What Are the Symptoms of a Failing Knee Replacement?

Knee replacement bandage
Someone has had a knee replacement. (Image: Jodi Jacobson/iStock/Getty Images)

Knee replacement surgery can be a life-enhancing procedure for those who suffer from chronic, disabling end-stage arthritis. Quality of life can be improved immensely, and return to near-normal function and to activities of daily living are major goals of this type of surgery. Infection, implant loosening and knee cap dislocation can cause your knee replacement to fail. See your surgeon if you experience symptoms of a failing knee replacement.

Pain

When prosthetic components begin to fail, issues such as fracture of the plastic spacer located between the metallic thigh bone and shin bone implants can occur from abnormal wear patterns or improper surgical techniques. Plastic fracture fragments can dislodge and become stuck between these surfaces, causing pain and mobility problems. Pain can begin as a mild soreness, or it can be severe if the fracture of the plastic occurs suddenly.

Swelling

Swelling occurs as a result of inflammation of the lining of the knee, which in turn stimulates production of fluid. This is the body's response to irritation, causing swelling in your knee. This irritation is frequently caused by the presence of microscopic pieces of plastic in the knee fluid, as well as the instability caused by loosening of the joint.

Instability

Instability in the knee often feels like the knee wants to give out with standing or walking. This is frequently caused by excessive wear of the plastic spacer, causing it to be thinner than it was at the time of surgery. Ligaments become loosened, making your knee joint less stable.

Warmth

In addition to the swelling that can occur, another symptom of a failing prosthesis can include noticeable warmth of the joint. Replaced knees can exhibit warmth in the joint for months after surgery, but this effect steadily decreases over time. The warmth associated with prosthetic failure can often be significant and associated with a level of redness of the skin caused by inflammation.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.