Problems after knee replacement surgery are extremely rare. Here we will look at the general risks of any surgery, and the specific risks and long term problems that can be associated with partial knee replacements. If you have had a total knee replacement instead, visit the TKR problems/risks section instead.
Generally, people recover really well after knee replacement surgery. They are up out of bed walking around the next day and usually regain full range of movement and strength.
It may be painful for the first few days after a partial knee replacement, but people often find the knee pain is actually less severe than beforehand as they no longer have the arthritis pain.
There may be persistant numbness around the scar, which is due some of the small nerve fibres being disrupted during the surgery, but this is usually minor and often recovers with time.
With any surgery, there are risks but they are extremely rare. These include:
1) Bleeding: at the operation site
2) Blood Clots: which can break off and travel around the body occasionally causing a stroke or heart attack
3) Infection: usually at the site but the infection can spread around your body.
Risks for anaesthesia include breathing problems and reactions to the medications.
Your surgeon will discuss all of these with your prior to your surgery. If you have any questions, always ask your doctor until you are happy that you understand what exactly is involved.
Specific risks after knee replacement surgery are rare. Sometimes people find there is:
2) Pain kneeling: It can sometimes be uncomfortable to kneel after knee replacement surgery. You can make it more comfortable by kneeling on a pillow/cushion, or by wearing gel knee pads - especially good for gardening and housework
3) Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: this is very rare. It develops when there is a problem with your circulation and sensation which results in long term pain and swelling
Recovery tends to be quicker after a partial knee replacement than after a total knee replacement as the surgery is less extensive and more of the knee is preserved such as the ligaments. Long term problems after knee replacement are rare but include:
1) Wearing of the prosthesis: the joint implants can gradually wear over time. 92% of partial knee replacements last at least 20 years
2) Loosening of the prosthesis: the implant may become loose which can cause pain and limit mobility. If this occurs, you will probably need to have a total knee replacement
3) Infection in the knee joint: this can occur years after surgery
You will know if something is seriously wrong as the knee will become very painful, it may swell, and you may notice redness around the knee joint. Occasionally this may be accompanied by a fever. If this happens talk to your doctor immediately.
If you want to know more about what happens before, during and after knee replacement surgery, choose from the following links
Overview: Including who PKRs are suitable for and what is involved
Surgery: What actually happens during surgery
Recovery: Including how successful surgery is and returning to activities
Common Questions: Answers to the most frequently asked questions
Partial vs Total Knee Replacements: Compare the two to find out which surgery is right for you
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