Pain After Knee Replacement – Why Do So Many People Experience It?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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pain after knee replacement

The main reason you might make the drastic decision to undergo a knee replacement is to relieve your chronic knee pain, but did you know that many patients still have chronic pain after knee replacement surgery? Maybe you believe that a knee replacement is your only option. You’ve tried everything else, and now you just want to eliminate your pain once and for all. But is that a sure thing? Not even close.

The truth is, we’ve shared many studies over the years that show you shouldn’t count on a knee replacement to relieve your knee pain, and now there’s yet another study to add to the mounting list.

New Study Shows High Incidence of Chronic Knee Replacement Pain

A recent study looked at the percentage of patients with chronic knee pain after knee replacement at a minimum of one year following surgery in 272 patients. A questionnaire was sent to them at between 12 and 16 months following their surgery. Of the 272 patients who responded, 107 patients (nearly 40%) reported that they still had persistent pain at one-plus year following surgery. The median average pain rating (using the 0-10 numeric pain scale) was 3 out of 10, with pain reported as high as 5 out of 10!

5 Out of 10…That’s an Improvement, Right? Not Really!

While you might think 5 out of 10, which is moderate pain, would be an improvement in knee pain after knee replacement, it isn’t that much different from the pain level most patients would describe prior to undergoing the knee replacement. Some studies have shown pain rates and percentages following knee replacements even higher at two, three, or four years following surgery, which seems to imply a trend toward pain worsening as time goes on, not getting better.

Even if your pain is 6, 7, 8 or more, do you really want to have your knee amputated for a possible 3, 4, or 5 pain rating? Or in the case of younger, more active patients, a whopping 15% of knee replacements are only lasting five years! Five years! Wouldn’t you expect to get at least as many years out of your knee replacement as you’d get out of your Chevy?

Additional Studies on Knee Pain After Knee Replacement

While this most recent study we highlighted shows nearly 40% of patients still having chronic knee pain after knee replacement, there are other studies reporting higher percentages.

This French study looked at almost 2,000 knee replacement patients one year after their surgery. They used a nationalized health care system to track the new use of over-the-counter pain medicine, nerve-pain drugs, and narcotics. While we would expect to see very little new use of pain medications in this group of patients, a very surprising 47% of patients began taking new analgesic medications (like Tylenol and Motrin) during the year after their surgery! About 9% needed new nerve drugs and about 6% new narcotic drugs. Younger knee replacement patients and those with more pain before the surgery needed more drugs.

This study looked at more than 1,700 patients who had knee replacement. The focus was to determine how many would still have pain coming from the front of the knee joint. The researchers found that at five-plus years later, 20% had pain in the front of the knee. However, a stunning 54% of patients still had knee pain with only 46% being pain free. Also interesting was that 87% of patients had their knee pain develop after the surgery and within the first five years. In addition, knee pain in the front was more common among younger and more active patients.

This study reported 44% of patients with chronic knee pain after knee replacement and a remarkable 15% with “severe-extreme persistent pain.” Another study reported 53% with chronic pain after knee replacement.

Your Knee Might Not Be the Cause of Your Knee Pain

The frightening thing is that your knee may not be the actual cause of your knee pain at all. Multiple things in the spine and around the knee can cause knee pain. For example, the upper low back nerves, the sacroiliac joint, the muscles, and the tendons can all cause knee pain. Why is this important? Well, why would you want to have a knee replacement if the knee isn’t the true cause of your pain? Perhaps this is the reason the pain doesn’t subside after surgery in such a high percentage of patients.

How is it possible that an arthritic knee isn’t the cause of knee pain? Many studies have shown that knee arthritis doesn’t necessarily cause pain. For example, many patients with arthritis on X ray and MRI have no knee pain!

A recent study decided to use the ultimate test in patients with knee pain to see if they actually had painful knee joints. They injected numbing medicine inside the knee joint to see if the knee pain went away. The results? About one-third of patients didn’t get any relief! Since it’s common for a knee replacement decision to be made with just a cursory exam and an X ray, if one-third of the patients with the most common form of arthritis don’t have pain coming from the joint, how many patients are getting unnecessary knee replacements?

The upshot? While different studies may theorize a variety of reasons for chronic pain after knee replacement, the fact is, studies show that knee pain remains in a very high percentage of patients. With 40% or more of patients still experiencing pain a year following total knee replacement (and pain percentages increasing even more over time), it is clear that chronic knee replacement pain is very common.

While it is possible you could be in the pain-free percentage, is it worth a knee amputation to find out? Especially when there are alternative options, such as stem cell injections, that may be able to relieve your pain without cutting out your knee? And even if a surgeon could guarantee that you would be pain-free following surgery, which he or she cannot, why go through a drastic, invasive knee replacement when there may be a nonsurgical solution?

Can a stem cell procedure help me? To find out if you might be a candidate for a Regenexx stem cell procedure, complete our Regenexx Procedure Candidate Form online.

