Knee Replacement Allergies? If You’re Allergic to Four or More Things You’re Likely to Have More Pain

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Is it possible have knee replacement allergies?

The past few years we have seen numerous studies discuss that the components of knee replacement prostheses can cause allergies. In fact, one study concluded that being allergic to certain types of jewelry was a good indicator of whether a surgeon should be concerned about a metal allergy. Now a new study says that simply being an “allergic person” is tied to having more pain after a knee replacement, presumably because of an allergy to the replacement device.

The idea that patients could be allergic to the metal or other components in a knee or hip replacement began a few years back. These patients are more likely to have loosening of the prosthesis because the bone is unable to bond and integrate into the device. In addition, they’re also more likely to have chronic pain after the procedure, due to the chronic inflammation caused by the device, which is perceived as a “foreign” by the body.

I’ve taken care of some of these patients and they’re miserable. They have just as much or more pain as before the knee replacement surgery and they’re looking at a second major surgery with more risk than the first procedure. And it’s not only the metal they can be allergic to, as one recent patient was declared by an allergy expert to be allergic to the cement used to bond the device to her bone! As a result, any research that can help identify these patients before they get a huge joint replacement surgery is welcomed.

The new research looked at 459 patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery who completed preoperative and postoperative functional questionnaires. Their medical history and allergies were also recorded. Patients who reported 4 or more allergies had significantly less functional improvement due to the knee replacement surgery.

The upshot? Metal allergies have been a known issue and cause of poor results from a total knee replacement surgery. However, it seems that just being an “allergic person” is also a risk factor. What do you do if you have allergies and knee arthritis? Consider some of the newer autologous biologic options to treat your knee arthritis and forego the surgery!

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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