If you have a failed or loosened knee replacement, wouldn’t it be fantastic if this could be fixed without surgery — a conservative treatment that can resolve this problem?
To go through another invasive surgery, in which the failed parts are removed and a whole new artificial joint is put in its place, is just too daunting to even think about for many patients.
Knee replacement revision surgery involves replacing some or all of the prosthesis, and this doesn’t paint a pretty picture for patients who face once again going under the knife and having general anesthesia for the three hour operation.
And then there’s another several months of rehabilitation to go through all over again.
Bad News for Those with a Failed Knee Replacement
“If a patient with a loosening knee replacement absolutely cannot have surgery due to multiple medical problems, the only thing that may provide some modest degree of relief will be some type of brace and activity modification, i.e., limited walking,” says Jeffrey A. Geller, MD, Associate Chief, Division of Hip & Knee Reconstruction; Director, Minimally Invasive Hip & Knee Replacements, Columbia University Medical Center, NY, NY.
Dr. Geller explains that the brace requires a prescription. “It is usually fitted and dispensed by a brace specialist, called an orthotist.”
The brace, of course, will not repair a loosened knee replacement hardware. It may only take the edge off of the pain.
What about pain pills?
Pain medications can be limited in their ability to obstruct the pain, as well as be troublesome if the patient experiences unpleasant side effects. Dr. Geller adds that nerve or pain blocks are temporary and not effective.
About 20,000 or so knee replacement revisions are performed in the U.S. every year. And some end up loosened or failed — and sometimes the reason is not clear why.
Unfortunately there is no way other than surgical to fix this, and the revision surgery may result in yet another failed replacement.
Dr. Geller specializes in arthritic disorders of the hip and knee. He has extensive training in joint replacements and performs surgery using some of the latest, most advanced minimally invasive techniques.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.