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88 thoughts on “Pain After Knee Replacement – Why Do So Many People Experience It?

  1. Jo

    I had a TKN over 2 years ago and I continue to have pain and discomfort in that knee. I also have bursitis in it. And the numbness has never resolved.
    I was supposed to the left one replaced a year later. But, no way Jose!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jo,
      Wish we could say that is an usual story. Very wise decision…take care of that knee! Try all conservative and less invasive treatments like your own platelets and stem cells. It’s also crucial to establish your knee as the actual problem, and not the symptom of another problem.

  2. Marianne

    I have had a lot of complications, knee pain is the least of them. Infection has been the worst, taking over 3 years to get over. And I still has crutches.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Marianne,
      So sorry to hear that. Infection is one of the complications that tends to be downplayed, but is very real. It’s a risk that exists even in strong young athletes, and even with the best of surgeons: http://www.regenexx.com/blog/knee-surgery-is-a-risk-even-with-the-best-surgeons/

  3. mrs.Jackie Bardwell

    I am in the same boat as these who have made comments about their knees,and their knee operations.. ? I am progressively getting. a little worse with borh my knees… I fell off a friends front porch December 16,2015 and I had a broken arm …and meanwhile my other arm was justkibd of recovering from a complete tear in my rotatorcuff and torn long muscle,so, Ive had a horrific time with my health issues along with the pain and stiffness of arthritis in my knees.. I am going through reflexology for my torn rotatorcuff ..I am getting better SLOWLY ,and my other arm was just kept in a sling for about 4 weeks.and I had a couple weeks of therepy for the broken arm.. anyhow, it seems like my kbees have even gotten stiffer and hurt more ( if this is possible) and I was thinking of stem cell. and platelet. replacement.. someone from regenwxx called me and told me if there was no cartlege on the knee you cant have stem cell cause it wobt work..?..the question is ” how do you know if you have or dont have any cartledge?”i really really want this and DO NOT WANT ANY KIND OF KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY..For alot of reasons..

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jackie,
      Mary, it’s easy to establish the state of your knee cartilage with an MRI. Have you filled out the Regenexx Candidate Form? http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ A Candidacy phone call with one of our physicians or an exam by one of our physicians are the only ways to establish Candidacy. Who did you speak to, and did you make the call, or did they?

  4. Loreena

    I have a torn meniscus and have had it all my life. I was standing on the stairs recently and I turned and it hurt very badly on both sides and behind my knee. I had a MRI last week and they said I needed to see a surgeon, so I am going tomorrow to see him to see what he recommends, but I don’t want surgery. I am sure that is what he will say. I am wearing a wrap knee brace because my knee feels a little unstable. Although if I walk slow and sure I can walk without it, but I feel more comfortable walking when I am wearing the brace. I am going to tell him I am thinking about having stem cell or blood platelet injection if I can afford it and if I am a candidate for the procedure. Otherwise I will be living in this knee wrap until I can’t stand the pain, which is minimal so far, as long as I am wearing the brace.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Loreena,
      I’m sure that’s what he’ll say as well! In order for us to see if we can help, please fill out the Candidate form on this page and follow the instructions to upload your MRI: http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ That will set up a phone call with one of our physicians who will take a history, read your MRI and discuss Candidacy…and be careful on that knee!

  5. Mary

    I planned to have cultivated stem cell injections in a hip and knee last summer 2015, however, while obtaining MRI imaging for the procedure, it was discovered that I had enlarged lymph nodes in each groin. After a lymph node biopsy followed by CT, PET and a bone marrow biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage 2 CLL/SLL. Earlier MRI imaging taken in 2006 showed that my lymph nodes were enlarged 9 years earlier but I was never informed of this. I contacted Regenexx asking whether the diagnosis precluded me from having stem cell injections but never heard back. I underwent a right hip replacement recently and am scheduled for a left knee replacement next week. If I could have PRP into the facets of my lower back – L3, 4 and 5, in the future…please let me know if I am a candidate for that procedure. I filled out the Regenexx Procedure Candidate form in 2015.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mary,
      I’ve sent you an email…

  6. Pentti Raaste

    You are quite right in one thing: Very often the knee pain is caused by the muscles and tendons around the joint.
    the best thing is to anaesthesize those painfull tissues. It is diagnostic and also a part of a treatment. (tggerpoint release techniques/ myofascial pain treatment.)

    1. dale wohlford

      Both my knees were replaced in 1996 and I have not had pain until recently and maybe the info I am finding here could be the problem…..like low back problems….that I have had for years.

      My doc recently told me to use an ointment pain killer to help relieve the problem, it does help.
      my pain is mostly at night

      1. Regenexx Team Post author

        Dale,
        It could be, and your back could be ruled out as the source of pain pretty simply with an injection procedure. But 21 years out from a knee replacement, issues with the prostheses themselves should be considered. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/find-a-physician/

  7. alice moore

    so if you have bone on bone in your knees there is no hope for stem cell?

