What are the most painful orthopedic surgeries?

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    From personal experience, surgery to repair [or in my case, REPLACE] three torn ligaments in my knee [ACL, PCL and LCL]. They used “cadaver grafts” and anchored them by drilling slots into my tibia, “tucking” the ligaments into those slots and the closing the slots by drilling screws into the tibia to force the slots closed. It was agony. I only got morphine, which never touched the pain; I was in a perpetual motion machine that constantly bent my leg over and over, and the surgeon said I was to get out of bed and ambulate to the restroom instead of having a bedpan or better, a catheter. So if I had to go, I had to lay on the nurse call light until two people could come into the room, turn off the machine, lift my leg out and sit me up. Needless to say, a couple times I soiled the bed because this process took too long. One night they decided to get back on my and DROPPED the machine ON MY OPERATED LEG. At which point I saw stars and passed out from the pain, soiling the bed anyway.

    Don’t ever agree to such a convoluted surgery, especially when the surgeon has no clue what he is doing. Just insist on a knee replacement instead. This botched surgery stole ten years of my life I’ll never get back.

    I can only speak for myself when I say that having surgery to repair scoliosis has been the most painful surgery I have had to endure to date.

    My spinal surgery was in December of 1998 at Boston Children’s Hospital and I still remember it like it was yesterday. My curve was 55 degrees in the cervical part of the spine. I needed to have both anterior and posterior fusions as well as bone grafts taken from my hip. I have a Harrington rod fused to my spine.

    I had a panic attack in pre-op, I vaguely remember the Surgeon asking me to wiggle my toes and lift my legs. The one thing that stands out most was how much pain I felt. Once I was taken off the morphine pump I was miserable. My body would constantly ache.

    I eventually got into some physical therapy however, I still almost 20 years later, have stiffness and get muscle spasms if I’m careless with my movements.

    All in all I’m healthy, I can do the same things other people do. I excersize regularly, I lift weights, I stay active. My x-rays look like an erector set. Best of all I’m a better predictor of the weather than your local weather man haha.

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    As both an orthopedic surgeon and having had multiple operations as a patient from a personal perspective rotator cuff repair was the most painful. I have had 3 spine operations, 2 rotator cuff operations, knee arthroscopy, carpal tunnel release, and long ago an open shoulder operation.

    Total joint operations seem as if they should be quite painful, but with proper pain management and therapy these patients are out of the hospital and into rehab in 3-5 days.

    Now trauma can be extremely painful and the recovery times long or short.

    Though not in orthopedics, severe burns are known to be extremely painful with repetitive dressing changes. Many of these patients require sedation to change the dressings.

    My own personal experience has been that Basal thumb joint repair was extremely painful.

    From another answer of mine

    The hand and fingers have so many nerve endings that the pain was incredible and the pain only diminished after several days. The pain was still bad until after several weeks of physical therapy. I had just my left hand done, but I’ve put off doing my right hand for 6 years and counting. Even though the pain in my operated hand is gone now, I may never do my right hand even though I live with pain in my thumb every single day, wincing every time I grasp something. My surgeon says they have a less painful technique now, but I’m skeptical.

    I had two total hip replacements. For me the pain was minimal. I was walking the first day, and walking without assistance within two or three weeks.

    “What is the most painful orthopedic surgery?”

    I would say it is amputations of the limbs.

    We usually have to make the patient drink a lot of rum, and still need at least three strong men to hold the patient down. A stick to bite on is also essential.

    This is not the middle ages. With proper anaesthesia during the operation. Whatever the procedure, the patient feels nothing.

    With proper analgesics, the patient should not be suffering after surgery.

    If the operation turns to the most painful. Something or someone went wrong.


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    Joint replacements. From experience: Shoulder worst, Knee second, Hip third. But what a difference a replacement makes. FYI – I am 66. When I went for my induction physical I was listed at 5′ 9″. Today I am 5′ 6 1/2“ due to arthritis. When your body grinds bone on bone it is a disaster. But St. Luke’s Orthopedic Surgeons are a step above the rest and I really appreciate all they have done for me. I live in the Greater Lehigh Valley, Lehigh County PA. And no, this is not a paid advertisement.


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    Pain is very subjective. Knee replacement is one of the most painful regular operations, but we are able to keep patients comfortable. The orthopedic surgeon below said rotator cuff surgery was very painful, but my patients have not reported that to me. In general, the more surgery, the more pain. Extensive spine surgery for something like scoliosis is going to be more painful than repair of a broken bone. No matter how much surgery we do, we can always keep our patients comfortable.


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    Answer requested by

    YOUR ortho surgery is the moat painful! It is surprising on how the same surgery has different pain levels reported by different patients.

    Scoliosis spine surgery as it places hardware in 8 or more spine bones and can have an incision that is from the lower neck to the lower back and can take 4 or more hours.

    Cancer surgery to replace a thigh bone with a cadaver bone is very painful as well.

    Every orthopedics surgery takes the same pain and the risks . no surgery gets more or less pain or risks . today every surgeons care for their patients pain and relief .


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    Without question OPEN rotator cuff repair. Especially if the tear is chronic in nature. long recovery, painful PR process with extensive scarring


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    Answer requested by

    Pain is a subjective feel…. The answer differs in different people….


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