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Pain in the joints can prove to be debilitating, keeping you from carrying out your regular work or household activities. Many solutions exist for joint pain, and in some cases, the correct procedure is joint revision. But what is joint revision? For whom is it recommended? And what should you expect from your visit to a joint revision doctor?

Joint revision surgery is conducted after a joint replacement surgery, a surgery where the patient receives a new synthetic joint to replace the injured original joint. This might involve a synthetic shoulder or hip, although most often it is the knee. Joint replacement surgery is almost always highly effective at eliminating pain and restoring a full range of motion.

But if joint replacement is so effective, why is a second surgery needed? Simply put, more patients are having knee replacements and other joint surgeries earlier in life, meaning they are outliving their implants. Most knee and hip replacements are designed to last between 10 and 20 years, but as these implants are put in earlier and as people live longer, the need for a second surgery increases.

There are a few specific reasons for having a revision, which include:

  • Infection. When the area surrounding the implant becomes infected, it can lead to swelling, which can in turn cause the implant to become misaligned.
  • Joint dislocation. Sometimes, the new joint simply pops out. This is more common with hip replacements than with other joints.
  • Loosening of the original implant. While implants are carefully cemented into place, over time, simple wear and tear can grind them loose.

Any of these causes can trigger the need for a revision hip or a revision knee. In this second surgery, the surgeon goes in to perform an additional replacement, swapping out the prosthesis with a new implant. Revision surgery is not identical to the initial replacement, and it's vital to ensure that your revision is done by a skilled joint surgeon with ample experience in both joint replacement surgery and revision procedures. 

So what should you expect from your appointment with a joint revision surgeon? First, anticipate a thorough medical examination. This may involve X-rays and other forms of imaging, and it will likely involve a detailed medical history, as well. It's imperative that you are correctly diagnosed and your surgeon ensures that a revision surgery is truly what you need.

Following the joint revision surgery, you can expect there to be some recovery time. This will be similar to your recovery from your initial joint replacement. You'll need to stay off your feet for a few days, and it may be a matter of months before you are back to regular mobility. During the first few weeks of the healing process, you will need to use plenty of ice to prevent swelling. The specialist who performs your surgery will also be able to prescribe pain medication, keeping you as pain-free as possible. Regular postoperative appointments with your surgeon will ensure that you are recovering properly.

You should also expect physical therapy to be part of your rehabilitation process. For most patients, physical therapy begins within a day or two of the surgery itself and is a vital part of regaining your full range of motion.

At OAK Orthopedics, our specialty-trained joint revision doctors, Dr. Alexander Michalow and Dr. Rajeev Puri, have extensive experience in treating a variety of joint conditions and injuries. Our goal is to help our patients get back on their feet as quickly as possible, free from pain and swelling.

If you have joint pain that you'd like to have evaluated, we encourage you to contact our team of orthopedic doctors today at one of our three locations in Bradley, Frankfort, or Watseka. Call (815) 928-8050 for our Bradley or Watseka office or (815) 469-3452 for our Frankfort office, or request an appointment online with one of our experienced joint revision surgeons.