  8. Mary Pearce

    I had Right knee Replaced Jul 2013, which is doing great and looks great. Had the Left one Replaced May 2015. This knee hurt constantly day and night. My family physician schedule me an appointment at Duke, in Durham, N C. The Dr. said I needed a hip replacement to ease the pain in the knee. At that time I could not walk without a cane. May 2016, I had my left hip replaced. The right knee still hurts, particular when I walk plenty. It does not match the other knee either. Had MRI’s X-ray’s and found nothings other than some activity it stated more in the Left knee than the right. The Dr. that did the RKR retired and recommended a Dr. for the LKR. If nothing is wrong should it still be hurting and sometimes swelling in the knee and leg.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mary,
      So sorry, that’s an awful lot to go through! To give a medical opinion about your case in particular, we’d need to examine you. There are a few general directions to consider. The most common complication of knee replacement is chronic pain, but there are all kinds of complications that can result from knee replacements from metal toxicity to the wrong size prosthesis to tissue damage. Another important issue is that we’ve seen patients who have had either a knee or hip replaced where the joint replacement did not resolve their pain because the pain was coming from their low back rather than either joint. An exam by a physician who is not an orthopedic surgeon, who can do a complete medical and biomechanical exam would likely be a good direction. Hoping the best for you going forward! http://www.regenexx.com/what-are-knee-replacement-risks/ and http://www.regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/ Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/find-a-physician/

  9. Marian Brock

    I had a TKR in my left knee just over 2 years ago. I have been having progressivley more pain. Sharp pain, especially when standing up. It feels like I have broken the miniscus that was installed. Lately I have been having a lot of cramping within my knee. I don’t know where to turn to get this pain to stop.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Marian,
      Unfortunately, the most common complication to knee replacement is chronic pain. But since this is escalating, it would be important to get an MRI of the knee to rule out things like the prostheis loosening,or other structural problems from the surgery. If all that checks out, a thorough exam including your back would be needed to see what’s going on.

  10. Mavis Harris

    I am bone on bone and have bone spurs in my knees. My sister has had a knee replacement in both knees and said she no longer has pain. I need to lose 15 pounds before they will do it. My left knee is the worst. I have been getting anywhere two to three hours of sleep for about 2 weeks now. I have swollen feet and ankles for 7 weeks now, they stay swollen. If I’m on my feet for more than a few minutes I start hurting really bad. When I go to bed at night, within 30 minutes to a hour I have to get up with excruciating pain. Once I’m up I will get better, but when I go to bed I’m up again with the pain. Is it my knee? Or could it be a blood clot or sciatic nerve? Since I’m bone on bone and have bone spurs I tend to think it is my knee Help.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mavis,
      Sorry to hear you are in such pain! Many of our knee patients are bone on bone, but unfortunately, there is no way we can help you figure out what is causing your current symptoms without an exam. PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR TO RULE OUT ANY ACUTE MEDICAL ISSUES. Once you’re medically cleared, if you’d like to see if a Regenexx procedure would help in your case, please submit the Candidate form: http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/

  11. Debbie

    I had a knee replacement 10 years ago , because I was bone on bone! Every since have my knee replaced I have had a Manipulation , surgery to remove scare tissue . Fast forward about four years still in a lot of pain with swelling , I ended up having a revision because something came loose ! Still a lot of pain and swelling , Four months after my revision I had to have a hip replacement all on the same side because my knee still had a lot of pain . So here we are 2017 my Dr retired and my new dr told me that the implants where in wrong ! Had another knee replacement in 2016 ! Still in a lot of pain and still very swollen in fact haven’t been working because it swells so bad when I stand or walk!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Debbie,
      So sorry to hear that! It is stories like yours which make the point that joint replacement should always be the last option after all other less invasive treatments have been tried first, after tests to determine that the joint is actually the source of pain, and after it has been established that there are not reasons that a patient would not be a good candidate for joint replacement. Unfortunately, in many cases, these things are not being done. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/

