly, so he was in bed much longer than anticipated. He got pneumonia from sitting in the bed for so long, and then an infection in the incision in his knee. From the time of the infection on, he had serious muscle pain that got him sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN (one of the largest and most comprehensive health care facilities in the Midwest, as far as I know) and they finally figured out how to help him (I'm really not sure what they did, and that doesn't affect you..sorry) but now, about 14 months later he's feeling well and going for walks and riding a recumbent bike a few times a week. Just be glad you don't have to deal with the other crap, take your pain medicine, and do as much physical therapy as your doctors suggest. PT is the key to getting better in your situation.
posted by whiskey point at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2008

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