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What to Expect: Total Joint Replacement Surgery

The majority of total joint replacement surgeries are performed on senior citizens – but are sometimes done on younger adults. It’s important for you to understand exactly what to expect when you undergo one of these procedures. What does the process involve? What kind of physical therapy will I undergo afterwards? Will I recover full range of motion in the joint that was replaced? Whether you are a senior or not, the following information will let you know what to expect when you undergo total joint replacement.

What Does the Surgery Involve?

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint made of metal, plastic or ceramic material. The procedure most commonly involves the replacement of the knee or hip, but it can also be done on the shoulder or wrist.

The actual procedure involves the surgical removal of the joint. The surgeon will also remove any damaged bone and cartilage from the affected area. An artificial joint that mimics the shape and movement of your natural joint will then be implanted (attached in such a way that it stays in place and functions like a natural joint).

What Kind of Therapy Will I Need During Recovery?

Every person is unique – the type of therapy and length of treatment will depend on which joint was replaced and how well you respond to treatment. As a general rule, your physician will encourage you to start using your new joint very soon after surgery with the assistance of a physical therapist. 

It will be challenging – and a bit painful at times – but it’s important for you to cooperate with your therapist. You’ll also be given specific exercises designed to help your body adjust to the new joint and restore the strength of muscles that have been weakened by the surgical procedure.

Will I Recover Full Movement in the Joint That Was Replaced?

Within a few months, you should be experiencing little or no pain and have regained much more of the ease of movement you lacked before your joint was replaced. Most patients who undergo total joint replacement should be able to perform daily tasks much more easily once fully healed. 

Artificial joints have been proven to last for many years in most cases, so you can expect to experience improved movement, greater strength around the replaced joint and an improved quality of life that would not have been possible without undergoing this procedure.

DISCLAIMER: Always consult your physician before acting on any medical advice or tips you may receive – including those involving medical procedures, exercises, lifestyle changes, supplements, vitamins, etc. Lafayette General Orthopaedic Hospital is not responsible for any adverse effects experienced by persons who act upon advice without prior approval from a qualified physician.