  12. FRANK HARBISON

    I HAD A TOTAL LEFT KNEE REPLACED TWO MONTHS AFTER THAT I WAS JUST STANDING AND I HEARD A LOUD CRACK IN THAT LEG AND I STARTED TO FEEL MY BODY SLIDING DOWN THAT SAME LEG AND I COULD FEEL A BONE COMING UP ON THE INSIDE THE FIRST THING THAT WENT THROUGH MY MIND WAS THAT SOMETHING LET GO IN THE TKR. MY FEMUR HAD BROKE RIGHT ABOVE THE TKR. THEY COULD NOT PUT A ROD THRU THE FEMUR BONE SO THE HAD TO SCREW METAL PLATES UP THE SIDE OF THE BROKEN FEMUR. THE DR SAID THE BONE WAS HEALTHY MEAN WHILE I STILL HAVE SWELLING AND PAIN IN THE KNEE THAT WAS REPLACED. IT HAS BEEN ALMOST NINE MONTHS AFTER THE TKR. HAS ANYONE ELSE HEARD OF THIS THAT MAY HELP ME TO IUNDERSTAND WHY I AM STILL HAVING PAIN IN THAT KNEE AND HAS ANYONE HEARD OF A FEMUR BREAKING TWO MONTHS AFTER A TKR. HOPING FOR SOME ADVICE.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Frank,
      So sorry to hear about that! Know, though, that you are not alone as it happens in approximately 4% of the 700,000 knee replacements currently performed a year and given what is involved in a TKR it is easy to see how that could happen. One of the biggest concerns with knee replacement is the impression that patients are given that this is a “new knee”, rather than the reality which is that their knee joint is amputated and a metal and plastic prosthesis is inserted with all of the issues that come with that type of surgery. Some things important to rule out would be infection, wear debris which can cause inflammation, a metal ion issue and the wrong size the prosthesis. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/wear-debris-in-joint-replacement-and-genetic-problems/

  13. Nico Hodgson

    I had a TKR 10 years ago. My knee has never been able to bend properly, and I suffer from swelling and pain all the time. Nothing seems to help so it seems I am stuck with not being able to walk freely forever.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Nico,
      So sorry to hear that. It is, unfortunately not uncommon. The expectated Range of Motion after a knee replacement is 105-110 degrees. Did you ever reach that through physical therapy after your surgery?

  14. Nikramal

    Iam aged 29. Noticed a sharp pain couple of months ago(from inside the knee) while climbing up and down the stairs. Checked squating positions below 90 degree and noticed the same issue. Consulted orthopedic surgeon and prescribed NSAIDS as there was no significant changes went for MRI and Xray.
    MRI observations are below
    Linear oblique PD hyperintense signal is noted involving posterior horn of the medial meniscus with no definite extensn post margins suggest of grade 2 signal changes. Mild synovial inflamtry changes are seen along posteromedial margin of posterior horn of medial meniscus. Anterior nd posterior horns of lateral Meniscus appear normal. Others: intermediate T2 W/PD signal is noted involving predominant the posterior two third of patellar attachment of patellar tendon suggestive of likely tendinopathy. Mild knee effusion is noted in suprapatelar recess and intr condylr notch.
    Please advise on
    My doctor says that pain can be managed by doing PT and knee strengthening exercise. Undergone PT about 5 sessions and relatively pain was there only while going up and down stairs after PT knee feels like unstable and lateral moves also created pain. Knee strengthening exercises reduced those problems and currently my left knee not functioning like my right. My doctor completely pointing above issues are meniscus tear not tendenoitis., when i can bring back my left knee same as functioning like my right. How long i can live without the threat of osteoarthritis. Iam not an athlete and i dont remember any twisting activity done on those days. I am doing repetetive activities on my routine job for past 5 years and now iam concerned about that whether
    this will pull me back from doing my job and i cant serve my family hereafter.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Nikramal,

      Always best to start with most conservative treatment which you have. If after a full course of physical therapy enough improvement hasn’t been made, you likely need to the help of your own platelets or stem cells. Please see: https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ The things to avoid are NSAIDs https://regenexx.com/blog/can-nsaids-make-arthritis-worse/ , and steroid or cortisone shots https://regenexx.com/blog/steroid-injections-kill-cartilage-lets-make-long-acting-steroid-shot/ and surgery, as it would likely negatively impact your knee going forward. If you would like to speak to one of our Physicians about your case and your MRI results, please submit the Candidate form.

  15. James Fuller

    I am 78 and had both knees replaced at once 12 years ago. While I have been able to walk without pain since the knees healed I have had 12 years of nighttime pain since. I don’t understand why since there is nothing in the joint except titanium and HDPVC. As I sit here in my recliner writing this I am in pain. I walk three miles a day without problems but often wake at night from pain. I wish that there was something for relief except for drugs. Hydrocodone worked but when I realized that I had developed a dependence I decided to stop using it. I didn’t have much problem with withdrawal, but I would not use it again.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      James,
      Sincere congratulations on realizing and doing something about the opioid issue as things like Hydrocodone are often prescribed without understanding the unintended consequences. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/opioids-and-knee-replacement-pain/ Many knee problems actually originate in the low back, which is unfortunately not something Orthopedic surgeons generally look into before the decision to proceed with knee replacement. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-and-back-pain-and-sleep-problems/ If you’d like us to weigh in on your case in particular, please submit the Candidate form.

  16. Bradley Davis

    I had partial knee replacement 9 months ago still can’t get on my knee or bend it all the way back it pops Burns and hurts really bad I’m 36 and the Dr that did it says I’m fine

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Bradley,
      Just curious… How did he establish that you’re fine?

