Considering a Joint Replacement? Examining Myth from RealityJune 16, 2016
If your hips or knees have been causing you pain, you may have considered joint replacement surgery. Many patients put off a consultation for the surgery due to common myths they have heard. Here, Vivek Shah, MD discusses a few of these myths to help you sift through reality and make an informed decision that’s right for you.
Myth: If I have joint replacement surgery, it will take me months to recover and get back on my feet.
While every recovery depends on the individual patient, the extent of arthritis and deformity as well as other medical factors, most patients leave the hospital after one or two days. Patients can be walking on the day of surgery, which helps with recovery and rehabilitation. Most patients return home to complete rehabilitation and physical therapy where they work on getting the motion, strength, stability and balance needed to return to activities.
Myth: I am an active person. If I have joint replacement surgery I won’t be able to exercise or participate in sports and other activities.
Joint replacement surgery helps patients get their movement back and return to the activities they enjoy, and most importantly resolves pain. With physical therapy most people can attain a high level of motion and activity. While you should always consult with a physician about what activities you can do, being active after surgery is encouraged. In general, lower impact activities such as swimming, biking, golfing and light/doubles tennis are preferable over high-impact activities such as jogging, racquetball and skiing after surgery.
Myth: Joint replacement surgery should only be considered as a last resort and I should wait until I can’t walk to have the procedure.
Conservative measures such as physical therapy, activity modification and injections are typically recommended before joint replacement surgery. If you have exhausted these measures and are still in pain and your quality of life is compromised, then it may be time to consider joint replacement.
Myth: I will need to have multiple surgeries because joint replacement implants do not last.
This may have been true in the past; however, advances in technology have improved joint replacement longevity and effectiveness. A new hip or knee implant can now last more than 20 years.
Myth: It doesn’t matter where I have my surgery or who does the procedure.
Experience counts when considering joint replacement surgery. Having surgery done at a facility that specializes in orthopedics and is recognized for high patient satisfaction, low infection rates and leadership in quality and clinical outcomes has been proven in multiple studies to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. When choosing a physician, find a trusted surgeon who specializes in joint replacement surgery and does a high volume of procedures per year. Patients get the best outcomes when their surgery is done by an experienced physician in a specialized facility.
If you are considering joint replacement surgery, consult with an orthopedic expert to discuss your questions and concerns. Don’t rush into surgery, take your time and evaluate what is right for you. Only you and your surgeon can decide when it’s time for a joint replacement.