Joint replacement is often the last step in treatment. It becomes an option when nonsurgical treatments, such as lifestyle modification and medications, are no longer effective.
Once you have decided that hip or knee replacement surgery is right for you, your surgeon will work with you to schedule your surgery and a pre-admission testing visit. To prepare yourself for surgery, we also recommend attending a joint replacement education class and a Mind, Body and Spirit Class, offered by UC Irvine Health.
Patients typically stay in the hospital for two or three days after surgery. Many patients qualify for the Rapid Recovery Program, which is an accelerated rehabilitation program for all patients who are planning to be discharged to their homes. Your surgeon will provide you with further details.
Many patients are able to be discharged directly to their home. Your preadmission orthopaedic nurse navigator will assist you in selecting a recovery setting suitable for your needs. Your options may include outpatient physical therapy, home care services (nursing and/or physical therapy) and skilled nursing facility rehabilitation.
Mild or moderate exercise is beneficial, but over-exercise is painful and possibly harmful. Your physical therapist will supply a list of exercises. In many cases, it is advisable to continue with a therapist-supervised exercise program after you are discharged from the hospital.
Everyone heals from surgery at a different pace. In most cases, you will be out of bed and walking the day of surgery. However, be patient with your recovery. Most patients take a few weeks off work.
Discuss your personal recovery pathway with your physician.
In general, most people take four to 12 weeks to recover fully and return to work. All patients recover at their own pace, however, and jobs vary in their physical demands.
The pain after total hip replacement usually decreases after the first week. After that, it may come and go for several more weeks. Swelling can be improved by spending two hours in bed each day with your feet elevated above your heart. Elastic stockings can also help alleviate swelling.
How long your joint will last depends on a few factors, including your age and activity level.
If you are young and active, your joint may eventually need to be replaced. If you are older and less active, your joint may never need to be replaced.
As a general rule, artificial joints last about 20 to 30 years. New materials, however, are being developed to give them a longer life span.