Considering joint replacement surgery is an important step toward living a pain-free life, but the days and weeks leading up to your surgery can be filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
Our team of expert surgeons at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre wants to address your concerns, answer your questions, and eliminate some of your worries long before you arrive for your surgery. Here’s everything you need to know about total joint replacement.
A closer look at the procedure
For each pound you weigh, your knee joints carry 4 pounds of pressure. That means a 150-pound person puts nearly 600 pounds on their joints. After years of working under that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder that your joints start to ache and eventually need to be replaced.
But knee joints aren’t the only victims of wear and tear. Hips and shoulders take their fair share over the years as well. Your body warns you that your joints are wearing down in many different ways. Here are some common signs that indicate you might need a joint replacement:
- Inability to complete daily tasks
- Severe, debilitating pain
- Failed treatments
- Advanced arthritis or joint damage
- Feeling physically and emotionally worn out
When you can’t ignore these warning signs any longer, total joint replacement surgery is often the solution to your pain and symptoms.
Total joint replacement surgery involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with man-made parts composed of metal, plastic, or ceramic. These manufactured joints move and function almost exactly like a healthy joint, so you can return to your favorite activities.
Your surgery can either be an inpatient or outpatient procedure and typically only takes about two hours. Most patients are required to do some physical therapy after surgery, so expect to stand and walk with assistance.
What to expect before your surgery
Many people don’t realize how important it is to prepare for surgery. You may not be thinking about exercise, but getting in good shape can lower your risk of complications and speed up your recovery. We provide you with some exercises you can do depending on which joint you’re replacing.
In addition to getting regular exercise before your surgery, note these other pre-op tips:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a balanced diet
- Don’t drink alcohol for 48 hours before surgery
Patients who are in good shape typically recover safely after six weeks, whereas unfit individuals may take up to three months to get back to everyday routines.
What to expect from your recovery
You may think the hard part is over once your surgical procedure is complete. However, the recovery phase is when most patients meet the greatest amount of challenges. Try your best to keep a positive attitude, and don’t be afraid to ask loved ones for help.
When you’re ready to go home after your surgery, you must have a caregiver available to help you with daily tasks for the first two weeks of recovery. We also send you home with required at-home physical therapy routines. You should complete these three times a week for the first two weeks.
We also encourage you to purchase a variety of tools to help make your recovery the easiest possible. Some products we find help our patients most during recovery include:
- A walker or cane
- Handlebars for the bathroom
- A shoehorn with a long handle and a sock aid
- A long-handled gripper to help pick things up from the floor
It can be discouraging to adapt to a different way of doing things during your recovery, but keep in mind that this is just temporary, and being deliberate and gentle in your movements is vital to ensuring a healthy recovery.
If you’re facing total joint replacement and you’d like more information, call our office in The Woodlands, Texas. You can also schedule an appointment online to get started.