Knee replacement is a surgical procedure intended to repair a knee that has been damaged by arthritis or a knee injury. Metal and plastic parts are used to replace the kneecap as well as the ends of the bones in the knee joint.
People who find they can no longer participate in the activities they enjoy due to chronic knee pain often choose to undergo knee replacement surgery. And, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90% of patients experience a significant reduction in knee pain after surgery. However, recovering from surgery has hurdles of its own, and some patients may experience some pain while they recover.
Why does my shin hurt after my knee replacement?
Recovery from surgery can take several months, so it’s not unusual to still feel soreness in your knee and the areas around it after you’ve undergone a knee replacement. Here are a few reasons you may be experiencing shin pain after your knee replacement:
- Nerve pain — During knee replacement surgery, there is a small chance that your peroneal nerve could have been damaged. The peroneal nerve is the nerve that travels down the leg past the knee. If your shin pain is nerve related, it may be accompanied by numbness, itching or tingling sensations.
- Postoperative swelling — As the body begins healing itself after surgery, thousands of cells are sent to the affected body part. The influx of all of these cells to the area causes inflammation and swelling in and around the knee, but this is a normal part of the healing process. Pain and stiffness often accompany this swelling.
- Strain — As your knee heals, it will be under more strain as you walk. Muscles and tendons are healing around your new knee implants, as well as the cartilage between your joints. A 2009 study showed that strain on the tibia (the main joint in the knee) increased by as much as 40% after surgery. This is also a normal part of the healing process, but can cause pain and discomfort while walking.
How can I reduce the pain in my shin after knee replacement?
While some pain is expected while recovering from surgery, it is important to take care of your knee as it heals to make sure that it does not become injured. That is where physical therapy can help. Post-surgery physical therapy programs are specially designed to help you recover more quickly and with less pain. A licensed physical therapist can walk you through therapeutic exercises, gait training, electrical stimulation, and muscle strengthening therapies to reduce your pain and inflammation, increase your mobility, and work to ensure that your knee does not become injured.
At Back in Motion Physical Therapy, we are ready and willing to aid you in recovering from your knee replacement and other major surgeries.
Contact us today for more information about surgery rehab physical therapy or to schedule an initial appointment.