scar tissue after knee replacement

Posted by leithlane @leithlane, Jan 31, 2017

I had knee replacement surgery 6 weeks ago . Through PT I have been working on breaking up the scar tissue only for it to regrow by the time I get back to PT two days later. I have been massaging at home, using a hand held massager and roller. It is painful and swollen. I am getting very disheartened. Any suggestions as to what else I can do. Has anyone had laser treatments to break up scar tissue? Were they effective?

@kibe75

Hi. Just joined today after finding this thread while googling about scar tissue after knee replacement. I am 42 years old and 6 weeks out from a partial knee replacement, at my post op visit this week was basically scolded by the PA I saw about my flexion and extension (9-100) and was told with “only” a partial I should be back to my pre-op of 0-130 and break up the scar tissue. I left that visit so discouraged. I have been doing my physical therapy religiously daily, but the pain has been so bad that I’m in tears most days. The PA upped my physical therapy appointments back to 3x/week. My physical therapist said yesterday that he feels somewhat responsible in the development of the scar tissue because he should have been more aggressive from the beginning but because of the severe pain I was in backed off some hoping that as the pain subsided I would be able to tolerate more. Well, the pain hasn’t subsided but I’m still having to push more through the pain to try to get “normal”. I was in tears at physical therapy from the pushing he was doing on the knee to get it to bend further and to break up that tissue. I’m back on the Diclofenac I was pre surgery to try to help with the inflammation and was given Tramadol to take before PT and at night to help with the pain, unfortunately that doesn’t really help much. I feel like every time I call my surgeon’s office to ask for something more for the pain I’m treated like a drug seeker. I was told that if I don’t make significant progress in the next couple of weeks, I would probably be needing a manipulation. I’ve been through 3 surgeries in the past year (knee scope-where the severe osteoarthritis was discovered, the partial knee replacement, and gallbladder removal), that thinking about anesthesia again makes me ill – and I’m almost out of medical leave benefit. My emotions are all over the place these days. Thanks for letting me vent, for reading, and for helping me to realize I’m not so alone in this journey.

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At physical therapy today, he measured me at 8-116…an improvement of 1 degree in each direction from last week. I've been able to ride an exercise bike for the past week or so. What I'm more frustrated with is my therapist thinks I'm doing ok since I'm still seeing progress, but the physician assistant at my surgeon's office acted like I should be back to pre-surgery of 0-130. 
I'm definitely not going to quit and I'm going to keep giving it my all. I called my surgeon on Monday because the weekend was so bad with pain and couldn't sleep because of it, but was told there was nothing they could do and to just keep with it. Called my family doctor (more for something to help me sleep and for depression), and she refilled my pain medication since she thinks it's all related back to pain. 

@homebrew

I had TKR 16 months ago. Had a operation to remove some scar results negative. Have therapies a number of times Also water therapy. when is a revision called upon?

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How bad is a reflssion on a tkr

@kibe75

Hi. Just joined today after finding this thread while googling about scar tissue after knee replacement. I am 42 years old and 6 weeks out from a partial knee replacement, at my post op visit this week was basically scolded by the PA I saw about my flexion and extension (9-100) and was told with “only” a partial I should be back to my pre-op of 0-130 and break up the scar tissue. I left that visit so discouraged. I have been doing my physical therapy religiously daily, but the pain has been so bad that I’m in tears most days. The PA upped my physical therapy appointments back to 3x/week. My physical therapist said yesterday that he feels somewhat responsible in the development of the scar tissue because he should have been more aggressive from the beginning but because of the severe pain I was in backed off some hoping that as the pain subsided I would be able to tolerate more. Well, the pain hasn’t subsided but I’m still having to push more through the pain to try to get “normal”. I was in tears at physical therapy from the pushing he was doing on the knee to get it to bend further and to break up that tissue. I’m back on the Diclofenac I was pre surgery to try to help with the inflammation and was given Tramadol to take before PT and at night to help with the pain, unfortunately that doesn’t really help much. I feel like every time I call my surgeon’s office to ask for something more for the pain I’m treated like a drug seeker. I was told that if I don’t make significant progress in the next couple of weeks, I would probably be needing a manipulation. I’ve been through 3 surgeries in the past year (knee scope-where the severe osteoarthritis was discovered, the partial knee replacement, and gallbladder removal), that thinking about anesthesia again makes me ill – and I’m almost out of medical leave benefit. My emotions are all over the place these days. Thanks for letting me vent, for reading, and for helping me to realize I’m not so alone in this journey.