      1. Paula Burden

        I had a second TKR in 2015 after my first TKR came apart.
        I’ve had complete pain from the beginning. My pain is escalating and nothing helps. It’s 2018 now.
        The doctor has told me that I am allergic to the glue they used and the pain will never go away. Have you ever heard of that before?
        He had me go to a doctor that numbed the nerves. That didn’t help either. !!
        I need to know what to do. Any suggestion of what can be wrong or who to contact.
        Please help.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Paula,
          Have you been tested for metal toxicity?

  17. Dolores Singh

    1 year ago I had knee replacement and can’t seems to go up stairs nor coming down. Knee is stiff and swollen. Tired of taking pain killers but I found olfen ointment helps with the pain.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Dolores,
      While chronic knee pain after knee replacement is the most common complication to the surgery, please see the Doctor that performed the knee replacement to see rule out important medical issues.

  18. Karen Ryan

    Hello
    I had a TKR on my right knee in December of 2010. I kept going back to my orthopedic surgeon because of pain, inability to get a good degree of Ben, very warm to touch and continued swelling. The more I stood or walked the worse it got. After 2 years of chronic pain my surgeon did a dye test and it showed the joint had come loose. Had it replaced in November 2012. Immediately felt relief an had a rod above/ below the knee for stability. Was good for 6 months the pain and swelling. It has got increasingly worse. Dr said inflamed scar tissue and took of fluid. Said he would not touch again. I have tried a nerve oblationto no avail. Severe pain and swelling. Some days can hardly walk or put weight on it. There has to be an answer or relief somewhere some how. I was 50 when first TKR… I’m too young and have too much life to live but would really like to be pain free. I take doluxetine, diclofenex and gabapentin. Flexeril as well. Nothing touches it!! Please help!!
    Karen

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Karen,
      The biggest thing I think of that can both cause protheses loosening and continued pain is allergy to one of the metal components of the TKA device. See https://regenexx.com/blog/more-problems-with-knee-and-hip-replacements-allergy-testing-now-advised/

  19. Michelle Cox

    I had a TKR in Nov 2012. I have had severe pain since day 1. It’s been over 5 years and my pain is debilitating more often than not. At the 1 year mark I told my Dr I still had a tremendous amount of pain along with swelling and my knee is hot all the time. His reply was it can take up to 2 yrs to heal completely. It never did heal. I lost my health insurance a year and a half after my replacement and my Dr wouldn’t see me because I didn’t have insurance anymore. 5 1/2 years later I still have the same pain and it’s progressively getting worse. I am stuck with a knee that hurts more now than before I had it replaced and no one will help me because I have no insurance. I work on my feet only 4 hours a day because the pain is so bad. I don’t sleep at night. I wake up every hour, sometimes less than an hour because my knee is in so much pain that I have to flip over or prop my knee up or whatever I have to do to try and sleep. I was able to find a clinic for people with no insurance and thwy sent me for an MRI last week. The results said I had fluid behind my knee and a Baker’s cyst with at least stage III chondromalacia. I can assure you that the knee pain I have has nothing to do with my chronic knee pain as this pain has been form day 1 and this fluid cyst thing is probably a more recent development due to being on my feet working with my TKR. Unfortunately in my situation as it is, the clinic has no Ortho Dr to send me to. Any suggestions? Any research studies i can go to? Will your procedure help me?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Michelle,
      So sorry to hear about your issues since your TKR, unfortunately complications are very common, especially when 1/3 of the tkr’s done in America are done without medical indication without the knee being confirmed as the source of the pain. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/low-back-and-knee-pain/ Baker’s cysts can occur or recur after a tkr and we do treat baker’s cysts non surgically. A good place to look for clinical studies is clinical studies.gov. Treating the chondromalacia of a natural kneecap to withstand the ongoing assault of metal and plastic is likely a losing battle.

  20. Paul Bradbury

    I had a PKR (patella/femoral) Mako Robotic Surgery in August 2016 on my right knee due to arthritis and my Dr told me my pain would go away when my quad muscle came back. Here I am almost two years after surgery and my pain continues every day sometimes excruciating. I am 61 and stay active walking, biking and swimming and would think my quad is back to normal but I suffer every day. Also, the pain seems to continue up to my lower back, would an MRI reveal any muscle issues? Any suggestions to make my quality of life better?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Paul,

      We’d need to examine you. Where are you located?

