17 Things To Know Before Joint Replacement Surgery

17 Things To Know Before Joint Replacement Surgery

Pain in the joints can be frustrating may cause changes in your routine–what was once easy to do for you may now become a lot more challenging due to joint pains. The pain in your joints is usually caused by destroyed or lost cartilage, which shields your knee’s bones.

The best way to do away with the pain is by having joint replacement surgery. This procedure involves replacing the damaged cartilage and bones in the joints by placing a sliding surface that’s made of plastic and metal.

But before you undergo a joint replacement surgery, there are several things that you need to know about. To help you better understand what to expect, here’s a guide by Altenburg Joint Replacement Surgery on what you should keep in mind before having a joint replacement surgery:

  1. Learn Everything There Is About the Procedure

It’s normal to be frightened before the surgery. Therefore, to help reduce this tension, it’s best to know everything involved during the joint replacement surgery. This means knowing what you should expect while recovering from the surgery, the kind of joints to pick from, and everything there is about the joint replacement surgery.

Here are other questions that you need to ask:

  • What is the kind of prosthesis or implant that will be used?
  • What should be done after being admitted to the hospital?
  • How long it takes to recover?
  • What’s the kind of anesthesia that’ll be used?
  • How to manage the pain after the surgery?

If you don’t understand anything, feel free to ask a healthcare professional since they’ll be more than willing to give you the answers.

  1. How Long It Takes to Get Used to The New Joints

The duration it takes to recover from a joint replacement surgery fully differs from one individual to another. Some patients are discharged a few hours after the surgery, while others need to remain in the hospital longer.

If you’ve just had a hip replacement surgery, for instance, you need between 8 to 12 weeks before you can start doing most of your duties. On the other hand, you’ll need more time to recover from knee replacement surgery, and 80% of the recovery will be realized after eight weeks. However, total recovery takes between 12 to 18 months.

During this time, it’s advisable to have someone by your side who helps you out since your movement will be largely limited. Hence, if your family members are unavailable, have a physical therapist and nurse occasionally come to your home to assess your progress. If there isn’t someone to look after you during this period, check in to a rehabilitation facility.

  1. Complications That Can Arise During the Procedure

Although there are minimal complications that are associated with joint replacement surgery, it’s still important to know about the different risks involved prior to the surgery. This is vital since this surgery either involves hip replacement or knee replacement. Since the surgery entails the detaching and reattaching of the limb, there are few risks involved.

The most common issues are:

  • Bleeding complications
  • Scar tissue build-up
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of range motion
  • Implant issues
  • Allergic reaction to the joint replacement items
  • Blood transfusion complications
  • Failure or issue with the implant
  • Nerve damage
  • Death

Therefore, you need to ask for guidance from your doctor to identify which of these symptoms you’re most likely to suffer.

  1. There Are Alternatives to Joint Replacement Surgery

It’s important to consider other options before you finally decide that joint replacement surgery is the solution to deal with joint pain. In fact, your doctor will advise you first to try the other methods before you opt for this invasive surgical treatment.

The options you should consider are:

  • Steroid injection
  • Physical therapy
  • Alternative treatments like acupuncture
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Get or hyaluronic injections
  • Losing weight if necessary

It’s after you’ve tried all these methods yet still don’t see any reduction in pain that you should consider joint replacement surgery.

  1. The Age That Joint Replacement Therapy Isn’t Advised

Whereas the implants placed in your joints are durable, they only last between 15 to 20 years before they start wearing out. For this reason, joint replacement surgery isn’t recommended for persons under 50 years since a joint replacement might be necessary at a future date. In addition, performing the second surgery will be a lot more complicated than the previous one.

The subsequent surgery takes a longer duration than the first one since it needs specialized tools and implants, longer operating times, and thorough planning. The professionals involved also need to have perfected their surgical skills to ensure nothing goes astray during the procedure.

Since you’re older, your body won’t be as strong as when you were younger. Therefore, it’s clear why this surgical procedure isn’t recommended for younger individuals.

  1. How Long Does Joint Replacement Surgery Take?

It usually takes one to three hours for the joint replacement surgery to be completed. During this time, the two-part prostheses get fixed with a mesh where a bone will eventually grow into or to the bone using epoxy cement.

Once that’s done, the surgeon severs the original femoral head using a reamer, drill, rasps, and power saw, followed by reshaping the cartilage before putting in a new piece of metal.

  1. The Hospital Where You’ll Be Operated And The Surgeon

The prospect of having surgery is scary, so you need to make sure that the hospital and the surgeon to carry the surgery are experienced for you to be at ease.

Hence, when deciding the surgeon to perform the procedure, make sure to go for one who’s experienced in joint replacement surgery instead of a general surgeon. Doing this is important and part of your due diligence. Other things you should know about the surgeon include their preferred surgical method and the number of years they’ve performed such procedures.