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@kibe75, In my own opinion, 8-116 is nothing to beat yourself up over. Heck, I’m 11 years out and was never able to reach 116 degrees. I’d be encouraged that you are gaining, even if it is slow. The pain will get better as things settle down more and level out, it just took time. I know the feeling though. The pain I experienced from my replacement was like steady, but intense rolling waves crashing to shore. It was a relentless throbbing for me that would be dulled with pain medications but never fully subside. It did get better, and now I have no pain, compared to the daily level 10 pain I had in the knee pre-surgery. I’m glad your family doctor was able to get you some refills to help with your pain. Trying to do physical therapy and rehab while in excessive pain made the recovery so much more difficult because you don’t want to do you your exercises.

@kibe75

Hi. Just joined today after finding this thread while googling about scar tissue after knee replacement. I am 42 years old and 6 weeks out from a partial knee replacement, at my post op visit this week was basically scolded by the PA I saw about my flexion and extension (9-100) and was told with “only” a partial I should be back to my pre-op of 0-130 and break up the scar tissue. I left that visit so discouraged. I have been doing my physical therapy religiously daily, but the pain has been so bad that I’m in tears most days. The PA upped my physical therapy appointments back to 3x/week. My physical therapist said yesterday that he feels somewhat responsible in the development of the scar tissue because he should have been more aggressive from the beginning but because of the severe pain I was in backed off some hoping that as the pain subsided I would be able to tolerate more. Well, the pain hasn’t subsided but I’m still having to push more through the pain to try to get “normal”. I was in tears at physical therapy from the pushing he was doing on the knee to get it to bend further and to break up that tissue. I’m back on the Diclofenac I was pre surgery to try to help with the inflammation and was given Tramadol to take before PT and at night to help with the pain, unfortunately that doesn’t really help much. I feel like every time I call my surgeon’s office to ask for something more for the pain I’m treated like a drug seeker. I was told that if I don’t make significant progress in the next couple of weeks, I would probably be needing a manipulation. I’ve been through 3 surgeries in the past year (knee scope-where the severe osteoarthritis was discovered, the partial knee replacement, and gallbladder removal), that thinking about anesthesia again makes me ill – and I’m almost out of medical leave benefit. My emotions are all over the place these days. Thanks for letting me vent, for reading, and for helping me to realize I’m not so alone in this journey.

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i reached 121 and PT wanted more. Been about 5 years and still have some pain after golf and walking so i ride a bike. That seems to be the best for me. I was told i needed the left done and i said who me? Momma didn’t raise a dummy. I went to stem cells. Tends to work, sometimes pain but no arthritis in knee and the knee brace they give you to work out in and play golf etc really works. If i had a do over i would have had stems done on both knees. I hear all the arguments. Expensive, how long will it last, etc so i will see how it goes. 2 years and doing fine. My DR said a client from France came over for it. One thing to beware of make sure the drs are trained in it. I notice chiropractors etc are doing it. Be careful out there and do your homework if u opt for stem cells.

@cobweb

I had my tkr done 5 years ago, still swells especially in water therapy. That is why i went to stem cells for the other knee. All i can say is live with it and try to strengthen the leg as best you can. My surgeon just shrugged his shoulders and said move on. I noticed in my years of dealing with it is some really do well and others do not and they have the same surgeons. Pain pills and i do not get along so working out and doing my exercises is all i can recommend. If i had do overs i would never had the tkr done. Next life will be different.

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I have had the pain shots no good. Had the spinal pain device installed, as a trial. No good. Now see another doctor who fixes mistakes from other doctors. 18 Months I have had enough!