  21. Marty Richardson

    I was at age 59, attacked by an invisible elf with a pirate hook in October of 2016. The pain was from what I have been told short of giving birth, but holy crap that hurt. Dealing with OWCP it took 70 days to get an MRI which showed a a torn patella whatchamacallit, 4 days later I had a scope to repair said damage. My highly regarded surgeon told me “Hope I bought you a couple years, that is pretty bad”. 30 days later I returned to work as a mailman with no pain, no meds, no worries. I was one happy camper. That was a Monday, Wednesday I called the Doctor begging to get me in. The pain had reached way past what I could deal with. My choice was replacement. In Feb 2017 my TKR was sawed, glued and hammered by master craftsmen tools from Sears, by the way the doctors were awesome too.
    Yes it took a shitload of time to get to even close to normal. For goodness sakes this a replacement not a bionic knee. Do I know it’s there everyday, You betcha. Would I trade my TKR for anything else NO WAY, not even a better golf swing!
    Having a pretty deep medical background I knew the risks and rewards walking in the door. I felt my choice was a roulette table with me having all the numbers but 37. Some of you will get that.
    I have already been told my other one is in the same shape, but until that invisible elf shows up I will avoid it…I’m a firm believer in what GOD gave me is probably at 50% better than what tech can give me.
    My advice hold out, but not so long where it impedes on your life. Then grab the bull, work your ass off.
    Best of Luck to all of you reading this drivel

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Marty,
      Glad to hear you’re doing well! For future reference, while your orthopedic surgeon could not, we can treat 70% of tendon tears without surgery.

  22. Vrinda

    Hi. I had knee replacement of both knees 4 yrs back . Knees are ok. But have muscle pain .recently I noticed stairs are becoming very difficult.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Vrinda,
      Sorry to hear that. Wish we could say that is unusual, but unfortunately, it is not. It may be a good idea to get a thorough low back exam. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/low-back-and-knee-pain/

  23. susan

    I had knee replaced 2years ago still in a lot of pain can’t walk far i had dry needling in my tendons which have not healed and now the doctor wants me to have them in my ligament

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi susan,
      Very sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, chronic pain after knee replacement is the most common complication in knee replacement patients. We’d need to examine you to determine what’s going on to advise whether there is anything that can be done to help. We have a Regenexx Clinic in the UK that could do that. Please see: https://www.algocells.com/?utm_source=regenexxreferral&utm_medium=webreferral&utm_campaign=regenexxlocations

  24. Deb

    11/18 total right knee. Today my knee is still swollen and blood test was taken for infection.. negative! WHY am I still swollen, I have two different legs it’s horrible looking. I feel like they put in a replacement that is to big for my leg. Is that possible?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Deb,
      It can happen as was covered in this 2011 Blog: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-and-a-long-leg/ However, there are many other things that can cause swelling issues in knee replacement: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/hypersensitivity-knee-replacement-may-mean-pain-surgery/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacements-not-performed-younger-patients/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/what-are-knee-replacement-risks/ Search for “knee replacement on the website, and you will find many more. http://www.regenexx.com

  25. Mickey

    I developed nerve damage after my TKR. I wish I would of did more research on stem cells and platelet therapy. For when and if I need the other knee replacement I won’t do it. I’ll have the stem cells/platelet done. I had my TKR after thanksgiving and it hurts worse now than before.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Mickey,
      Really sorry to hear that, and wish we could say it was rare. The biggest complication to knee replacement is chronic pain. Other than the surgery and the device used, there are predictors of what issues make knee replacement less successful: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/dont-count-knee-replacement-improve-pain-function/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-outcomes-back-pain/ We’re here, when if if you need treatment on the other knee! http://www.regenexx.com 855 622 7838.

  26. Sam Rocks

    My dad had TKR done on both knees at different times. The first one got infected and the second was not. I learned more about this topic afterward. There are stages of infection and the time it surfaces can determine the cause. Sometimes the implant has something on it that wasn’t cleaned properly, they consider it a known risk so don’t get blame. The other issue is there is no way to clean an implant of infection once it’s installed in the body, it must be removed and antibiotic pellets are placed in the knee area after it’s cleaned and you stay bedridden for a month or more until it’s certain the infection is gone. It’s entirely insane to take such risks just because of knee pain or bone on bone issues. The risk of getting one of these things is just a joke. Loose weight, take yoga, but don’t bother with this crap. Even worse you are told how great it is but the fact there’s no other way to clear a knee of infection other than removing it is the stupidist thing ever in medicine. They’re working on methods to overcome infections without removing a knee but can’t right now and it’s 2019!

    So anyways the other factor is once a knee replacement is tested revisions done don’t need to undergo the same scrutiny as long as they’re of the same base model, so who knows what model you have or will get!

    The medical term for an infection starting is RACE TO SURFACE where it begins to colonize the implant and contaminate it further. Good luck everyone!

