Joint replacement surgery isn't what you think.
Hips, knees and shoulders—they're the stuff of mobility and independence. Keeping them in tiptop condition is important.
"Something I often tell patients is that joint pain isn't a life-threatening problem, but a lifestyle-threatening problem," says Andrea Sadler, orthopaedic care coordinator and physical therapist at the Beaufort Memorial Joint Replacement Center. "When it affects your ability to do the things you like, then you should consider surgery as a possible treatment option."
If you're scheduled for joint replacement surgery, it's time to get your facts straight.
Myth: Surgery is for seniors
Fact: Candidates for new joints are as likely to be in their 50s as in their retirement years for a variety of reasons, including the prevalence of obesity and the rising number of weekend warriors. Luckily, technology is keeping up with the demand. Metals such as titanium and cobalt-chrome, better-engineered plastics and ceramic-bearing surfaces mean replacements last longer and offer better results.
Myth: The recovery time is too long
Fact: Most joint replacement patients leave the hospital in one to two days, Sadler says, and are back to their daily routines in one to three months. Physical therapy lasts anywhere from two to 12 weeks after surgery.
Myth: It's too painful
Fact: While surgery is uncomfortable, medication has come a long way in recent years. Joint injections during surgery help with localized pain control, for example, while anti-inflammatories, nerve-stabilizing medicines and short-acting narcotics (think morphine and Percocet) provide further relief.
"All these things in combination can really make the patient much more comfortable post-surgery than in years past," Sadler says.
To learn about the basics of joint replacement surgery, see Joint Replacement 101.