Failed or Painful previous knee replacement

There are multiple reasons why people who have previously undergone total knee replacement may require their knee replacement surgery to be re-done or revised.

Reasons for knee replacements to be revised are numerous. These include:

  • Wearing out of knee replacement components many years after initial surgery.
  • Loosening of the knee replacement components from where they are anchored to bone.
  • Infection in and around the knee replacement parts.
  • Failure of the knee to recover following knee replacement surgery, despite appropriate post-op rehab efforts and adequate time for recovery.
  • Stiffness of the knee replacement.
  • Instability of the knee replacement.
  • Loss or destruction of bone from tibia or femur bones adjacent to the knee replacement.
  • Progressive development of arthritis in regions of the knee that were not replaced during the first knee replacement (e.g. the patella).

Most modern-day knee replacements have excellent longevity. There have been incredible advancements in knee replacement design, manufacture and techniques for knee replacement surgery over recent years and for most people requiring knee replacement, their first knee replacement will be the only one they require for that particular knee. Australian data shows that 15 years following knee replacement surgery, only 7.4% of people have had to undergo knee revision surgery (92.6% of people have not required any further surgery on the knee).

Knee replacement surgery is highly successful at restoring motion and function to an arthritic knee. Full recovery after knee replacement surgery can be slow (up to 18-24 months) and takes dedicated effort to achieve full function. This time and effort can be long and frustrating, however it is often quite normal and patience & perseverance usually pays off in the long run.

Unfortunately, some knee replacements never fully recover and can cause ongoing dissatisfaction – due to stiffness, instability, pain or swelling. Alternatively, a well-functioning knee replacement can become painful many months or years after surgery.

If you have a problematic knee replacement (either a knee replacement that has never fully recovered following surgery or a knee replacement that was functioning well but has started to cause problems, then it is important to have the situation assessed.

In most instances, the best person to see is the orthopaedic surgeon who performed your original surgery. If this is not possible (e.g. due to geography/distance, retirement, death) or if you have ongoing concerns and wish to have the situation reviewed by an expert independent surgeon, then please contact the rooms. Dr Doneley has considerable expertise in the field of knee replacement and performs high volumes of primary, complex and revision knee replacement surgery.

Initial appointment(s) are devoted to assessing the current state of the knee replacement and determining the cause for pain, stiffness, instability or dissatisfaction. This may require additional specialist imaging and blood tests and occasionally requires aspiration or biopsy. Please bring any old x-rays, letters or written details (including your own recollections) regarding your current knee replacement to your appointment.