Joint replacement surgery is a procedure that involves an orthopedic surgeon removing a part of or all of the arthritic or damaged joint and replacing it with prosthetic components to relieve pain, restore normal joint function, and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Also referred to as arthroplasty, joint replacement surgery is typically a last-resort intervention, often recommended for patients whose symptoms (e.g., joint pain, stiffness, restricted mobility, etc.) continue unabated despite an extensive course of conservative treatment.
If your joint pain has interfered with your quality of life and you’re contemplating getting joint replacement surgery to address it altogether, here’s what you need to know about the procedure, particularly how to prepare for it and what the entire recovery phase entails.
Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery
All types of surgeries come with risks, so make sure to discuss these with your orthopedic surgeon.
To get you adequately prepared for your procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will provide you with detailed preoperative instructions that you need to follow to minimize your risk of complications.
Certain exercises may be recommended before your surgery, such as those that enhance your lower body strength, if you need to use crutches or a walking aid following your surgery. Low-impact exercise (e.g., swimming and walking) prior to your surgery can help improve your overall health and fitness as well as ensure a quick recovery.
Your orthopedic surgeon may have you work with a physical therapist, who can customize an exercise plan for you in the days leading up to your procedure.
Here are some tips to ensure your recovery from joint replacement surgery is as safe, comfortable, and successful as possible:
- Give up smoking.
Smoking increases your risk of complications (e.g., blood clots, necessity for revision joint replacement, infection, delayed wound healing, etc.) during and after surgery.
- Get yourself organized in advance.
Advanced planning can help to reduce stress and other problems. Stock up your pantry and organize premade meals prior to your surgery. If you are going to be taking extended time off work, plan ahead to avoid returning to a backlog of tasks.
- Ask for help.
If you live alone, ask for help from a relative or friend, particularly to assist you when you come out of hospital, as you will need to rest, and certain activities will apparently be difficult to do yourself.
If you have kids, factor in child care and help with extracurricular activities while you are recovering and unable to drive.
- Get your home ready.
Place things you use regularly within easy reach, to prevent bending, stretching, or injuring your new joint.
If you sleep upstairs, consider setting up a temporary bedroom on the ground floor. It also greatly helps to declutter and install fall-prevention devices (e.g., grab bars, fall mats, etc.) to ensure your safety.
Recovering from Your Surgery
Your surgeon and physical therapist will discuss which activities are safe for you to do. Make sure to follow all of the postoperative instructions your care team will give you.
Depending on your type of surgery, you will likely have to temporarily modify the way you do certain activities involving the affected area, such as bending down following hip surgery or restricting arm movements following shoulder surgery. You may not be able to drive or take part in sports for many weeks, and you may need to avoid certain activities permanently in order to ensure the longevity of your new joint.
The total recovery time after a total joint replacement can take several months or even up to a year, depending on the type of joint replacement you’ve had, your health, and other factors.
Joint replacement surgeries have fairly high success rates, with up to 90 percent of patients reporting significant improvement in their mobility and function, and quality of life years or even decades following the procedure.
Joint Replacement in Watertown, NY
If you are suffering from intractable joint pain and would like to find out whether you’re eligible for joint replacement surgery, visit us here at North Country Orthopaedic Group for a comprehensive evaluation with one of our highly qualified orthopedic surgeons. We have performed numerous successful joint replacement surgeries, and we take pleasure in providing you with all the information that you need to know about the procedure, so you can make the best decisions about your care.