Orthopedics & Joint Care
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the question to see the answer.
When should I have surgery?
If you have difficulty walking or performing everyday activities, it may be time to consider joint replacement surgery. Our orthopedic surgeons will determine if you are a candidate based on your history, exam and x-rays.
You may want to ask yourself these questions:
- Is my current quality of life acceptable to me?
- Are there things that I enjoy doing that I don't do today because my knees or hips hurt too badly?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then perhaps you should consider joint replacement surgery.
What is joint replacement?
In the total joint replacement procedure, the arthritic or damaged joint surfaces are removed and replaced with smooth, artificial surfaces. These artificial surfaces are called "implants" or "prostheses." The implants are specifically designed to restore smooth, low-friction movement. A total knee replacement is really a cartilage replacement with an artificial surface. The knee itself is not replaced, as is commonly thought, but rather an artificial substitute for the cartilage is inserted on the end of the bones. This creates a new, smooth cushion and a functioning joint that does not hurt.
What are the benefits?
The typical benefits of joint replacement surgery include pain relief, enhanced movement and mobility, and improved quality of life.
What is causing the pain in my knee or hip?
Joint cartilage is a tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones where joints are located and helps cushion the bones during movement. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a wear-and-tear condition that destroys joint cartilage. Sometimes as the result of trauma, repetitive movement or for no apparent reason, the cartilage wears down. This can occur quickly over months or develop over a number of years. Cartilage destruction can result in painful bone-on-bone contact, along with swelling and loss of motion.
Am I too old?
Age is generally not a factor if you are in reasonable health and have the desire to continue living a productive, active life.
How long will my implant last?
The longevity of joint implants varies from patient to patient. All implants have a limited life expectancy depending on an individual's age, weight, activity level and medical condition(s). While it is important to follow all of your surgeon's recommendations after surgery, there is no guarantee that your particular implant will last for any specific length of time.
Should I exercise before surgery?
Yes—consult your surgeon and physical therapist about the exercises appropriate for you.
How long will I be in the hospital?
On average, total joint replacement surgery patients are hospitalized for two to three days. Your surgeon, along with the team of skilled nurses and physical and occupational therapists, will work with you to achieve your discharge goals, so that you can return home as soon as possible.
Where will I go after discharge?
The majority of patients go directly home after discharge. Some patients may transition to a sub-acute facility prior to returning home independently. Your surgeon and hospital staff will help you with this decision and make the appropriate arrangements.
Will I need help at home?
Yes, for the first one to two weeks, depending on your progress, we recommend having someone to assist you with meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, etc.
Is physical therapy necessary?
It is generally recommended to continue physical therapy for advancement of your exercises during postoperative rehabilitation. As each patient varies, so will the level of intervention needed.
How often do I need to see my physician after surgery?
Your first office visit will be one to two weeks after discharge. You will be seen for further follow-ups as required by your orthopedic surgeon. Typically, these will be one month, three months, and one year after surgery. Checkups will follow every one to two years thereafter.
What kind of activities can I pursue?
You are encouraged to regularly participate in moderate intensity, low-impact exercise to maintain your fitness and health of the tissues around your new joint(s). Activities may include walking, dancing, golf, hiking, swimming, bowling and gardening.
When will I be able to go to work?
The timing of your return will depend on your work duties, as well as your commitment to recovery. Patients with more sedentary jobs often return in three to four weeks, while those with more strenuous jobs may require more time away from work.
How long before I can drive?
The ability to drive depends on several factors, such as narcotic use, which leg you had surgery on, vehicle size and transmission type. You should not drive until cleared by your surgeon.
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