New to group today, had tkr done 4 years ago. Started out fine but had a Depuy knee put in originally which was determined to be faulty, so had a tk revision (2 revisions) done and had an Attune knee put in. That was in 2016. On top of it, my femoral nerve was nicked during the original surgery to top it off. I have had almost everything done everyone on here talks about. Therapy, massages, pain meds, and just recently had the spinal stimulator put in my back to help with some of the numbness and sever tingling down the inside of my knee/leg. that is helping there, but, since about November 2017, my mobility and the amount of stiffness has gotten to the point that I am now relegated to using at least 1 crutch and a good share of the time 2 crutches to get around. I had been a very active wildland fire fighter until this year (41 years) when the knee pain got to the point that I could not tolerate it any longer and have been seeing and using my spine and pain specialist for over a year for help. I am on 600 mg gabapentin 4 times a day and 10-325 mg of Percocet every 6 hours as needed. This only, as many say, dulls the pain, but does nothing for the stiffness. So I have cut back on the meds to times I only need it worst so that is generally once, maybe twice a day. I am getting trigger point injections in the nerves in my left lower leg (leg where I had the tkr done) and will soon be getting another nerve obligation done, along with physical therapy, to try and improve my mobility. I too am in a place where no one seems to want to touch my knee/leg for some reason yet, I think besides the nerve issue, that I have the unrealistic buildup of scar tissue that also needs to be treated but, I don’t know where to turn to. It’s really frustrating when your original TKR literally falls out with the revision (had 2 revisions and 1 orthoscopic procedure done) due to faulty components that led to this situation. I have seen well over 30+ different doctors, neurologists, orthopedic specialists, pain specialists, on and on, and I am willing to try and do almost everything to help get rid of at least some of the pain and stiffness. I know I will never be totally free of it, but even a 50% reduction would be unreal. 7 months ago, I could till my garden, mow my lawn, blow snow out of drive, and on and on. But now, I am luck to walk our to my barn, just about 200 feet, with my crutches. So very disheartening. Any ideas, suggestions, please let me know. I am game for it all. Thanks

Went to pittsburgh doctor

Went to pittsburgh doctor that fixes other doctors mistakes. His name is doctor mears minuets there he found the problem and is fixing the problem as we speak

I had left TKR in August 2016. Knee still swells, warmth and steps are a challenge. Outside leg is still numb feeling. Surgeon told me sometimes it takes awhile to heal. Every night it still aches as bad as the right one which needs to be replaced also, but I refuse until I know what is going on with the left. I walked this summer 3-5 miles daily outdoors, now I workout at local wellness center, doing treadmill, recumbent elipitcal and leg press machine. I also do stretching exercises in between that was done thru OT following surgery. Bending is no problem. I can bend it all the way. Sitting or standing long periods of time are terrible. My main complaint is the aching I experience nightly. No issue when I get up in the morning. Wonder if anyone else has had any of this type of pain? I have an appt on Feb 8th with a different orthopedic clinic for a second opinion. Thanks, any info would be great!

@dmweber

I had left TKR in August 2016. Knee still swells, warmth and steps are a challenge. Outside leg is still numb feeling. Surgeon told me sometimes it takes awhile to heal. Every night it still aches as bad as the right one which needs to be replaced also, but I refuse until I know what is going on with the left. I walked this summer 3-5 miles daily outdoors, now I workout at local wellness center, doing treadmill, recumbent elipitcal and leg press machine. I also do stretching exercises in between that was done thru OT following surgery. Bending is no problem. I can bend it all the way. Sitting or standing long periods of time are terrible. My main complaint is the aching I experience nightly. No issue when I get up in the morning. Wonder if anyone else has had any of this type of pain? I have an appt on Feb 8th with a different orthopedic clinic for a second opinion. Thanks, any info would be great!

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Hello @dmweber,

Welcome to Connect and thank you for posting your question about knee replacement pain. I moved your discussion to an existing discussion on scar tissue after knee replacement. Although your issue may not be scar tissue, I moved your post because I wanted to introduce you to all of the members discussion knee replacements. If you are responding by email, I always suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY so that you will be brought to where your post is and it so that you can also read through other members’ posts about their experiences as well.

@dmweber, I had a knee replacement myself in March 2006. Like you, I had a heck of a time recovering. I had to have two manipulations to break up my scar tissue and even then my mobility was not great. Eventually, closer to 2 years post op, I ended up with 0-105 movement. My situation sounds similar to you as well in regards to pain. I also ride bike, do leg presses, and am quite active. I have noticed that if I overdo it on the leg press (too much weight or too many reps) I will get a dull, but persistent, ache in my knee during the night. Do you notice your knee pain is worse on days you are active or days you use the leg press? I was told my knee is structurally sound, so whatever pain I am experiencing is in the soft tissues surrounding the knee, whether it be muscles or the scar tissue that is on the top of my knee. Has anyone mentioned scar tissue as a potential culprit for your pain?

I quit the leg presses. Do leg lifts with no weights and just do a lot of them. 5 years later still swollen, but i bike and golf. Notice in the winter the knee aches from the cold. But it is what it is, put up with it and move on i say.

