Don’t Put Off Joint Replacement Surgery: Here’s Why
Chronic health conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone infections and fibromyalgia, can leave you with aching knees or hips, making a joint replacement your best option for treatment.
Joint replacement surgery involves removing all or part of an arthritic or damaged joint and installing hardware — known as a prosthesis — to allow the joint to move and fully function without pain. Most joint replacements last between 10 to 20 years, though some patients never require additional surgeries.
Orthopedic surgeons perform the procedure while you are under spinal or general anesthesia. You can typically resume some activity within three to six weeks after surgery, with full recovery a year after the procedure.
As one of the most successful interventions in modern medicine, joint replacements are common. More than 1 million total joint replacements are performed in the United States each year, and experts estimate a significant increase (up to 4 million annually) by 2030.
Common Joint Replacements
The most common joint replacements are in the knee and hip, with more than 700,000 knee replacements and 300,000 hip replacements performed in the United States each year. Shoulder replacement is the most common type of joint replacement in the upper body.
Though not as common, a prosthesis can be used in other joints of the body, including the ankle, elbow, fingers and wrist.
Why Have a Joint Replaced?
If you’re experiencing joint pain and limited range of motion, your doctor will explain the details of a joint replacement procedure and recovery period. Some hospitals offer joint replacement “boot camp,” where you learn what to expect from the procedure as well as your healing journey, including your hospital stay, physical therapy and pain management. You may also get to meet the post-procedure physical therapy team who can answer questions about rehabilitation.
Don’t Delay Your Surgery
Many people longing for relief from joint pain may be hesitant to undergo surgery and are worried about what recovery will be like. Work and family obligations are the most common reasons for delaying the procedure.
However, it is not wise to put off surgery, which can cause more issues, including:
- Further damage
- Increased stiffness
- Weakened muscles and other soft tissues surrounding the joint
All these can make your recovery more difficult and your surgery more complicated, so it’s best to move forward while learning all you can about what to expect from your procedure and recovery.
Recovery and rehabilitation period takes time as you learn to use the new joint and regain mobility. Once you’re on the road to recovery, the many benefits of joint replacement come into focus, including:
- Improved gait and posture
- Reduced pain
- Restored range of motion
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is getting back to doing the things you like to do, pain-free.
Thanks to advances in medicine, joint replacement is safer and more effective than ever before. If you’re considering joint replacement surgery, discuss it with your doctor.
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