Knee Replacement before Back Surgery?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 36
   Posted 9/18/2010 8:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello all.  I have posted several times about the continued agony I am in with my back.  I have the classic "failed back" syndrome, and am working with a new, "second opinion" surgeon about what I can do.  The diagnosis is that my fusion did not "take," and that there is a loose piece of bone which is causing the chronic pain.  It is terrible.
Now, my right knee has gotten so bad from walking with a cane (and probably not walking properly), my knee doctor wants to do a total knee replacement next month.
Does anyone know if that would be a good or bad thing to attempt?  I would be in the hospital for a week and then in skilled nursing for 2 weeks.  I know it would improve the terrible pain I now have in the knee, but what are the implications for my terrible pain in the back?
I just don't know what to do.  My primary care physician thinks it is a bad idea, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to walk.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.............

Retired Mom
Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 9/19/2010 2:54 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Riccardo,

I had the same diagnosis (with the bone that "grew" sort of floating around and space between it and the L5 and it and the S1). My surgery was about 18 months ago and they talked about going back in to "fix" it.....but only after another year. Apparently the bone can continue to grow and possibly to fuse even after this long. Yes, the pain is BAD, but PM has been working with me and strangely enough the nerve ablation in the facet joints helps tremendously (along with my meds, of course).

I was sent to PT to learn to use a cane before my PM would allow it. He told me that using a cane incorrectly could cause exactly what you are describing. I have only had knee pain on a few occasions and then it would flare and then go back down. I cannot even begin to imagine going through what you are experiencing right now, but I would honestly get a second opinion or even a third before I let somebody cut my knee after my back was already screwed up. It may be that an injection, some PT, and correct use of the cane could relieve some of the pain.

Good luck to you!
Retired Mom

solar powered
Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 538
   Posted 9/19/2010 4:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Riccardo. I think you may be in a very tough spot. Have you had an MRI to confirm that there is now arthritis in the knee bad enough to be causing the pain? If so it probably is because of or got worse because of the abnormal gait that you have because of the back pain. The problems kind of feed off of each other. If you get the knee replacement but can't normalize your gait due to the back pain I wonder how effective the surgery will be. (As my doc says, it's not the arthritis in there but the abnormal movement of the joint causing problems). If the MRI has NOT confirmed degeneration in the knee then a lot of the pain may be related to muscle imbalances caused by the altered gait. I have that issue. I wish I had the magic answer for you. Maybe you can get your back surgeon and knee surgeon together on a conference call to hash this all out with you. Obviously something needs to be done for you but what at what time is the big question. I wish you the best of luck as you travel through this painful time. Lisa
If I can laugh at it, I can live with it.

Post Edited (geckogirl) : 9/19/2010 3:17:59 PM (GMT-6)

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16793
   Posted 9/20/2010 12:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Ricardo what type of testing is your dr working off of to say you need a knee replacement? You are fairly young if I remember right and usually they will not do knee replacement on young individuals because those wear out over time too. As far as the actual surgery itself, they are very common now and done all the time. It is a very in depth surgery and the post op time to recover is several months. it is not something you will recover from in 6 weeks. My sisterinlaw had hers done in her 50's and they made her wait almost 10 years before doing it then. if it were my knee I would find myself an orthopedic that does knee's only and go in for a consult. By all means get a 2nd opinion.

I think you need to sit down and talk to this surgeon and weigh out which is giving you the most problem and go from here, but there again, I would still get a 2nd opinion for my knee. None of us here are drs so we really can only say what we would do if we were in you shoes.

By the way were you able to do the search here at the forum on pain pumps and find the info you were looking for? If you have any further questions about the pump ask and I will do my best to answer.


New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 9/20/2010 2:07 PM (GMT -6)   
I think that Underthebus is referring to me with the soldier and knee comment. This is very true I have sever knee pain that they traced to being a problem in my spine, I have done a lot of research and found that a lot of leg and knee pain is caused by the back.. Not sure if you are familiar tho but the actor that plays House on the TV show has stopping or has already stopped because him walking with the cane has caused him knee problems or at least that is what I have heard..
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