When people have knee replacement surgery, often the deciding factor is that the pain became too much.
What happens when you have knee replacement and the pain continues?
65 year old Kerry Lawson of Elkhart, Indiana had such an experience and it lasted nearly a decade. She had knee replacement surgery on her right knee in December 2006 and had her left knee done a year later. Yet the pain persisted. She actually had a third operation, replacing the right knee with a new device in 2010, and still no relief.
“I remember going to the surgeon and he said, ‘I don’t know what else to do,'” said Lawson who teaches English at Indiana University South Bend. “That was not the news I wanted to hear.”
Total knee replacement is a therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. 5-to-10% of the patients have chronic pain after the surgery.
“The truth is there’s a percentage, not a huge percentage, but a group of patients that go through a total knee replacement procedure and unfortunately have chronic pain afterward,” said Dr. Robert Menzies a sports medicine physician in Arlington, Texas.
And as Kerry Lawson heard and learned, often there isn’t much you can do. Generally it is treated with rest, narcotic and anti-inflammatory medication and topical creams, none of which address the cause of the pain.
“I asked the doctor, can’t we do something?” she remembered. “The pills aren’t the answer because they were masking the cause of the pain.”
Dr. Menzies has written a clinical report on an experience he had with a patient similar to what Kerry Lawson had to go through, treating chronic pain after a total knee replacement patient.
The patient underwent Cooled Radiofrequency neurotomy using COOLIEF™, a product of Halyard Health, formerly Kimberly-Clark Health Care, an outpatient procedure that takes about 15 minutes. The procedure uses cooled radiofrequency energy to target the sensory nerves causing the pain. It circulates water through the device while heating nervous tissue.
It is a relatively easy procedure on the patient, said Dr. Menzies. It’s minimally invasive and is a non-surgical, non-narcotic procedure for chronic knee pain.
Menzies thinks the procedure would work for lingering pain issues after hip replacement.
Dr. Menzies’ patient responded very well, as did Kerry Lawson who also had the procedure done.
“I’m doing things I haven’t done in 15 years,” the grandmother of 20 told us. “For the first time since 2005, I feel good. I’m much more active than I was.”
The Centers for Disease Control estimates there are 719,000 total knee replacement surgeries and 332,000 total hip replacements done in the U.S each year. At a 5% rate for chronic pain, that would mean about 50,000 persons may still be having chronic pain after the surgery.
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