Have No Fears: Debunking 6 Myths About Joint Replacement
If you’re facing joint replacement for the first time, you’re probably apprehensive, too. And that’s natural. But arming yourself with knowledge can help put your fears to rest. We put six common fears surrounding the procedure to rest.
Fear: It will hurt.
It’s true that there will be pain. It is surgery, after all. “Joint replacement is a surgical procedure, and a considerable one at that,” says Christy Oakes, R.N., president of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses. “Patients who think they won’t have pain need additional preoperative education.”
But McFarland and others who have had joint replacement insist it’s worth it. “The pain you’re in now is so much worse than what you’ll have after surgery,” she says. The pain from arthritis is constant and will only get worse, whereas the pain associated with surgery is temporary and will go away in time.
Fear: I will need to be off my feet for a long time after surgery.
The idea that joint replacement surgery means weeks or months of bed rest is more than outdated. In fact, as your orthopedic surgeon will tell you, using your new joint soon after surgery is the best possible medicine.
“It’s not one of those surgeries where you go home and just sit in the easy chair,” Oakes says. “You need to maintain your mobility.”
After a hip or a knee replacement, that generally means you will be encouraged to get up and walk the day after your surgery, if not the same day. Most patients are able to leave the hospital in three to five days. Physical therapy starts immediately.
Fear: Rehabilitation will be too hard or time-consuming.
Yes, rehabilitation is hard work. “Joint replacement is not a surgery you can just have and do nothing. There needs to be a personal commitment on the part of the patient, too, to be successful,” Oakes says. “But when you look at the outcome and the fact that you will be able to go grocery shopping without pain, I would hope that patients would think there is a return on that investment and commit to rehab.”
The physical and occupational therapists at Gwinnett SportsRehab will help you get back on your feet and doing what you love. To learn more about Gwinnett SportsRehab, click here.
Fear: I won’t be able to do the things I like to do.
There may be some limitations in the activities you can do with your replacement joint. But if pain is keeping you from doing those things now, what will you be missing?
Fear: The Joint prosthesis will need to be replaced again In 10 years.
Joint prostheses have come a long way since the first replacement surgeries in the U.S. were performed in the 1960s and are much more durable. Implants are made of varying materials, depending on the joint being replaced and the condition of the surrounding bone. Common materials include metal, such as stainless steel or titanium, and polyethylene, a durable plastic.
Some newer implants, particularly knees and hips, are made out of a special type of ceramic material or oxidized zirconium, which are both smooth and durable. These new implants can last 20 to 25 years as opposed to older implants that had a 10- to 15-year life span, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Again, patients play a large role in the joint’s success. “A lot of the ability as to how long they last has to do with the patient and his or her care of the joint,” Oakes stresses.
Gwinnett Medical Center offers state-of-the-art treatment options including ConforMis Knee replacement. We offer comprehensive joint replacement and general joint surgeries in an environment that emphasizes patient and family education, early mobility after surgery, pain management and successful rehabilitation. Learn more about Gwinnett Medical Center's joint replacement program.
I need to wait as long as possible before having joint replacement.
Because in years past joint prostheses didn’t last as long, people used to wait until the last possible moment to have the surgery. Today, that philosophy has changed. Because the implants are lasting longer and because we know that the healthier you are when you have the surgery, the more successful it will likely be, people aren’t waiting as long in pain.
Are You Ready for Joint Replacement?
Visit gwinnettjointprogram.com/jointhealth and take a quiz to see if you’re a candidate for surgery. Then, download a FREE Joint Health Decision Guide and receive a physician referral.