  1. The Type of Joint Material

Artificial joints are made from different materials, including metals, like ceramic, chrome, or titanium, and even plastic. These artificial joints, in most cases, are metal-on-plastic that has a plastic liner and a metal ball. Such joints are the most popular option because they guarantee to serve you for a longer duration.

You can also find a metal-on-metal joint, but this became less common following their recall in 2010 due to the discharge of metal ions into the bloodstream. There also ceramic-on-plastic liner and ceramic-on-ceramic, but the latter usually produces an annoying screech.

  1. Ways To Manage Pain

Prior to having joint replacement surgery, pain is a concern everyone has. While you’ll experience some pain, the team of medical experts will do their best to make sure it’s minimal and manageable. Before your surgery, they’ll inject you with a nerve block to minimize the pain and a long-acting local anesthetic that helps relieve pain even after the procedure.

Once your surgery has been successful, the next thing to do is managing the pain, which varies from one individual to another. Preventative measures are considered the best way to manage pain before it even starts. If you’re experiencing serious post-operative pain, which needs to be addressed immediately, opium pain medication is the best.

As you slowly recover following your surgery, the pain will continue to subside. How long this will take varies from one person to another, but, usually, the pain will still be felt months after the operation.

  1. Importance of Weight Loss

The risk of needing joint replacement surgery is higher in overweight people than skinnier individuals. In addition, obese persons are more prone to developing complications after the procedure, such as having a hard time walking after anesthesia, increased probability of the joints loosening later in the future, and susceptibility to disease.

Due to the negative effects of weight, some hospitals advise their patients first to lose weight before the joint replacement surgery is done. In some cases, weight loss can even delay or altogether prevent the need for surgery.

  1. Physical Therapy Is Essential

Once you’re out of the operation room, you need to constantly move around, which isn’t just during the first few days following the surgery. Instead, make sure to enroll in physical therapy sessions since the longer you move, the better the results.

Thus, once you’ve been discharged from the hospital, make sure to consult a physical therapist for the next six weeks a few times each week. You also need to do some exercises by yourself.

  1. Prepare Your Home

You’ll be less mobile after surgery, so there’s a need to rearrange your home to make sure you can easily move from one point to another.

You should start by confirming the hallway is clear to give you adequate room to walk with your clutches. Also, convert one of the rooms on the first floor to be your temporary bedroom to avoid the tedious task of walking on the flight of stairs.

Create a space where you intend to spend most of your time and with easy access to essentials, such as your phone, facial tissues, remote, medications, books, computer pitcher, glass, and anything else you might need. Take out all tripping hazards, like a loose carpet, and ensure the bathroom has been modified and has features such as a raised toilet seat, a gripping bar, and a shower chair.

  1. Steps To Prepare For Your Surgery

There are many healthcare professionals involved before you undergo your joint replacement procedure. You need to follow the instructions laid out by all these professionals and keep them updated on any new development. Moreover, make sure to carefully follow all the instructions you’re told before your surgery.

The steps you need to follow before your surgery include:

  • A detailed medical evaluation by your primary care doctor a few weeks before the procedure to gauge your overall health and anesthesia risk. The test results are then sent to the surgeon who’ll be conducting the operation.
  • Take numerous preoperative tests, such as a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and blood tests.
  • A meet up with an anesthesiologist to deliberate which kind of anesthesia should be used.
  1. Different Joints Can Be Replaced

The two most common types of joint replacement surgery are knee and hip replacement surgery. However, you can also have other joints in your body replaced, including the ankles, finger joints, and shoulders.

Once the artificial joint is fixed in place, you’ll notice improved mobility and reduced pain.

  1. Making Sure To Get Help from Family and Friends

After your joint replacement surgery, you need help to go about your normal daily tasks. Therefore, you need to talk with your family about how they might help you out while you recover. If you don’t live with anyone, go stay with a family member or close friend until you become more independent.

When neither of these options is available, go to a rehab facility where you’ll be monitored as you recover from the surgery.

  1. A Scar Tissue Will Form After Your Surgery

The scar tissue is a rigid, fibrous tissue that develops in a random and crisscrossing pattern. It usually forms in and around a fresh joint as part of the healing process. This tissue is susceptible to injury and has more pain receptors, hence it’s very pain sensitive, weak, and has poor circulation. It’s also not elastic, limiting how well you can move with your new joint. As time passes, the scar tissue will solidify, regardless if it’s a natural or artificial joint.

Therefore, you need to be on the lookout for this scar tissue, which develops after having a joint replacement surgery. 

  1. Understand That The Surgery Will Affect Your Work

You’ll need several weeks and, in some cases, months to recover after joint replacement surgery. Therefore, you need to assess the impact this procedure will have on your work before you go ahead with it.


The thought of joint replacement surgery is something that many people dread and seem not to be able to handle. However, this procedure is more than essential to manage your pain levels and improve your quality of life. Hopefully, this post has enlightened you on some important details you need to know about before your procedure.

With this in mind, you’ll now be at peace since you already understand what this procedure entails. Therefore, you’re more psychologically prepared to undertake this procedure and focus on recovering fully.


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