For some people, aching hips or crackling knees means an end to favorite sports such as golf or cycling. For others, everyday activities like climbing stairs or walking the dog are painful. However it affects you, joint pain can keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Hip or knee pain can have a number of causes, including arthritis, injury, illness or simply getting older. Many people find relief through dietary changes, physical therapy or medication, but often that relief is short-lived. If debilitating pain returns after these treatments, it may be time consider replacing the worn-out joint.
Joint replacement surgery can eliminate pain, improve mobility and let you get back to your usual activities. During the procedure, an orthopedic surgeon replaces all or part of the damaged joint with an artificial implant. In recent years, new surgical techniques and technologically advanced materials have made hip replacement and knee replacement easier, safer and more effective than ever.
“The implants we use today are made of improved materials that are more durable and provide better range of motion, which means you can move comfortably without pain for 20 years or more,” said David Fabi, MD, a Scripps orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist. “Advanced techniques enable us to perform the procedure with outstanding precision, so the replacement joint mirrors your natural anatomy and movement.”
In many cases, orthopedic surgeons use minimally invasive surgical techniques, so patients have fewer and smaller incisions, less discomfort, a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.
Joint replacement surgery usually takes one to two hours. Following the procedure, most patients go home the same day or the next morning. You’ll be moving and walking around as soon as the first day after surgery. A physical therapist will start working with you to help you regain strength and mobility. Depending on your individual needs, you may have physical therapy in an outpatient center or follow an exercise plan at home. Generally, patients can resume low-impact activities within six months. Full recovery can take several months to a year.
According to Dr. Fabi, most patients have excellent results. “Most, if not all, of their pain and stiffness disappears and their mobility greatly improves,” he said. “It’s great to see them return to their usual activities without pain.”
If you’re living with knee or hip pain and nothing brings lasting relief, make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to find out if joint replacement is an option.