Pain and swelling after total knee replacement : LUSENET : About Joints : One Thread

How much pain and swelling is normal after total knee replacement ? I had the op 15 days ago and have difficulty doing the exercises especially bending the knee, mainly due to pain and swelling. I take Tylenol 3 an hour before exercising, and I apply ice every 3 or so hours during the day.

-- Margaret Marriott (, March 11, 2001


I had my total knee replacement 6 mos. ago and I am still having some swelling and a little pain. However the pain is not in the knee itself but with the nerves down the outside of the knee. I just finished with 2 more weeks of therpy. They gave me some electrical treatments. So far it is working. As for the swelling, my doctor says that the swelling is normal. The more you walk and do other weight bearing exercises, you are going to swell. I am a bicyclist and that seems to really do better for me. Hope you heal really fast and hang in there. It is really worth it...

-- Nancy Whiteley (, August 18, 2001.

Dec 26/01 is when I had my knee replacement. It is now 16 months later & still problems with swelling. All sorts of bone scans & tests were done & no answer or solutions at this time . Scheduled for another opinion with third specialist. Needless to state that I'm not happy with results.

-- Louis Czarnota (, July 23, 2003.

Margaret, Pain and swelling are very natural after a TKR. Yours was only 15 days ago, and that is not a very long time. It is imperative to keep those exercises going to help build up the weakened muscles, to stretch the tendons and ligaments, and to help dissipate the fluid in the tissues which is causing the swelling. My therapists and doctor also recommended an ice pack several times a day applied to the knee.

For me, the swelling took several months to go back down to what I considered a more 'normal' looking knee. The pain takes a much longer time to go away completely. If I remember correctly, it was at least eight months before I hardly noticed my new knee anymore. What bothered me was a curious stiffness that I felt in it, or a heaviness/tightness that sometimes still presents to this day. My TKR was three years ago and I am going in for my left one in about a month. I love my new knee and it is serving me very well. It took a tremendous amount of hard work to get it back to a more fluid motion state, and lots of pain along the way! But, it was truly worth it.

Good luck to you!!

Marie Shanahan, Founder/Director of the ON/AVN Support Group Int'l; and, Director, NONF

-- Marie Shanahan (, July 25, 2003.

My replacement 3 yrs ago was followed a year later by removal of scar tissue. Now it feels like it same thing again. Pain has worsened. I wonder if one who is prone to adhesions will continue to grow them? Exercise doesn't break them down.

-- Dick Weller (, August 09, 2003.

Scar tissue formation can be a problem in a few patients. Scar tissue will mature and shrink over time. If it does not, it can be surgically removed. However, removing it causes new scar tissue to form. There is not an easy solution.

-- Marc Hungerford, M.D. (, August 11, 2003.

I had my tkr on Dec. 10th 2003. I am having a lot of trouble in therapy doing the bending excercises. The knee still feels very tight and swollen. It was good to know others have had the same problems. I guess just hanging in there and pushing the therapy is the answer. I am applying ice 8 to 10 times daily,elevating,and walking as much as possible.I don't sleep well at night. I wake up after two to three hours with pain then can't get comfortable again.I am looking forward to the day when I can say it was all worth it.

-- Anne Thompson (, January 09, 2004.

Had my replacements Nov. 8Th and thrree days later I got an infection in the right one. After two more hospital stays and the cutting open of the incision things looked better. I was able to obtain good range and things looked good. Suddenly it started to hurt during exerise. Then one morning I woke up and it was swollen like a ballon. It seems to have gotten better after 3 days, but it still is stiff. Has anybody gone through this?

-- Harry Swieca (, February 08, 2004.

had tkr jan 8/04 it is feb 20/04 know have some swelling and alittle pain in the night have been walking on my own since feb 14 ijust wonder which is better for swelling ice or heat

-- don bischke (, February 20, 2004.

I had my total knee replacement back in 96, and to this day, I have swelling and pain,severe most of the time. I am currently on oxycotin, 5 per day. Sometime the pain is so bad that even that doesn't do anything. They have had me on every pain killer around, nothing has done the trick yet. Anyone out there who can help me at all? Thank You, Eddie Gibbs

-- Eddie Gibbs (, March 30, 2004.

