Why Is There a Swollen Ankle After Knee Replacement? Causes, And Treatment

You may hurt your knee while walking, running, jumping, and playing, but a serious accident may also be a reason for it. If your knee get fractured, you might also need a knee replacement. And certainly like every other surgery knee replacement also has side effects like swollen ankle. 

So, why is there a swollen ankle after knee replacement

The swelling after surgery is a normal part of healing, and there may be other reasons for it. It may be caused by the mistake of an inexperienced surgeon, not taking proper rest, remaining of a small part of broken bone at the site of surgery.

Many causes can dislocate your knee, and the reasons and remedies for it are given below. Let’s check them out.

Procedure of Knee Replacement

Before knowing the relation between knee replacement and ankle swelling, let’s look into its procedure. This will help you to know about the bones involved and how it might get affected after the surgery. 

swollen-ankle-after-knee-replacement

There are many steps for the replacement of the knee of a person, and the whole procedure is described below:

Making Incision at the Place of Surgery

The health care provider makes an incision throughout the front of your knee to gain access to the patella, more usually known as the kneecap. 

Conventional knee replacements require an incision of approximately 8 – 10 inches. A minimally invasive knee operation typically involves an incision of almost five inches. 

There are still pros and cons to a smaller surgical area, so it is unclear if the pros outweigh the cons. Ask your doctor what technique is appropriate for you.

Spinning the Knee Cap

Among the parts of your knee that are exposed, the patella is the first. During knee surgery, your surgeon will rotate the patella outside of the knee area. This lets the health care provider view the region that had to carry out the surgical procedure.

Preparation of Thigh Bone (Femur)

The first bone your health care provider will resurface is your femur, generally referred to as the thigh bone. Once the health care provider has opened up and uncovered your knee joint, they will be able to cautiously measure your bones and make specific cuts to the usage of special instruments. 

thigh-bone

A femur is cut away from the end that has broken and cartilage has been removed. To fit the primary component of the artificial knee, the femoral component, the end of your femur must be reduced and resurfaced.

Preparing the Shin Bone

The physician attaches the metallic femoral element to the end of your femur and uses bone cement to seal it into place. The tibia or shinbone is resurfaced into some subsequent bone by surgeon. 

The physician eliminates broken bone and cartilage from the pinnacle of the tibia, which shapes the bone to match the metallic and plastic tibial components.

Implantation of Tibial Component and Adjustment of the Patella

The backside part of the implant, referred to as the tibial tray, is suited to the tibia and secured into the region using bone cement.

Once the tray is in the region, the medical professional will snap in a polyethylene (medical-grade plastic) insert between the tibial tray and the femoral element and act as a buffer type. 

tibial-components

This insert will help your frame as you bend and flex your knee. Before returning the patella to its original position, the medical professional would possibly want to flatten the patella and shape it with an extra plastic factor for you to make sure the right match with the relaxation of your implant. 

If necessary, the plastic piece is cemented to the underlying bone.

Final Touch

Your health care provider will bend and flex the knee to ensure that the implant is running correctly and that alignment, sizing, and positioning are suitable. Afterward, your surgeon will close your incision with stitches or staples, after which bandage it and prep you for recovery. 

You may go away from the operating room with your leg in a non-stop passive motion (CPM) gadget that will lightly bend and flex your new knee for you while you’re lying down.

Swollen Ankle After Knee Replacement

Knee replacement is a very time-consuming process, and many things may prove disturbing for you after this surgery.

The primary outcome is swelling in different parts of your leg, ankle or knee, or both.

Swelling is a regular part of the recovery process. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that most human beings experience slight to extreme swelling within the initial few days or weeks after surgical treatment and moderate to moderate swelling for 3 to 6 months after surgical treatment.

swollen-ankle

It is merely a natural phenomenon because after breaking a bone, the blood flow ceases in that area, and because the muscles there lack oxygen and food, they swell. 

This is natural during the regeneration of new muscles because the old muscles die, but sometimes there are other reasons for ankle swelling.

Causes

There may be two to three reasons for swelling in the ankle, which we will explain below.

Displacement of Bone

If your bone breaks, and you visit a doctor for repairing, the doctor repairs your bone. But when you did not care for it and didn’t take proper rest for the period taught by the doctor. Then you will experience swelling. 

If this occurs, your broken bone is not repaired correctly, and you start running, jumping, playing, and doing such activities before time, which may prove harmful for you. 

bone-displacement

Because the repaired bone may displace, and the muscles present near that bone will die due to blockage of blood circulation.