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Sam,
      Very sorry to hear all your Dad has gone through! And that’s just one of the possible bad outcomes. In the not too distant future we will look back at these surgeries as barbaric…

  27. Tye

    September 2013 L knee TKR. Bone grooved in bone. After initial post surgery was at 1 year, I was good. However I started noticing more pain in 2016 in that knee. October 2017, same as L knee. TKR. Now both knees are plastic, yet if I stand on a hard surface for any amount of time ie: walking in a mall, walking on a sidewalk, I feel as though both replaced knees have pressure along with increased pain. The longer I stand or walk, the more the pain. Both knees also have a loud grinding sound when bent then straightened. Like large pieces of sand is under my knee caps. So far my orthopedic doctor tells me basically it’s just happens with some people. First I have a good doctor that really cares and has compassion..He is a friend yet being friends doesn’t mean my pain is getting better. Q; WHAT IS THE BEST THING I CAN DO TO SEE IF THERE IS ANY KIND OF TREATMENT, PROCEDURE, TEST OT BASICALLY “ANYTHING ELSE THAT I CAN DO? Please please help if you know a high probability of a answer. God Bless.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Tye,
      Unfortunately, the most common complication of knee replacement is chronic pain. To advise and see what’s going on in any particular case would require an exam. We’d recommend Dr. Kellum in Nashville, as while he is a Regenexx Physician, he is also an orthopedic surgeon. https://nashvilleregenerative.com/

  28. Eula Bailey

    I read all the comments and now I,m not sure if I want to go with that. I have had horrible pain for the last 4 months. Taken all kind of painkillers, steroids and such. It hurts to ride in a car, use bathroom, get up from chairs .my doctor said it was coming from my back. I cannot do MRI because I have a pacemaker. I had a lumbar ct scan on my back which is no fun where dye was injected into my spinal area. After that, doctor said they could not see what was causing the pain.The pain was locked into my inner thigh,down my leg,locked in my calf to my toes. After all this I received another cortisone shot in my knee which has relieved most of my pain. He said it may last a short while but I may have to get a knee replacement.
    Myleno or whatever type of procedure is rarely mentioned by anyone receiving a replacement. Without an MRI, would it be by chance the type of replacement is done?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Eula,
      It’s very important to get to the bottom of your back issue as low back issues, even asymptomatic ones, can negatively affect the outcome of knee replacement. Without an MRI, only an extensive exam can determine if your back is causative in your knee pain. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-outcomes-back-pain/ To set up that type of exam, please submit the candidate form here: http://www.regenexx.com, or give us a call at 855 622 7838.

  29. Becky Foster

    I had pkr then 2 months later had it opened up due to allergic reaction to the derma glue. A month later the pain continued but my surgeon said everything was fine. Saw a new surgeon, found out the hardware had shifted and he thought I possibly was allergic to the metal. He opened it up and cleaned it out, put new hardware in. Month later after continued pain,I had a tkr with titanium. That was 4 surgeries in 10 months. It has been almost a year since last surgery and my knee is worse than ever. I now have no insurance so I am dealing with this horrible pain each day. My PCP thinks it is scar tissue causing the pain but I feel I’m allergic to the implant. But without insurance I’m just dealing with it dailym

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Becky,
      So very sorry to hear of your situation. Because knee replacement is irreversible, whether partial or total, there are questions every patient should ask and have answers to, before proceeding. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/

  30. Youssef

    I had a Very bad experience with starting menisectomies (2) then a uni which ended by TKR since 4 years followed by lavage and débridement due to continuous swelling and redness followed by resurfacing of the patella and axis alignment since one year but pain and stiffness had not been solved .So as much as anybody can STAY without surgeries ……

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Youssef,
      Very sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, these issues are more common than patients are informed about. For future reference this Blog covers the questions patients need to ask before knee replacement: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/

  31. Martha. Lockett

    Had total knee surgery 15 months ago still having pains in their knees and in the hip part cannot rest night of pain in my hip and leg

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Martha,
      Wish we could say that was unusual, but unfortunately, based on the research and what we see in Clinic, it’s not. It would likely be a good idea to contact the Doctor who did the surgery to make sure everything is in proper alignment. Your back, which should always be thoroughly checked before a knee replacement, can negatively affect the results of knee replacement, as well as cause ongoing symptoms. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/unnecessary-knee-replacements/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-outcomes-back-pain/

  32. Arnold Martin

    I have had total knee replacement on January 9, 2017.. The pain never left.. Do you think that stem cell therapy would help or something else?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Arnie,
      Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do for the knee as after a knee replacement there is no longer a biological knee joint, however, the joint that was replaced is sometimes not the source of the pain. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/hip-replacement-pain/

  33. Mel B

    To date i have had a total of 29 knee surgeries, yes, 29. Both my knees have been totally replaced, the pain level on a good day is around an 8, usually a 9 verging on, worse! I do not ever get any relief except taking meds to take the sharp edge of the pain off. Tried the pain clinic route, didn’t take any pain killers for 18 months. Pain clinic gave me injections to stimulate the nerves, a lot of injections, what it did was make my knees swell and got blood on my pants. Oh and meditation, there is a great method to reduce pain, think happy thoughts and don’t move! Worked like a dream, until you had to move. Who can meditate 24 hours a day? I am 73 yrs old and have been going through this most of my life, doesn’t seem to be any solution for people in my situation.