I had my TKR June 2001. Swelled for one year but not much pain. Then swelling decreased but pain increased. Went on cellibrex and did some good. Switched to Bextra (also cox 2) and it was much better. Hip and back pain is now controlled. I go off once every 6 months to see if I still need it. The pain comes back every time.. I have one problem. After sitting with my leg bent at 90 degrees, I can't straighten it without helping it with my other leg. It kind of pops as I straighten it. Hank

-- Hank Snella (, May 21, 2004.

I have had both knees replaced 13 months ago. Both legs are still swollen and I have a lot of pain. The pain is a burning sensation and my doctor does not wish to schedule an appointment to check it out. How do i go about finding another orthopedic surgeon?

-- betty wolin (, May 31, 2004.

From reading the previous postings I would say that TKR is not a perfected proceedure. I had a TKR on 5/14/04 by a surgeon that does several TKRs every week. I have therapy with most of his patients where it is clear that swelling can be very persistent for months. Most of us don't have the pain that existed previous to the TKR.

What irratated me is that noone told me about all possible problems that can occur after the operation. While I was warned about possible infections, I wasn't told that it can be very difficult to cure the infections. Many more operations may be necessary. Noone mentioned that swelling can be a very persistent problem and that pain may persist.

All of my pain is gone, but swelling persist (6 weeks following the operation). I cannot completely straighten my leg, which bothers my surgeon a lot. He wants to put me on a machine that will use force to straighten my leg. Needless to say I'm opposed to the use of force. It is clear to me that TKR is not without problems and should only be a last resort solution.

I noticed that there are a few MDs who are experimenting with growing new cartilage and implanting the new cartilage. I understand that this operation requires a longer recovery time, but can be completed using ortho-scopic surgery techniques. For some reason this proceedure is only used on young folks. This proceedure has to be a big improvement over TKR.

-- Bill King (, May 31, 2004.

this is more of a question: I am 48 years old and had a total knee replacement in 2002. I had no problems until this past winter. I had an xray a few weeks ago and at that time the person taking the xray said i had calcium around my knee cap. If i don't take pain medication my knee will hurt. My doctor said everything was fine with my knee, to see the doctor that replaced the knee. Can someone help tell me what calium around the knee cap is and how to get it corrected.

-- harold deppe (, June 13, 2004.

i had sugery 3yrs ago and am having a lot of problems with my left knee, after the 1st sugery i got a dtaf inf. it took 8 sugerys to get it right. now its 3 yrs,latter,and i am having alot of numness and swelling alot of pain. i just got bit by a brown recuse spider, and got a staf infection again. and sense i really have had alot of problems with my left knee mostly. it has given out on me several times. please tell me what you think.

-- constance payne (, September 19, 2004.

Bill wrote: "I noticed that there are a few MDs who are experimenting with growing new cartilage and implanting the new cartilage. I understand that this operation requires a longer recovery time, but can be completed using ortho-scopic surgery techniques. For some reason this proceedure is only used on young folks. This proceedure has to be a big improvement over TKR. "

My understanding is that this can only be used on patients that still have quite a bit of cartilage. I was a candidate a number of years ago before my TKR. And then when I wanted to try it tests showed that not enough cartilage existed in my knee to do this. Again my understanding is that it can only be used to replace small amounts of missing cartilage - I assume it needs something to hook onto in there?

Take care,


-- Gerry (, September 26, 2004.

I had knee replacement two years ago . I was in car accident. Ater two years my knee started swelling, from an overuse injury. Now it swells a little each day and its been three months. I wish I had an answer they tell me its normal to swell after activity..I wonder whats normal or not .Please e mail me if you can help me at all.

-- Susan Kahon (, October 28, 2004.

i have had both knees replaced my left one had a problem with adhesion my surgion done manipulation to it and it has been ok since then however my right one i had done 14 weeks ago also had manipulation a week ago i am still having trouble walking i get a lot of pain up the back of my leg and the leg goes weak

-- terry tween (, February 26, 2005.

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