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Frisch Ortho Hip and Knee Specialist
  • Rochester

Risks Associated with Joint Replacement Surgery

Despite undergoing thorough preoperative medical evaluation, minimally invasive surgery, pain management, and professional assessment of your joint, risks do exist. These risks should be considered carefully before you decide to have surgery. We encourage you to discuss the potential risks with your orthopaedic surgeon, primary care provider, and your family. Every measure will be taken by our team of experts to minimize the risks and avoid complications.

Being aware of the risks can help you minimize your chances

Some of the more common risks are as follows:

Blood Clots

  • Blood clots can form in a leg vein and in your lungs after joint replacement surgery and can be dangerous.
  • More common in older patients, patients who are obese, patients with a history of blood clots, and patients with cancer.
  • Evaluating risk, developing a preventative treatment plan, and moving after surgery can reduce your risk of blood clots.


  • Bleeding into the joint can occur either immediately after surgery or at a later time.
  • Pain and swelling can occur, which can slow your progress and is sometimes confused with infection.


  • Patients with chronic health conditions, like obesity, diabetes or liver disease, or patients who take some forms of corticosteroids, are at higher risk of infection after surgery.
  • Superficial wound infections are usually treated with antibiotics.
  • Deeper infections into the joint may require additional surgery.
  • Infection is very rare in healthy patients having joint replacement.
  • This can occur without a known cause.

Nerve, Blood Vessel, and Ligament Injuries

  • Damage to the surrounding structures including nerves, blood vessels and ligaments, are possible but extremely rare.
  • More commonly there is numbness in the area of the incision which usually, but not always, resolves in 6-12 months.
  • Residual numbness in one or more areas around your incision can occur following surgery. This does not affect the joint movement or function.

Wound Healing

  • Certain factors can interfere with wound healing.
  • Incisions can heal slowly if you take corticosteroids or have a disease that affects the immune system, such as diabetes.
  • We strongly encourage you to stop smoking before your surgery, as smoking is a known factor to slow the healing process.

Credibility Links

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Medical Association
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • Mid-America Orthopaedic Association
  • Michigan Institute for Advanced Surgery Center
  • FAAOS Logo