Revision Joint Surgery: Recovery Timeline

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If chronic pain and limited mobility have persisted after your initial hip, knee or shoulder replacement procedure, your orthopaedist may have recommended a revision surgery. Involving removal and replacement of prior damaged joint components, revision procedures aim to provide lasting pain relief and enhanced function when original implants fail.

But while these complex revision surgeries carry greater hopes, they also involve harder work on the patient’s part to recover fully. Understanding what to expect and committing to the rehabilitation process is key to getting your revised joint working its best.

Hospital Recovery

After surgery, you’ll spend 24-72 hours hospitalized for monitoring and initial therapy. Expectations include:

  • Managing pain. Medications will keep surgical pain controlled.
  • Early mobility. On day 1 post-op, you’ll start gentle leg exercises and dangle legs over bedside.
  • Using the restroom. With assistance, you’ll begin walking short distances to start regaining independence.
  • Dressing/bathing. Nurses help you change clothes and clean up until discharged.
  • Therapist guidance. A physical therapist provides personalized instructions for using walkers/crutches safely.

Most patients leave the hospital within several days using an assistive device like a walker and return home or temporarily to a rehab facility.

Early Weeks of Recovery

The first weeks home focus on gradually restoring strength and mobility. You can expect:

  • Incision care. Observe the surgical site for proper healing and infection signs.
  • Medications. Take all doctor-prescribed medications for pain management, blood clots and other needs.
  • Elevation. Keep your leg propped up higher than your heart when resting to reduce swelling.
  • Assistive devices. Depending on weight-bearing directions, use crutches, walkers, raised chairs/beds.
  • Cold therapy. Icing the joint helps relieve postoperative pain.
  • Home assistance. Rely on others for cooking, cleaning, transport until you regain independence.

Generally within 2 weeks, you’ll have a follow-up exam to check incision healing and review physical therapy.

Intermediate Recovery Period

Over the next several weeks, you can expect faster gains through committed rehab. Key benchmarks often include:

  • Transitioning devices. Swap walkers for canes or crutches if ready. Wean use until walking solo.
  • More strengthening. Add resistance bands, weights and other tools to build muscles supporting your revised joint.
  • Aquatic therapy. Water exercises improve flexibility/ease impact while healing continues.
  • Functional training. Your therapist helps apply mobility gains to daily tasks like climbing stairs, entering cars, etc.
  • Cardio gains. As approved, walk longer distances outside without assistive devices.

Late Stage Healing

In the later weeks of recovery, typically starting 3 months postoperatively, higher level mobility returns. Progress notes:

  • Muscle strength plateaus. You’ll reach a point where strength-building levels off.
  • Flexibility ceilings. Similarly, joint flexibility peaks though range of motion can still improve gradually long-term.
  • New activity introductions. Your surgeon clears you to return to favored sports/hobbies, perhaps still limited. Golf swings and casual tennis may be approved before running.
  • Occasional setbacks. Some pain or swelling after periods of overactivity is normal and should resolve quickly with rest/icing.


Every patient’s experience is unique depending on health status, procedure specifics and injury rehabilitation dedication. Most revisees can restore enjoyable quality of life around 6 months. But maximum medical improvement from more complex revisions can take over a year.

Through each recovery stage, staying on track with restrictions, therapy and follow-up appointments is essential for the best possible restoration of your mobility and freedom from joint pain after revision surgery.

As a renowned orthopedic surgeon specializing in limb preservation, oncology and complex reconstruction procedures, Dr. Herrick J. Siegel has extensive experience helping patients restore mobility and quality of life through successful revision joint replacements.

If past joint replacements have failed you or existing problems limit your daily function, call Siegel Orthopaedics today, located in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Siegel’s skilled team can determine if a revision procedure may help get you moving.