Symptoms of a Failing Knee Implant

Post On 11-30-2010

Knee implant failure can be caused by a variety of issues including improper care of the implant and a faulty prosthesis. But when do you know if your symptoms are that of an implant failure?

Knee implants can fail gradually over time from abnormal wear patterns without some kind of traumatic injury with obvious cause of damage. Many physical symptoms hip implant patients may experience are related to thinning of the plastic spacers between the bones and metal components of the prosthesis which results in the migration of debris.

Here are some symptoms that may be warning signs of a failing knee implant:

Heat or Warmth in the Knee: After the initial implantation of the artificial joint, and for several months, there will be noticeable warmth in the knee. This should, however, dissipate with time. When it does not, or when it returns, this is an indication of a problem. The level of warmth can be so significant that the skin over the knee turns red and is obviously inflamed and often sensitive.

Swelling: In addition to heat, the knee may show signs of swelling. This is generally due to inflammation of the knee lining or synovium, which, in turn, causes increased production of fluid as a response to irritation. When the body cannot absorb the amount of fluid produced the effusion or accumulation causes swelling. The synovium may be irritated by bits of plastic shaving off the knee components by wear or it can be caused by a dissolving of the implant-to-bone interfaces, a process known as osteolysis

Loosening and Instability: Osteolysis, in particular, can lead to a loosening of the knee. This condition is worsened when the surrounding ligaments become inflamed as well and lose their tension. Often patients speak of their fear that the knee will “give out” when they stand or put weight on the limb. Hyper-mobility is also a factor, with the knee prone to move backwards or to the side with unnatural motions that can cause the individual to stumble or to fall.

Pain: Any or all of these conditions can result in pain. If the plastic fragments are present and are large enough, they can actually become lodged in the moving components of the knee, which further harms mobility and causes discomfort. This may manifest as a minor soreness or it can be an acute, severe pain that presents upon motion or as a constant throbbing.

Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should seek an evaluation from their physician to determine if the implant actually is showing signs of failure. Second knee surgeries are much more difficult than initial implantation and are often complicated by bone loss. It is imperative that this kind of damage be minimized. Any signs of problems with an artificial joint should be addressed immediately.

As a Seattle knee implant attorney, I urge patients to pay attention to the warning signs of a failing or faulty knee implant. I you believe you have taken all the proper steps to care for your implant and the failure is due to a faulty prosthesis, you should contact a Seattle knee recall attorney.