There are more than 1 million hip, knee, and shoulder replacements performed in the United States each year, but you may think you’re not ready for a joint replacement. You should know, however, that many people have found that joint replacement surgery provides a better quality of life than simply dealing with the chronic aches and pains, as well as the stiffness and swelling, that degenerated joints create.
Even though these surgeries are common, there are still many misconceptions out there about the procedure and recovery process, making people fear the surgery more than necessary.
That why we at the Austin Shoulder Institute have gathered some important facts you should know about joint replacement surgery. We aim to help you understand all aspects of the procedure and the benefits it can bring.
Joint replacement removes the damaged joint
During a joint replacement surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon removes all of the damaged bone, cartilage, and ligaments from your degenerative joint, replacing them with an artificial joint made of plastic and metal.
Because it’s a total joint replacement, once you’re healed, those aches and pains you had before the surgery are gone. Your joint no longer swells or becomes still. It moves with ease, and you can again engage in the things pain was keeping you from enjoying.
Joint replacement surgery is easier with preparation
To ensure the best outcomes from your joint replacement surgery, we recommend that you spend at least six weeks preparing for your procedure.
During this preparation period, you can strengthen the muscles surrounding your bad joint so that after your procedure, they offer better support and stabilization. The more you can expand the range of motion of your arthritic joint, the better it is post-surgery, as your muscles, tendons, and ligaments can stretch and move more fluidly than they would without this strengthening preparation.
In addition, we recommend that you quit smoking cigarettes, which improves how well your body can heal itself. If you’re overweight, we may suggest you try to lose some weight, which helps put less stress on your body and the new joint during recovery.
You get up and move the day after joint replacement surgery
While joint replacement is a major surgical procedure, you’re not allowed to just lie around afterward. For example, by the day after your hip or knee surgery, often times even the same day, we get you up and taking steps. Expect to go anywhere from 10-200 feet on your first attempt.
To get the most from your procedure, you must engage in physical therapy and exercises. Being sedentary not only slows your healing, but it can increase your risk for complications.
That’s why we recommend doing physical therapy multiple times a week for at least six weeks and exercising twice a day at home. With the proper care and activity, your joint replacement heals more quickly than you thought possible.
Most patients would do it again
For most patients, joint replacement surgery is a life-changing procedure. When bad joints make it difficult and painful to perform everyday activities — such as climbing stairs, reaching for an item, or getting out of bed — it stops you from doing the things you love. You may no longer ride your bike or travel to the soccer fields to watch your grandchild play ball.
Yet, after joint replacement surgery, you can live again. Your joints don’t ache, and you can move them without issue, meaning those activities you had to let go because of pain can come back in your life.
Deciding to have joint replacement surgery requires careful consideration. The team at Austin Shoulder Institute can answer any questions and address any concerns you have, so schedule a consultation today.
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