After you’ve had a joint replacement, you’ll be able to get back to your daily activity without pain. 80-90% of people are happy with their initial replacement. However, there are some cases where a revision surgery is needed.
A joint replacement revision is operating on a hip or knee joint that has an implant already in place. During this operation, the surgeon will adjust components of an existing implant if they have worn out. There are cases where surgeons remove the old implant and then re-machine the bone to put in a new joint.
Common causes for joint revisions
The hip can dislocate or pop out of the socket. With knee replacements, there are multiple factors that can make it feel unstable. With unstable or loose joints, your surgeon might be able to tighten the hardware.
Joint replacements last around 20 years. Long-term wear on joints cause the materials to degrade. Since materials have improved in the last two decades, this cause of revision has decreased. Another reason for revision is infection. If there is redness or any signs of draining you should contact your provider.
Pain is a sign that you need to visit your provider for evaluation. With joint replacements, you should feel better than before surgery. “It’s worrisome if you experience a sudden pain that doesn’t decrease with basic activity modification,” said Dr. Mark Earll, Marshfield Clinic Health System orthopedic surgeon.
Routine follow-ups are important
After your joint replacement, plan to visit your surgeon every few years. The surgeon will review X-rays to make sure there isn’t loosening of the implant or other problems. “These appointments seem uneventful, but it’s important to monitor your joint,” Earll said.
The goal is to identify any potential issues to evaluate, monitor and take action before it develops into a serious issue. Cases like infections or fractures are emergencies and should be addressed within a few days or weeks.
Recovery time increases
Physical therapy is the same as your first replacement surgery. Your recovery time will usually be at least as long as it was initially. Your age and relative health will have a significant impact on your recovery. Revision surgeries are more complicated. There is less bone and the surgeon will have to work around scarred tissue. “If you were 50 and healthy at your first replacement can’t expect the same recovery if you are getting a revision at age 75,” Earll said.