Hundreds of thousands of knee replacement surgeries are performed in the United States each year, and they are highly successful in eliminating pain, restoring mobility and improving quality of life. If a knee replacement is properly done, over 90% of knee replacements will last at least 15 years.
However, problems do occur with knee replacements. When the implant wears out or another problem develops, people often need a second “revision” surgery in which the existing implant or components are taken out and replaced. The surgeons at the Hofmann Arthritis Institute are all fellowship trained in joint replacement and have the expertise and knowledge necessary to evaluate and treat failed or problematic knee replacements. If you have a knee replacement that needs evaluation, we are happy to assist and provide treatment recommendations.
- Loosening of the implant – the knee replacement may become painful after many years because the components have begun to wear and loosen.
- Fracture – a fall or severe blow can cause a fracture of the bone near the hip or knee replacement that may require a revision of the knee replacement and/or or operative fixation of the fracture.
- Infection – this can be a very serious complication. If a deep infection develops in a hip or knee replacement, revision is often needed to eradicate the infection and to implant new non-infected components.
- Implant recall – on occasion, the implant used in joint replacement is found to have a problem. As a result, patients with a recalled implant should be closely monitored by their physician to make sure it does not need replacement. Revision surgery is sometimes necessary when an implant is recalled.
Be aware of warning signs that there may be a problem, such as pain that comes on suddenly, trouble walking, a sensation that the knee replacement is loose, or increased swelling or fluid in your knee.
A revision joint replacement is more complicated than the initial operation and many physicians who perform primary joint replacements will refer their patients to the revision surgery experts at Hofmann Arthritis Institute.
How can you make the replacement last longer?
- We advise patients to avoid high impact activity such as running and singles tennis, which can shorten the lifespan of the joint replacement. Walking or biking for exercise is better than running, and opt for doubles instead of singles tennis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight, especially obese, is a main factor in developing arthritis in the first place. People who are overweight are more likely to experience loosening of an implant.
- Once the initial healing has taken place and discomfort has diminished, see your orthopedic surgeon if pain develops suddenly. Do not wait to have a problem evaluated.
- If you develop a bacterial infection in another part of your body after joint replacement, be sure to see your medical doctor for appropriate antibiotics.
- Pay a visit to your orthopedic surgeon every few years after hip or knee replacement, even if the joint feels good. The physician can check for early loosening of the implant or another minor problem before it causes a major headache, such as dislocation.
- Have your primary hip or knee replacement with an experienced surgeon who specializes in the procedure and at a center that performs a high number of joint replacements to ensure the best outcome and lower the risk of complications.