What to expect from joint replacement surgery
You and your doctor tried everything, but the pain in your knee, hip or shoulder won’t go away. You can’t sleep through the night and you can no longer do the things you love to do.
It may be time to consider one last option – a joint replacement.
Joint replacement surgery is always a last resort, but it’s an option that can give relief to those who suffer continual pain and loss of motion despite more traditional therapies. The need for joint replacement becomes necessary when, because of injury, arthritis or other diseases, the cartilage that cushions the meeting point between two bones wears away. The result is bone against bone – and pain.
The decision to undergo a joint replacement should be made only after getting all the facts from your doctor. Your age, activity level and medical condition will all be considered.
If you do opt for a joint replacement, here are a few things to know:
- First, the goal of surgery is to relieve pain. This is done by replacing the damaged cartilage with artificial surfaces like metal or plastic. The replacement cushions the ends of the bones and allows greater movement without pain.
- After surgery, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy to make sure your new joint functions as intended. Recovery time varies from person to person and according to the type of surgery, but expect it to last several weeks.
- Depending on the joint replaced, your doctor will advise you against certain activities, at least at first. A hip or knee replacement may require the temporary use of a walker and safety features in high risk areas, like showers. If you’ve had a shoulder replacement, you probably will need to wear a sling for a few weeks. All recoveries will require you to make adjustments in your daily life. Friends and family members can be especially helpful during this time.
While it will take hard work to make the most of your new joint, the effort will be worth it. Eventually, you will more than likely be able to return to your regular activities — and a pain-free, better quality of life.