6 Things You Should Know about Joint Replacements

With better treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the last 20 years, joint replacements have dropped significantly. A California study done on people with this condition found that knee replacements decreased by 19 percent while hip replacements dropped by 40 percent among people in their 40s and 50s. The rate, however, stays the same for people who are above 60 years old. Below is a compilation of facts that you must know if you’re undergoing joint replacement surgery.

You can walk sooner than you think
Most people think that after a joint replacement surgery, it would take weeks or months before one can walk again. That’s not true. In some cases, patients are able to take a few steps from about 10 to 200 feet on the same day as surgery. For other patients, it’s the day after. Rate of recovery depends on the person’s physical condition and overall health. Most people are advised to stay active since being sedentary increases risk of blood clot, pneumonia, and bed sores.

It’s a must to get physical therapy
Even though you can walk soon after the surgery, it doesn’t mean you can forgo physical therapy. Physical therapy weeks and months after the surgery is essential for full recovery. After you leave the hospital, you’ll need to see your physical therapist a couple of times a week for the first two months. It’s also a must to practice the exercises instructed for you twice a day on your own.

Knuckles can be replaced
Hips and knees are the most common areas for joint replacements, especially for rheumatoid arthritis. But you should know that your surgeon can also replace other joints like shoulders, ankles, and yes, even your finger joints or knuckles. Knuckle replacements first started in the 1950s since hands are some of the first areas that are affected by RA. RA causes pain, deformity, and loss of mobility on the hands.

Pain is manageable
Surgery-related pain can be unbearable for some, and tolerable for others. If your pain threshold is not so strong, your doctor would probably use a femoral nerve block, which is an anesthesia injection near the femoral nerve in the groin that is guided using ultrasound. About 70 percent of the pain after the surgery is relieved with this. Also, a dose of spinal morphine can be given for a hip surgery, and it gives relief for the next 30 hours. If you still feel pain after this, you can be given over-the-counter pain relief medications.

Losing weight can prevent need for joint replacement
Various studies have shown that people who are overweight or obese are 33 times more prone to joint replacement that people who are thinner. Also, they are more likely to undergo complications after the surgical procedure. Possible complications include loosened joints, difficulty walking, and infections.

Artificial joints can wear out
Some artificial joints last for up to 15 years, some even last longer for up to 25 years. But there is also the possibility for the artificial joint to wear out sooner than you think. If this happens, you might need to have another joint replacement surgery.

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