Hip and knee replacement are two of the most performed operations in orthopedic surgery. Both procedures are remarkably successful at eliminating pain, correcting deformity, and improving patient mobility so patients can regain quality of life and get back to the activities they enjoy.

But joint replacement should be a final step in treatment. Other treatments are often suggested before joint replacement are:

  • Using anti-inflammatory medications
  • Losing weight (if needed) to ease stress on the joint
  • Cutting back on activities that cause pain (REMOVE)
  • Doing exercises to keep muscles and joints flexible, promote fitness, and strengthen muscles that support damaged joints
  • Injections, usually starting with corticosteroids and possibly hyaluronic acid (ADD)

How do you know when you need surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is elective surgery meant to improve pain, function, and quality of life. Because of that, when conservative treatments (as mentioned above) are no longer providing you the relief needed to maintain your lifestyle, it may be time to consider surgery. X-rays will show the degree of arthritis and your doctor will notify you if you are a candidate.

Consider joint replacement surgery if you have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Severe pain during activity, such as walking
  • Pain that stops you from doing activities you enjoy
  • Pain at night that prevents you from sleeping
  • Instability which places you at risk for falls

What can you expect?

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure where all or part of an arthritic or damaged joint are removed and replaced with metal, plastic, and/or ceramic devices called a prostheses or implants. The prosthesis is designed to reproduce the shape and motion of the normal joint. This surgery usually involves a 1-2 day hospital stay but as many as 30% of our patients are able to return home on the same day as their surgery. All hip and knee patients can walk and place all their weight on their operative leg the day of surgery. Physical therapy is an integral part of your recovery and may continue for 2 to 3 months.

All patients use a walker, for balance, during the days to weeks following surgery, but most people are walking on their own without any assistive devices within 2 to 3 weeks. Within one month, most patients are back to daily activities and with 2 to 3 months, you should be able to return to most of your active hobbies.

Full recovery from joint replacement surgery can take up to a year, but the majority of pain is greatly improved by the end of the first month.

How long will a new knee or hip last?

An artificial joint will eventually change from wear and tear, even under normal use and activity conditions. With newer technology, artificial joints are now lasting 25-30 years, or possibly longer. Keeping a healthy weight and avoiding high impact activities (running) can help the implant last as long as possible. A person who is younger at the time of the surgery may eventually need to have the new joint replaced again.

If you are experiencing hip or knee pain or discomfort, call us at 512-454-4561 or request an appointment online.

Additional Information

Knee replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery

Common hip problems

Common knee problems

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