Joint replacement is surgery focusing on the repair of worn or damaged joints. There are two basic categories of surgery in this group - total joint replacement and partial joint replacement. The actual surgeries replace the end of the bones that make up the joints with artificial pieces so that the repaired joint moves freely and without pain. In a partial joint replacement procedure, only one-half of the joint would be surgically replaced. There are many reasons for joint replacement surgery. Sometimes it is from new injuries, and sometimes from wear and tear due to overuse. Other reasons include disease such as arthritis and also age-related conditions such as osteoporosis.
The time for recovery varies from joint to joint. You can expect a hospital stay of one to three days. For all joint replacement procedures, expect to begin physical therapy within the first week of surgery. Total recovery to rebuild strength and usage can take up to a complete year. However, some patients find themselves fully recovered in as little as six months.
Most patients who have undergone joint replacement surgery experience very good long-term outcomes. Pain relief and increased stability and function have been reported. Most joint replacement parts last between ten and 15 years. In a few cases, replacement joints may last only one-three years. Shorter spans often have to do with joint diseases, such as osteoporosis, cancer, etc.
Any pain or discomfort from the initial surgery is controlled with I.V. medication. Joint pain after discharge decreases and should be gone within one to two weeks. Pain in the joint itself after full recovery is rare. To ensure the best results after surgery, follow your surgeon and therapists’ directions. If you experience a sudden increase in pain or swelling, or if your hand or wrist becomes red, hot or crooked, call your surgeon.
Call your surgeon or therapist if you have specific questions.