Have you had a Total Knee Replacement surgery (TKR) and are experiencing pain?  Unfortunately, you’re not alone.

At least one out of eight patients report pain a year after surgery, and some studies say this its almost one out of five.

The pain tends to develop.  Patients report limited pain for the first three months, while strong pain medication is used.  For some, however, reducing the pain medication doesn’t coincide with a decrease in pain, which may even increase.

Local treatments

Analgesics, or painkillers, are often used for TKR associated pain.  Many prefer not to take oral medications that are systemic in nature and so choose local treatments.

Localized patches that dispense pain medication are an option.  Capsaicin and other creams are also commonly used.

Massaging the painful area may help prevent desensitization.

Alternative therapies for pain

Meditation and other alternative treatments like hypnosis have shown some – but limited – help with pain management.

“Antidepressants” for pain

Your doctor may consider prescribing a medication commonly known as an anti-depressant.  While they certainly serve that function, they also have pain reducing effects in doses lower than those used for depression.

Tricylcic antidepressants tend to be more effective than SSRIs like Prozac, but they also tend to have more side effects.


Figuring out what is causing the pain takes proper diagnosis.  Unfortunately, that means more imaging and testing.

Some questions to help figure out what’s going on:

1) Is the pain sharp or chronic?
2) Does it occur during a specific activity?
3) Did the pain exist before surgery?

Sharp pain, for instance, tends to indicate a mechanical issue, while chronic pain may indicate infection or other issues.  Signs of infection include chills and fever, and should be treated immediately.


One of many possible complications is the presence of a neuroma, or an overgrowth of nervous tissue.  Treatment consists of selective denervation and has a high success rate of around 86%.  Side effects are common, too, unfortunately, but tend to subside over 3-6 weeks.


The management of patients with painful total knee replacement

Evaluation of patients with a painful total knee replacement



All content on this site is strictly for INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. Please consult your doctor for any advice regarding your condition.