In spite of the advances made in therapeutic procedures, knee surgery complications are still observed during and after the surgery. Some of the complications are internal injury, pain, bleeding, swelling, inflammation, infection, and joint stiffness, among others.
A knee surgery is conducted as the last alternative for treating knee joint injuries and severe pain-related problems. Any type of invasive treatment is associated with medical complications. The same holds true for knee operations too. Hence, every prospective candidate should know about probable complications, before actually going through the procedure.
There are two common surgeries performed for treating knee conditions. The first is knee replacement surgery, which is an invasive technique for treating joint conditions. It involves making an 8 – 12 inch cut in the outer part of the knee and replacing the affected joint with an artificial joint made of plastic or metal. The artificial joint mimics the original knee joint in appearance and function. After surgery, the patient requires hospital stay for 3 – 5 days.
The second method, knee arthroscopy, is a non-invasive technique performed for both diagnosis and treatment of knee problems. In this method, an arthroscope (small tube-like medical instrument with a visual camera) is inserted in the knee joint to examine the internal structure. When therapeutic intervention is associated with diagnosis, it is called knee arthroscopy surgery. As far as post surgery complications are concerned, they are lesser and milder, when compared to traditional methods.
After the surgery, general pain is a usual symptom. The intensity of the pain will reduce gradually with time. However, in case of persistent pain (after 4 – 5 days of surgery), it is quite likely that there is an internal injury. In order to get relief from pain, the concerned surgeon will recommend pain medications.
Swelling, redness, and inflammatory responses are common complications observed after a knee surgery. These conditions slowly improve on their own, with time. The doctor will also suggest self-care instructions for reducing the inflammation. If required, anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for a specific period.
Complications may occur during the procedure, which are collectively known as intra-operative risks. Commonly reported problems include tear of the tendons, injury of the ligaments, and fracture of the bones in the knee area. Also, injury of the arteries and nerves are observed, in rare cases.
Bleeding (to some extent) is another common complication of a knee surgery. It may be because of injury to the veins in the incision area. Bleeding will be more for patients who have been administered with a blood thinning agent. Blood clotting in the veins (phlebitis) is seen in some patients, which should be addressed as soon as possible.
When there is blood clotting in localized areas of the operated knee, it is nothing but a hematoma. Hematomas can be identified from the skin color; the affected areas will appear blue on the first day, which will turn to light green and yellow afterward. If this persists for a long time, the doctor may consider therapeutic intervention.
Refer to any type of surgical procedure and you will find increased risk of infections as one of the complications. Disease causing bacteria and microorganisms may attack the wounds and injury sites, causing increased redness, fever, pus formation, and draining of fluids. If such signs are present at the incision sites, the patient should take immediate medical attention.
Another complication is stiffness of the joints. This after-effect exists in almost all types of joint related operations. Hence, patients are instructed to use supports for performing routine activities. In order to retain normal bending and movements of the knee joints, appropriate physical therapy exercises are recommended after the surgery.
Recovery time will vary from one patient to another, based on the severity of the problem, and how the surgical procedure is carried out. There are certain post-operative effects that cannot be avoided. However, getting the procedure done by an experienced surgeon is the key to minimize these complications, and also to ensure quick healing.