@dmweber

I had left TKR in August 2016. Knee still swells, warmth and steps are a challenge. Outside leg is still numb feeling. Surgeon told me sometimes it takes awhile to heal. Every night it still aches as bad as the right one which needs to be replaced also, but I refuse until I know what is going on with the left. I walked this summer 3-5 miles daily outdoors, now I workout at local wellness center, doing treadmill, recumbent elipitcal and leg press machine. I also do stretching exercises in between that was done thru OT following surgery. Bending is no problem. I can bend it all the way. Sitting or standing long periods of time are terrible. My main complaint is the aching I experience nightly. No issue when I get up in the morning. Wonder if anyone else has had any of this type of pain? I have an appt on Feb 8th with a different orthopedic clinic for a second opinion. Thanks, any info would be great!

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Hi, I had a TKR in Sept 2014. I have primary Srogrens and mixed connective tissue disorder. Anyway, initially, the knee healed up really well, and everyone including me was very satisfied. However, things started to ache and ache and ache with the dull consistent pain at night that interrupts sleep. Also, range of motion was restricted even after months of PT. Rheumatologist suggested the auto-immune disorders were responsible somewhat for wanting to reject the “foreign” body. After almost 3 years, knee started to be less sensitive. I can now kneel on it although it is permanently numb along the cap and left side. Still, I wake almost every night with the dull nagging ache and Pain that sometimes requires some lidocaine. Mornings I awake with it hot and swollen. BUT I can walk and while I can’t hike or go more than say, 2 miles, I’m grateful for small favors!

@dmweber

I had left TKR in August 2016. Knee still swells, warmth and steps are a challenge. Outside leg is still numb feeling. Surgeon told me sometimes it takes awhile to heal. Every night it still aches as bad as the right one which needs to be replaced also, but I refuse until I know what is going on with the left. I walked this summer 3-5 miles daily outdoors, now I workout at local wellness center, doing treadmill, recumbent elipitcal and leg press machine. I also do stretching exercises in between that was done thru OT following surgery. Bending is no problem. I can bend it all the way. Sitting or standing long periods of time are terrible. My main complaint is the aching I experience nightly. No issue when I get up in the morning. Wonder if anyone else has had any of this type of pain? I have an appt on Feb 8th with a different orthopedic clinic for a second opinion. Thanks, any info would be great!

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Wow, you can knell on it. I try to ignore the stiffness and pain. This is why I went to stem cells for the second knee.

@JustinMcClanahan

Hello @leithlane, welcome to Connect.

This is an experience very close to my own. I had my right knee replaced in 2006. I also had aggressive scar tissue immediately after my knee replacement. Ultimately, I had to have two post-surgery knee manipulations where they put me back under and broke the scar tissue up by bending my knee manually. Even after those two manipulations I still had issues with scar tissue. It took almost a full year and a half until I ended up breaking the scar tissue loose on my own when I jumped and landed awkwardly. Although it may be frustrating, sticking with your PT is a must.

I would like to invite @mnpat, @basa, @winning, @joanney, @emme, @kerri123, @gailfaith, @cautiousoptimism, @cheris, @ronnie3716, and @amberpep, to this discussion as they have all had knee replacements and may be able to provide some thoughts on their experiences with scar tissue after surgery.

@leithlane, have you heard of or tried a brace with hand cranks on it that you use to help with straightening and bending your knee? What does your therapist/surgeon say about your scar tissue problems?

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I had total knee replacement a little over one year ago, and a manipulation a couple of months after the surgery. I still have a stiff knee with limited mobility although there has been improvement. I have stopped therapy temporarily but have been forcing myself to bend my knee, which has resulted in some periodic burning sensations which have become frequent. I believe the pain is from the breaking up of scar tissue. I will be seeing the surgeon for another follow-up later this month.

I had total knee replacement a little over one year ago, and a manipulation a couple of months after the surgery. I still have a stiff knee with limited mobility although there has been slight improvement in that it is a little easier to put on socks and boots and I can lift my knee replacement leg a little more during showers. I have stopped therapy temporarily but have been forcing myself to bend my knee, which has resulted in some periodic burning sensations which have become frequent. I believe the pain is from the breaking up of scar tissue. I will be seeing the surgeon for another follow-up later this month. My surgeon said my case was not typical. I am unable to do a round on an exercise bike because of the limited mobility. I was in a nursing/rehabilitation facility for about 15 days and I don’t think I received the kind of physical therapy that I should have received initially. By the time I was released the physical therapist that saw me initially at home questioned what had been done in the rehab facility. I had nearly zero mobility. This therapist worked with the surgeons to get me set up for a manual manipulation. A physical therapist in the hospital measured my mobility at 65 after the manipulation. Does this seem normal?

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