Is Total Joint Replacement Right for You?
Answers to five common questions
BY HANNAH ROPP
Knee and hip pain due to injury or osteoarthritis can become a daily ordeal – but is total joint replacement surgery right for you? Five Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) orthopedic surgeons, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Coordinated Health, share what to consider and expect.
How do I know if I need joint replacement surgery?
Once diagnostic tests confirm osteoarthritis, nonsurgical options such as weight loss, physical therapy, pain medication and joint injections may help. “Joint replacement is the last option to consider after first trying more conservative measures,” says orthopedic surgeon Prodromos Ververeli, MD. Does joint pain diminish quality of life? Regularly cause sleep loss? Impair normal function or activities, including work and recreation? If so, surgery may be called for.
Am I too old (or young) for surgery?
Many people get total joint replacement surgery in their 60s or older after a lifetime of joint wear and tear. “But age isn’t the most important consideration,” says orthopedic surgeon Eric Lebby, MD. “A younger person can be a candidate if joint damage is significant enough.” In older people, overall health and ability to recover counts more than age.
What happens during joint replacement surgery?
A surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone, and replaces them with prosthetic components designed to relieve pain and restore function. “A variety of specialized tools and technologies allow us to precisely adapt the implant to each person’s anatomy to maximize function after surgery,” says orthopedic surgeon Wayne Luchetti, MD.
Where will my surgery take place?
Your surgery will take place at either LVH–Cedar Crest, LVH–Muhlenberg, LVHN–Tilghman, CH–Bethlehem or CH–Allentown. All of these locations have strict protocol in place like temperature screenings, social distancing measures and increased cleaning and disinfecting to protect our patients and staff from COVID-19.
What happens after joint replacement surgery?
Your doctor will encourage you to start using the new joint as soon as possible – sometimes the same day as surgery. “With modern pain protocols and surgical techniques, patients are commonly walking and full weight bearing a few hours after surgery. Specific therapy exercises are initiated and advanced to regain strength and return to normal activities. ”says orthopedic surgeon Tom Meade, MD.
How long will recovery take?
Everyone’s recovery is different. But most people return home in a day and can ride an exercise bike within two weeks. “Pain immediately after surgery is often less than prior pain from arthritis,” says orthopedic surgeon Jonathon Brown, DO. After recovering with help from physical therapy and exercise, most people can return to normal, pain-free activities within eight to twelve weeks.
How is joint pain impacting your life? Learn what your next steps may be at LVHN.org/jointpain.