For many patients, the actual surgery involved with Knee or Hip Joint replacement is the easiest part. After all, you’re asleep. Your Orthopedic Surgeon and his team are doing the work.
Before you consider joint replacement surgery is needed, there is much your Orthopedic team can do to help improve your quality of life.
BEFORE JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY
“The first and simplest step you should consider is using over-the-counter medication (aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen or Aleve),” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Rodney Alan, MD. “You hear a lot about side effects of medication, but — as long as you take the medicines as recommended for over-the-counter pain meds — the risks of problems are extremely low.”
According to Dr. Alan, the next “non-surgical option is resting the joint, taking care of your joints and making sure your joints are well conditioned. Just like in sports, every day you train, every day you stretch, and every day you warm up. Just don’t overdo it.”
Other options include physical therapy or injections of steroids or material that helps lubricate the knee or hip joint.
“All of these non-surgical treatments are simply trying to avoid the pain and limited function, which are associated with joint deterioration,” adds Dr. Alan.
WHY KNEES & HIPS?
The majority of joint replacements performed in America are hip and knee replacements.
“The knee and hip are the joints that most commonly need replacement, because they are the weight bearing joints,” explains Dr. Alan. “Standing from a seated position, walking or going up and down stairs – a lot of force is transmitted across the knees and hips during simple routine activities we do each day.”
AFTER JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY
If the non-surgical treatments do not provide relief, then surgery can be the next step. Most patients find improved quality. However, Dr. Alan notes, ”An older person whose joint was worn-out experiences a significant improvement in quality of life.”
Expect your recovery from knee joint replacement surgery to take 2 to 3 weeks — slightly less for hip replacement surgery. If you have a desk job, your Orthopedic Surgeon may clear you to return to work in 3 weeks or so. If your job involves heavy lifting or labor, it may be 10 weeks before you return to work.
WHAT ABOUT EXERCISE?
“We don’t recommend running sports or sports that involve high levels of pivoting,” says Dr. Alan. “We wouldn’t recommend football or baseball at a high, competitive level. But you can certainly play catch with your kids. We encourage walking, cycling, and swimming after a hip or knee replacement.”
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