When is the right time to pursue total joint replacement?
Only you and your doctor can come to the conclusion of whether or not a joint replacement is the right treatment for your pain. There are many factors that can influence the appropriateness of a total joint replacement for your needs. Some things that may indicate that a total joint arthroplasty may be appropriate for you are:
- Severe pain or stiffness that limits everyday activities
- Moderate pain while resting or sleeping
- Chronic inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest
- Failure of other pre-surgical treatments
While historically it has been recommended that patients wait as long as possible before undergoing a total hip replacement, recent studies have shown that it is beneficial to pursue total hip replacement earlier. Younger patients with less-advanced arthritis have been shown to have reduced complication rates and improved results, but again, only you and your doctor can decide what is best for you. 1,2,3
Are all hip replacement techniques the same?
Talk to your doctor about the number of these procedures performed at the hospital, and how routine this procedure is for them.
Ask about the approach used for your total hip replacement. Minimally invasive surgical approaches, like MicroPort Orthopedics’ SuperPATH® and the Direct Anterior technique, have been shown to significantly decrease readmission rates, decrease the length of stay, and increase the frequency with which patients are discharged home. The SuperPATH® approach allows the surgeon to preserve a lot of the muscles that are valuable for fast and effective recovery. Surgeon’s that utilize SuperPATH® technique for total hip arthroplasty have seen the following trends in their patients:
- Reduction of the length of stay in the hospital
- Over 91% of patients discharged directly to home
- Reduced rate of blood transfusions
- Reduced rate of readmission for complications
Ask your surgeon about the superior approach for total hip replacement, SuperPATH®. 4,5,6
How can I prepare for a total hip replacement?
If you and your surgeon decide that total hip replacement is the right path for you, preparation begins with you and at home. A healthier lifestyle can lessen the chance of complications and aid in recovery. Maintaining a well-balanced diet, minimizing behaviors such as smoking and drinking, and beginning a work-out regimen prior to your operation can help prepare your body for surgery. Additionally, there are several things that can be done to prepare your home for life immediately following your hip surgery:
- Arrange your transportation to and from your surgery
- Prepare meals ahead of time to minimize the need for cooking/cleaning
- Place regularly used items at heights that are convenient
- If you plan to use a walker or cane, practice in your home prior to surgery to make sure your home is easily navigated with these aids.
- Place safety railings on stairs, showers, and bathrooms to help you navigate these areas
- Remove loose carpeting, cords, and other tripping hazards
- A stable chair for your early recovery with a firm seat cushion (and a height of 18 to 20 inches), a firm back, two arms, and a footstool for intermittent leg elevation
- Prepare a temporary living area on the same floor, to minimize your need to use stairs
It is important to understand the risks and potential complications involved with your hip replacement. You and your doctor should discuss these risks and how they could potentially affect you. Similarly, you should also discuss your medical history and lifestyle to see what you can do to minimize these risks.7
What can I expect before/during/after surgery?
Discussing and managing expectations after surgery with your surgeon is very valuable and has been shown to have the biggest impact on patient satisfaction8. Knowing what to expect immediately before, during, and after your surgery can greatly aid in recovery. Talk to your surgeon about what to expect during your stay in the hospital, from before until after surgery:
- When and where should I arrive?
- What should I bring?
- How long should I expect the surgery to take?
- What kind of anesthesia is used? How long will it last?
- How much pain can I expect and how will it be managed?
- When will I go home?
- What will my rehabilitation be like? When will it start?
- When can I return to normal activities?
- Who do I contact if I have a problem?
What can I do to ensure the longevity of my joint replacement?
While implant technologies have improved greatly and survivorship is very high, the longevity of the implants varies from patient to patient. In addition to the preoperative activities you can do to yield better results, there are steps that can be taken after surgery to help your implant last as long as possible. Discuss these factors with your surgeon:
- Follow your surgeons instructions
- Adhere to rehabilitation and follow-up schedules
- Stay active and healthy
- Avoid heavy lifting and pushing
- Avoid long periods of squatting, kneeling, or using low seating surfaces
- Take your time when standing up and sitting down