Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery: The Risk of Knee Infection

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You may require knee replacement surgery if you have ongoing knee swelling and pain that negatively impacts your ability to go about your daily activities properly. In most cases, recovery from knee replacement is smooth sailing. In select instances, however, some individuals will go on to develop a mild to severe infection.

Fortunately, approximately only one in a hundred patients will develop some kind of infection.

How Does a Knee Infection Develop?

An infection may develop right in the wound following surgery, or months or years following the procedure. It may likewise develop around the newly implanted artificial knee. Following the process, bacteria could enter the body via the wound.

If it reaches the artificial joint, it could result in an infection. Not all bacteria are harmful, like those that naturally occur in your stomach, but others are harmful and could result in an infection. The immune system is capable of killing harmful bacteria before it infects the body.

But when you have an artificial joint (which is made non-organic materials including plastic and metal), it will be more difficult for your body to kill the bacteria that gets into the artificial joint.

Warning Signs of a Knee Infection

Redness and warmth in the area surrounding the knee or incision, as well as mild swelling in the ankle and knee are normal side effects of knee replacement surgery. However, if these symptoms worsen instead of getting better, they may indicate an infection. These include:

  • Increasing stiffness and pain in your replacement joint
  • Still feeling pain when walking even after your doctor said that you should be walking without any pain at this point
  • Gray, foul-smelling liquid leaking from the wound
  • Worsening tenderness, redness, and warmth of the entire knee or the incision
  • High-grade fever
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats or chills

Treating a Knee Infection

In general, infections related to knee replacements are typically categorized into early infections and late infections. Early infections are those that manifest after weeks or months following the replacement surgery.

When you go to your orthopedic doctor in Provo with an early infection, you may need to undergo surgery for cleaning the infection and take antibiotics for six weeks, at least to kill the bacteria causing the infection.

Late infections are those that have been present for some time, years even before an infection diagnosis is made. They are likewise harder to treat. In most cases, the artificial joint has already become loose, so they will need to get the implants removed to treat the infection.

After the removal of the implant via surgery, the infection will be treated with antibiotics. When the infection has been treated, the next step is surgery to replace the knee implants.

Upon the successful treatment of a knee infection, patients can go on with their daily activities. Some may need to undergo physical therapy exercises depending on certain factors such as age and their overall health condition.

Although knee infection treatment requires a great deal of time and effort, with proper and early treatment, you’re assured of the best possible outcomes.

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