What to Expect with Total Knee and Hip Joint Replacement
Joint pain — it can be a significant challenge to daily living. Constant discomfort, pain, and stiffness in the joints may prevent you from performing everyday routines or enjoying leisure activities.
The good news is that a number of treatments exist for joint pain, including medication, physical therapy, and steroid injections. However, when joint pain cannot be relieved through these methods, you may need total joint replacement surgery, such as hip, knee, or shoulder replacement surgery.
Here’s what you need to know about total joint replacement surgery, including what to expect from initial diagnosis through recovery.
When Do You Need Total Joint Replacement?
If you’re experiencing constant joint pain in your knee, hip, or shoulder, it’s time to talk with an orthopaedic surgeon. Eric Sides, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Sun City Orthopaedics and Hand Surgery Specialists, regularly performs total joint replacement surgeries. “I want to help fix the problem so patients can get back to their daily activities, whether that’s work, sports, or other activities,” he said.
Total joint replacement surgery involves resurfacing or replacing a damaged joint — such as a knee, hip, or shoulder. Thanks to advances in surgical technology, it has become a more common practice; however, it should still be a last resort when other treatments are no longer helping.
Dr. Sides and the team at Sun City Orthopaedics work closely with patients to evaluate when surgery is the right option. When you meet with your doctor, they’ll walk through the following questions with you to determine whether you should consider total joint replacement.
1. Is your joint pain the result of an injury or due to a disease, like arthritis?
2. Is your joint pain limiting daily activities, such as walking or bending for the knee and hip joints, or reaching or lifting for shoulder joints?
3. Do you experience stiffness that limits your ability to move the joint?
4. Do you feel constant pain in the joint, even while you are resting?
If you answered yes, and other treatments have not provided relief, you may be a candidate for joint surgery. Your orthopaedic surgeon will perform a physical exam, take X-rays, and review your medical history to get a full picture of your health before confirming your surgery.
How to Prepare for Surgery
When it’s time for you to undergo total joint replacement surgery, your doctor and health care team will prepare you for what to expect. It’s important to bring any questions you have when you meet with your surgeon ahead of time.
The following steps will also help you prepare for surgery:
1. Continue any current physical therapy. Don’t stop just because you’re about to have surgery. In fact, continuing to move and exercise the joint carefully can help with your recovery process. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate exercises for you.
2. Review any medications you’re taking with your doctor. They will advise you on which medication you should continue with or stop taking ahead of surgery.
3. Make any necessary home modifications to help with your recovery. This might include installing handrails or safety bars in your bath or shower, ensuring you have a firm and comfortable chair for resting and support, and removing any obstacles that may keep you from easily moving about your home.
What to Expect from the Surgery and Recovery
Surgical options can vary depending on your specific case. You may be admitted to the hospital or you might be released the same day as your surgery. Your doctor will let you know in advance.
During surgery, you will be under anesthesia while your surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone before positioning the new replacement implant made of plastic, ceramic, or metal. The surgery typically lasts one to two hours. Afterward, you’ll be closely monitored as you come out of anesthesia. The extent of the surgery will determine whether you stay overnight or are released the same day. From there, recovery continues at home.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will advise you on steps to take to aid the recovery process. This advice may include
1. Prescribed medication for pain management following surgery.
2. Instructions for resting the joint, which may include regular icing of the joint to help with any swelling post-surgery.
3. Plans for exercising the joint, a critical component of recovery. It is important to move the joint while slowly building back up to your regular activities.
4. Directions for physical therapy as your joint strengthens.
Follow the directions from your orthopaedic surgeon closely to help with healing so you can get back to your daily activities as soon as you are able!
If you’re ready to explore whether total joint replacement is an option for you, contact us to schedule an appointment. We’re ready to help you find relief from the pain.