Understanding total joint replacement
Total joint replacement removes the cartilage and damaged bone and installs a prosthetic joint. The replacement joint is a metal-on-plastic or metal-on-ceramic ball and liner. In the past, surgeons performed open surgeries, large incisions to remove and replace the joint. Today, minimally invasive surgery uses just a few minor incisions. There have even been technological advancements, namely robotic surgery, that improves speed and accuracy. Even though surgery is an excellent solution, there are 3 vital factors all potential patients must know.
1. Your health determines if surgery is even possible
Unfortunately, not everyone is an ideal candidate for surgery. The patient should be in relatively good health to endure the stress of a joint replacement. Before any surgery happens, the team will do a comprehensive health check. If specific markers are off, the surgery will not proceed. For instance, a low hemoglobin level can be dangerous. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic diseases are considered high-risk delayed recovery. The surgeon will address these diagnoses before agreeing to perform a total joint replacement surgery.
2. Exercise and physical therapy help before surgery
For ideal candidates, exercise and physical therapy will be vital after surgery. However, starting well before the procedure can make things go much smoother. Strengthening the knee or hip muscles before surgery significantly reduces the risk of complications. Patients can also recover faster by knowing the best exercises in advance. Exercise improves overall health, making surgery that much more successful.
3. Complete recovery can take up to a year
Minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery have reduced the recovery timeline. Some patients can begin light walking just days after surgery. On average, the surgeon will estimate 3 months before activities like work, light sports, and driving are possible again. However, that does not stop means the recovery process is over. Patients will still experience pain and discomfort, especially with prolonged use. Exercise and physical therapy will help regain mobility and strength, which can take up to a year.
The more you know, the better
Knowing the basics about joint replacement surgery can help future patients make the right decisions. Minimally invasive means have improved the standard, success rate, and recovery process. However, that does not mean there aren’t risks, patient requirements, and future obstacles. The best way to get all the details is to schedule a consult with an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon will cover all the basics to make a total hip or knee replacement as smooth as possible.