  34. Diann Anderson

    I had a right knee revision 18mons ago. Ten months later I developed serious pain directly in the middle if such. Now it clicks and hurts when I have to bend it. I’m not able to pur pressure on it when trying to stand. I definitely can not walk far without psin.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Diann,
      Please contact your surgeon for an exam, as unfortunately, since there is no longer a biological knee joint there is nothing we can do to help.

  35. Christine Adams

    I had a tkr in Dec 2018 and did remarkably well! Never used a walker or cane and pain was manageable. After 3 months barely even noticed the knee except for stairs but still thought every thing was going wonderfully. I have had some warmth to the touch the entire time but nothing to bad. Then after six months had intense pain in knee cap. No other symptoms. What’s going on?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Christine,
      There could be several different things going on, all of which need to be checked out by the Orthopedic Surgeon that did the TKR.

  36. LUZ DELEON RIVERA

    HI I HAD A FULL KNEE REPLACEMENT DONE 7 YRS AGO. I NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS EXCEPT FOR THE REGULAR DISCOMFORT FROM THE SURGERY THEN I WAS FINE . I ALWAYS DID EXERCISE AND LOTS OF WALKING AND WORKED ON MY FEET ALL DAY AND I WAS FINE. NOW LATELY AFTER EXERCISING I HAVE LOTS OF PAIN UP AND DOWN MY LEG MY KNEE ESPECIALLY ON MY THIGH. MY KNEE CAP FEELS FUNNY AND HEAVY. IS THIS SOMETHING THAT CAN HAPPEN WITH TIME . I AM A OLDER NOW TOO.

  37. Melissa raisler

    I had a tkr two years ago after having 7 surgeries ranging from having my knee cap moved over to stem cell injections the tkr made my 8th surgery just to have two manipulations ten surgeries total on right knee I have never been out of pain an just recently when I put to much weight on it it hurts so bad an feels like my implant is coming out the side

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Melissa,
      So sorry to hear about all you’ve gone through! Unfortunately, knee replacements are irreversible because the knee joint has been amputated and a prosthesis inserted, but things like losening, and other issues can occur and revision surgery can be needed. The irreversibleness of knee replacement, and the risks and potential for complications including chronic pain, is why we suggest trying all less invasive options first. These are some questions to get answers to before pulling the trigger on knee replacement: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/ What was the initial problem with your knee?

  38. Winfred Gudgel

    I had a knee replacement with the va two years ago the doctor said they didn’t put enough glue or whatever they use in the lower post of the knee.ans I have had pain now for two years.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Winfred,
      Loosening is one of the risks of knee replacement, and unfortunately, one of the most common causes of TKR failure. What is their plan to confirm that is the problem, and address it?

  39. Gale Soto

    What about when a doctor replaces the knee twice knowing theres an infection in the bone near the knee and it keeps getting worse. The doctor said he will have to remove the replacement and leave it out till the infection gone?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Gale,
      Thankfully, we’ve been able to help a great many patients avoid knee replacement. People tend to think of knee replacement like replacing a part in their car, but it is a huge surgery with many risks and complications which can include death, blood clots behind the knee or in the lungs, infection of the joint, a heart attack, a serious stroke, and more pain than you had before the surgery. A second opinion may be a good idea. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-questions/

  40. dottie tipton

    why is the muscle on the back side of my new knee replacement and down my calf hurt

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi dottie,
      Healing after a TKR takes a long time and there is a great deal of rehab and Physical Therapy required. If it continues beyond that, given the nature of knee replacement surgery and the potential for complications, reporting this to your surgeon would likely be a good idea. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/dont-count-knee-replacement-improve-pain-function/

  41. annalopes

    Thank you for all the information. But my knee pain seems to come and go (not all the way). I am still going to my dr. and now since a fall I have sprained my knee, so I’m having more therapy. I have good movement, and walk kind of funny but still pain. I really want to get rid of pain and don’t know where to go or what to do, there must be a dr. that would help with this, a pain dr. its very deabiliting and stressful.,
    thank you Anna L.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi annalopes,
      The issue is determining what’s causing the pain. While chronic pain after knee replacement is common, there may be something else going on. Any of the Regenexx providers here in the US would be able to do the type of exam needed. Unfortunately, we don’t know of anyone up your way to recommend.

  42. Rick Smith

    I have a partial knee replacement on the right knee…bad pain every since. Regret the partial and have heard, it’s a full or nothing. Not sure I buy that either. Left knee is worse…but I had more pain on the right. Not wanting any more replacements for sure.

  43. Maria A Bucka

    I had knee replacement surgery which has been considered a success. But my pain is excruciating weeks after the surgery and worse than before the surgery

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Maria,
      Unfortunately, chronic pain is the most common complication to knee replacement, but there are many more. It would be important to report this to your surgeon so that important medical issues can be ruled out.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

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.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Shoulder

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Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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  • And more
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Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
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  • And more
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Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
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  • Other conditions that cause pain
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Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
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  • And more
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Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
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Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
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