Joint replacement, such as knee or hip, is a major surgery. You may be wondering how you’ll ever get back on your feet again. It’s important to know that your recovery is equally as important as the procedure. If you’re on the fence about the procedure, know there is help with recovery. Learn some of the common misconceptions about joint replacement surgery to assist in your decision.

If your knees or hips are causing you constant pain, you may have thought about undergoing surgery to have them replaced. But are myths about joint replacement holding you back? We asked Michael Bloomfield, MD, about the most common misconceptions.

image of an older man sitting on a bench contemplating

Myth: I should wait until I can’t walk to consider surgery.

One good way to tell if you should start thinking about surgery is if your pain affects your daily routine, Dr. Bloomfield says.

“In the meantime, do reasonable things to address the problem. This can include steps such as taking anti-inflammatory medications if medically appropriate and modifying your activity,” Dr. Bloomfield says. “But when symptoms interfere with your life, or when pain keeps you up at night, it’s time to see an orthopaedic specialist.”

Myth: I’m too young/old for joint replacement.

There is no age requirement for joint replacement. With improved implant technology, younger patients have less risk of needing repeat surgeries due to parts wearing out.

“Age is not a cut-off in and of itself,” Dr. Bloomfield says. “There are 90-year- olds in better physical condition than some 60-year-olds. When your independence is threatened or you can no longer retain an active lifestyle, the time is right.”

Myth: I’ll have permanent restrictions after surgery.

With proper therapy, most people can achieve a higher level of function than before surgery. Dr. Bloomfield cautions against running long distances. But he encourages activities like bicycling and swimming, which have less impact on joints.

Myth: I’ll be in excruciating pain and unable to return home after surgery.

While it’s unrealistic to expect no pain after surgery, postsurgical pain should be on the low end of the scale, Dr. Bloomfield says. Also, proper anesthesia control during surgery helps to address a patient’s post-surgical pain, he says.

Today, most patients return home within two days after surgery and complete their rehabilitation there.

Myth: It doesn’t matter who does my surgery.

Studies show patients get the best outcomes when their procedure is handled by a surgeon who does a high number of the procedure at a medical facility that also handles a high volume of such surgeries.

“Find a surgeon you trust, and remember that experience counts. You never get a second chance to make it right the first time,” Dr. Bloomfield says.

For proper replacement recovery, your rehabilitation begins almost immediately when you wake up from surgery.

Your therapy team’s main priority in the first 24 hours is helping you stand and walk using assistive devices such as a walker, crutches or a cane. You can expect to remain in the hospital where your surgery took place for three to four days. When your physician determines you are ready to transition to another care setting for continued rehabilitation, such as an inpatient rehabilitation facility or home with home health.

Our therapists at Kindred work with you on strengthening your muscles and increasing range of motion, while your occupational therapist can help you address ways to get in and out of your bed or a chair and learn how to navigate your daily hygiene routine. From the time you begin more intensive rehabilitation on, you should have less pain and be feeling more independent as each week passes, if you remain consistent with your treatment plan.

If you have questions about joint replacement recovery, call us at 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

This article was written by Bone, Muscle & Joint Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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