Is pain slowing you down? If chronic joint pain is interfering with your everyday activities such as walking, exercising, doing your chores and working, you may be a candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery.
“Pain is the number one indicator of possible problems with the hip or knee,” says Rafael Fernandez-Soltero, MD. “Your body will tell you when it is time to consider having your hip or knee replaced.”
What symptoms am I having that may eventually lead to hip or knee replacement?
Persistent pain. If you’re experiencing two or more of the below, it may be time to talk to your doctor
• daily pain that does not resolve with medical treatment or therapy
• progressive pain that stops you from working or enjoying daily activitie
• soreness that causes you to avoid going outside your home with friends and family
• pain that interferes with driving, walking or sleeping.
• discomfort that makes it difficult for you to dress or put on your socks or shoes.
Soltero adds “pain that causes you to feel like your world has become smaller because of it” may be another indicator. Hip or knee replacement should not be your first choice of treatment. Alternatives to consider could include:
• weight loss and exercise
• physical therapy
• assistive devices like a cane, walker or crutches
• prescription medicines or joint injections.
Should you qualify for hip or knee surgery, the process usually begins with a referral by your doctor to an orthopedic surgeon for an initial evaluation. “We’ll look at your medical history, exam, X-rays and response to conservative treatment,” says Soltero. “A recommendation will be made based on that criteria; if it’s determined you’re a candidate for surgery, we’ll work through the entire process—including before surgery, preparing for surgery, what happens during surgery and care after surgery—together.”
What is a knee or hip replacement?
Your hips and knees are the largest joints, support your body weight and work closely together so that you can perform many of your daily activities. Over time—and with wear-and-tear—many experience knee or hip pain, where physical therapy, pain medication and minor surgery provide some relief. When the hip and knee problems become inevitable, the hip or knee may need to be replaced.
“It’s our goal to make sure the entire surgical process for you feels seamless,” says Soltero. “We strive to make your patient experience the best and safest by preparing you well for surgery, optimizing your post-operative care and providing a merit-based hospital short-stay discharge designed for each patient’s individual needs.”
What does recovery after hip or knee replacement look like?
“After surgery, it may take a while before you feel like yourself,” says Soltero. “This is totally normal; recovery is different for every person.” Typical post-operative things you may feel, include:
• pain or discomfort
• trouble sleeping
• low energy level
• little or no appetite.
“Your success with recovery largely depends on your commitment to follow the rehabilitation recommendations,” says Soltero. “Exercise to help reduce swelling and increase motion and strength is key.”
Recovery exercises will be given to you by your physical therapist or surgeon. Following your surgery, you will also have your first follow-up appointment with your surgeon. During that time, you will likely go over items, such as how long you should be taking your prescribed medicines (i.e. pain or blood thinners) and when you can start taking showers, walking with assistive devices, driving a car and increasing leisure activities to name a few.
“More than 90 percent of people who have had joint replacement surgery experience dramatic reduction of joint pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform daily living activities,” says Soltero. “With appropriate modifications like low-impact activities, joint replacements can last for many years with an improved quality of life.”
If you think you may be a candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery, talk to your doctor.
To learn more about orthopedic services including hip and knee replacement and rehabilitation options through Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute-Faribault, visit allinahealth.org/districtone, click on “services” then “Orthopedic services.”