Medically Reviewed by Chad Thurman, DO
How do you know when it’s time for a knee or hip joint replacement? What type of procedure will your surgeon use? And what’s the recovery like? McLeod Orthopaedic Specialist Dr. Chad Thurman answers those questions in less than 3 minutes.
Here is a summary of Dr. Thurman’s explanation:
Benefits of the direct anterior approach are a faster recovery, less pain and fewer long-term problems, including hip dislocations, which have been really dramatically reduced due to the anterior approach.
Unfortunately, the anterior approach has a limitation in in certain people. With very muscular people or people that have a large amount of abdominal fat, we are concerned about wound complications. So, in those people who need revision surgery from prior surgery, it’s really safer done through a posterior or traditional approach.
When you’re considering any kind of joint replacement, the best thing to do is come in and discuss it with your orthopedic surgeon. There are a lot of non-operative treatments that are out there, most of which we do here in clinic, but it needs to be a discussion that is handled as a team between you and your surgeon where you decide whether or not hip or knee replacement is right for you.
I always tell my patients, there are 3 criteria for knowing when it’s time for a knee replacement. The first is that they have imaging or x-rays that show disease which is bad enough to warrant surgery. Second, they failed all the conservative care, and third and most importantly, they tell me, “Dr. Thurman, I’m really at a point now where the pain is taking away my quality of life and I can no longer live like this.”
The recovery for knee replacement is somewhere between 3 and 6 months for total recovery. The first 2 weeks are the most difficult. They involve healing from surgery, controlling pain, and completing therapy. After about 6 weeks of therapy, most people are on their way to full recovery. But we really see that last bit of recovery occur in the final 3 to 6 months.
Recovering from knee replacement surgery does involve modifying your lifestyle. I’ve always said, especially to active joggers, it’s not best to be running on an implant. We encourage people to stay active. However, they usually shift from high-impact exercise to things like bicycling, swimming, ellipticals or weight training.
Hip or knee joint replacement surgery is a very personal thing and it’s something that should be discussed between you and your surgeon. There are options, including different approaches to hip replacement surgery that are best discussed with you and your surgeon. There also are partial and total knee replacements. Those conversations depend on what your x-rays show, where your pain is and what kind of treatment you’ve tried.