3 Things You Need To Watch For As You Recover From Your Knee Replacement

Experts estimate that more than 4.5 million Americans are living with a total knee replacement today. With so many people on the receiving end of this surgery, the complications associated with knee replacement surgery are becoming more widely known. While you might be aware that your range of motion may be limited and that a blood clot could occur, there are some less common side effects you should know about.

Here are three things you should know to help prepare you for life after knee replacement.

1. You may experience permanent numbness around the incision site

Replacing the knee joint is no small task, and doctors must create a large incision in order to access the joint during surgery. The nerves in your skin are so small that it is impossible for a surgeon to avoid cutting them during your knee replacement.

Since nerves do not have the ability to heal themselves, you might suffer permanent nerve damage in the area surrounding your incision site. This nerve damage results in permanent numbness, which many patients adjust to over time.

2. Ongoing swelling of your knee after a knee replacement could be cause for concern.

While most patients worry about infection in the weeks following a knee replacement, a condition known as arthrofibrosis can be just as damaging. Arthrofibrosis, which can result in a permanent inability to fully straighten your knee, is characterized by stiffness and heat in the area surrounding the replaced joint.

Some heat and swelling is to be expected after surgery, but if you find that your knee is still feeling hot 2-3 weeks after surgery, contact a doctor like Joseph P. Spott, DO to work out a treatment plan that will prevent arthrofibrosis from affecting you in the future.

3. You could develop a condition that causes ongoing chronic pain.

Some patients who undergo a knee replacement experience a phenomenon known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Often stemming from the tissue injury associated with knee replacement, CRPS can cause a painful response to even the most gently stimuli.

If you notice your knee becoming more tender to the touch, abnormal swelling, or experience a sudden decrease in your range of motion it's important to recognize that these could be symptoms of CRPS. Tell your doctor right away if you suspect CRPS, since early treatment is your best option for preventing permanent damage.

A knee replacement can give you a new lease on life, but only if you do everything in your power to hear properly after surgery. Learning to recognize some potential complications will allow you to keep a close eye on your knee replacement as you learn to navigate life with a new joint.