Frequently Asked Questions about Joint Replacement
You’ve got questions. We’ve got the answers. Below, you will find many of the common questions we receive and joint replacement.
Will I need any tests or medical evaluations prior to joint replacement surgery?
Yes. You need to have pre-admission testing done to ensure all your physical needs are met and that it is safe for you to proceed with surgery.
If I have joint replacement surgery, how much of my pain will be relieved?
Successful joint replacement surgery eliminates the arthritic pain that you have been experiencing. There will be surgical pain during the recovery period. The time period for alleviation of surgical pain varies from patient to patient and may even vary daily for each individual.
What are the risks involved with joint replacement surgery?
Surgery always involved potential risks. We take pride in our preventive methods to keep you healthy. You should discuss your surgical risks directly with your surgeon.
What kind of anesthesia will be used? Are there possible side effects or risks? Will I meet with the anesthesiologist in advance? Will he or she know my needs and allergies?
Anesthesia approaches vary and include general sedation and spinal anesthesia. An anesthesiologist will meet with you the day of surgery. Talk to your anesthesiologist about any concerns you have or problems you have had with anesthesia. Your medication list and allergies are updated in our system when you have pre-admission testing and will be reviewed again by the anesthesiologist.
Will I have a lot of pain after my joint replacement surgery?
All surgeries involve incisions and manipulation of the body, so pain is involved. Everyone reacts differently to pain and the treatments used to control the pain. We will work hard to keep your pain at a manageable level and to keep you comfortable.
How will my pain be controlled?
A combination of therapies is often used to reduce your pain, including:
- Intravenous (IV) medications
- Oral (by mouth) medications
- Non-pharmacological treatments, including using ice, positioning and distraction techniques
Your doctor may suggest a tube that provides numbing agents to the area of surgery, or you may take pills that dull the pain. Some pills will be given to you on a schedule and you will not have to ask for them. Other pills may be ordered as needed. Let your nurse know if you need any extra pills as soon as you start to feel pain.
It is important to us to ensure that the medications you take are safe and effective. If you are already on pain medication, be sure to tell your doctor prior to surgery. You can take your medications with a sip of water one to two hours before surgery.
How long will I be in the hospital?
A typical stay following joint replacement surgery is two to three days. Your individual needs are always reviewed before discharge is initiated.
What will my recovery involve? How long will recovery take?
Recovery varies for everyone. All efforts will be made to assist you in returning to your baseline health status. Many surgeries require hospital admissions of two to four days, but recovery continues at home, after your stay. Techniques used to help you recover include:
Will I need further treatment (such as physical therapy, splints, medication)?
Recovery varies for everyone, and continues after you leave the hospital. All efforts will be made to assist you in returning to your baseline health status. Medications frequently change after surgery, during your active recovery period, and will generally include pain medications. Techniques used to help you recover include:
- Physical therapy
- Continued medical supervision
- Assistive devices, such as canes, and walkers, which may be required for a short period of time
- Other devices, such as ice machines, may also be included
Instructions for continued recovery at home will be reviewed with you so that you understand what needs to be done after your stay.
How physically active can I be with a new joint?
You will be taught what your new joint can and can’t do as you progress in your recovery. You should be able to resume favorite activities that you had to forego due to the arthritic pain after your recovery period. Some restrictions may continue. Always check with your health care provider if you are uncertain about whether an activity is recommended or not.
Is joint replacement covered by my health insurance?
All insurance carriers vary in the coverage they provide. We recommended that you check with your insurance carrier to assess what your individual costs might entail.
After my procedure, will I see my surgeon or my regular doctor for follow-up care?
You will need to follow up with your surgeon after discharge as directed. You will also need to follow up with your usual medical provider for any non-surgical health issues.
When can I return to work? When can I drive my car?
This will vary depending on your recovery and on your surgeon’s advice. It is usually recommended that you may resume driving when you no longer require narcotic pain medication or an assistive device, such as a cane or walker.
If I want a second opinion, with whom can I consult?
You can ask your usual health care provider or your surgeon to recommend another surgeon. You can also contact CareFinders at 1-866-608-FIND (3463).
Am I too young for joint replacement surgery?
No one is too young for joint replacement surgery. However, the younger you are, the greater the chance that your joint replacement will have to be redone later in life.
We have the expertise and experience to perform joint replacement revisions. If pain is preventing you from living life to its fullest, don’t let age concerns prevent you from considering surgery.
Will I need to lose weight before surgery?
Possibly. If your body mass index (BMI) is high, losing weight can help reduce your risk of complications during and after surgery, including the risk of infection. Our team is experienced in treating patients who are overweight. If you have concerns, please discuss them with your surgeon.
How long will my joint replacement last?
There are several factors that determine how long your joint replacement will last, including age, activity level and weight. On average, most joint replacements last 10 to 15 years.