Mistake of Physician

There are a lot of doctors sitting in small clinics with no or minimal experience, and if you happen to be cured by such a doctor, then maybe your bone is not repaired well or fitted well in the previous position. 

Knee joints play an important role in our body motion, and if it is not replaced correctly, the movement will be affected and cause swelling in the ankle. There is a link between blood vessels and nerves with the whole body. The part of the body disconnected from them will cause the death of cells at that site, and swelling occurs.

Treatment

The following steps should be taken in case of swallowing:

Do Regularly Physical Therapy Exercises

This is very important for making your muscles strong in your leg, and proper exercise also regulates blood circulation so that proper food may reach the muscles, and the healing process will speed up. 

Save your body from Infections

The bacteria or viruses may enter our body via the exposed area to air. If the area of surgery is not covered correctly, then the bacteria may cause infection and inflammation. 

Also, this would lead your leg along the ankle to swell. Use antiseptics for cleaning your wound and killing germs.

Visit the surgeon

If you do not know why your ankle is swollen and swelling is not decreasing, you should consult your surgeon to examine your ankle.

Medication

Swelling of the ankle may also be painful for you, and sometimes it is unbearable, so you can use some medicines to lessen your ankle inflammation. Some medicines are given below, which should be remedied after consulting a doctor.

  • Ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Naproxen Sodium.

Precautions

Complications after knee replacement surgical procedure are uncommon; however, continual ache or swelling is one of the most common complaints after knee replacement.

Use Walker

A walker or cane can ensure that someone no longer falls and harms the new knee. Walkers and canes additionally signal to strangers to be careful and provide the man or woman extra space.

Most of the patients after knee replacement use a walker, and the chance of displacement of bone is decreased to any extent.

Lessening of Swelling

Knee swelling isn’t always only uncomfortable, and it may make range-of-motion exercises challenging.

These exercises are essential to healing and rehabilitation. Patients can deal with swelling by using cold packs and raising the affected leg for 20 to 30-minute intervals, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are used for controlling pain.

Select an Experienced Surgeon

This fact seems a bit funny, but it is the reality that if you select a much more experienced surgeon, then there will be fewer chances of bone displacement and painful swelling. 

Thus, never try to save money or prefer money over your health because you can’t buy health with money.

FAQ

Question: What causes ankle swelling after knee replacement?

Answer:  After surgery, swelling is expected. As the body begins to heal, many cells are dispatched to the affected body part, known as the inflammatory phase of recovery. However, if swelling persists after the body has begun to heal, consult the doctor.

Question: How can the swelling of the ankle be reduced?

Answer: Reduce swelling by using ice packs or cold therapy. The swelling may be relieved by elevating the leg after a knee replacement. Your foot should be elevated to the level of your chest.

Question: What causes swollen feet after knee replacement?

Answer:  Deep thrombosis is caused by blood clots forming in the legs’ veins. Knee replacements and other major surgical procedures are significant sources of deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots in the leg can also result in swelling, particularly in the calf area.

Question: Can a knee replacement become a reason for ankle problems?

Answer:  Occasionally, the rotation of the femoral and tibial components of the knee affects the tibia (shinbone), ultimately affecting the ankle. In case of ankle pain or wearing shoes differently after a total knee replacement, you may wish to consult a foot and ankle surgeon.

Question: For how long will the ankle remain swollen after surgery?

Answer:  Most foot and ankle surgeries cause tenderness and swelling to resolve within 3-4 months; however, healing may also take over a year for more complex and advanced procedures. The first time you return, your cast or bandage may be removed for the first time.

Question: Can a knee injury become a reason for ankle pain?

Answer: In many cases, knee damage that places the foot in an awkward position can cause extensive pain. It can affect either foot. These injuries can also damage the lower leg and lead to knee pain.

Conclusion

Swollen ankle after knee replacement can or may not be a symptom of some difficult situation. Swelling is a natural process during any wound or broken bone recovery, so you don’t need to worry. 

But if you see swelling after proper repairing of bone, this may be due to some serious cause, and you should consult your surgeon. You may also use anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers.

Dr Hafeez Arshad

Dr Hafeez Arshad

This is Dr. Hafeez. I have done my M.Phil in Pharmacology. I am a healthcare professional. My core competencies focus on writing different types of research articles/blogs regarding health sciences.

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