Understanding your total joint replacement
Total joint replacement surgery is a technique to remove and replace damaged or diseased joints. The cartilage and bone in the joint are damaged or have worn away. Surgery seeks to remove the damaged tissue and install metal, plastic, or ceramic parts. Knee and hip replacements are the most common, with over 1 million happening every year.
The benefits of minimally invasive surgery
Total joint replacements were once open surgeries. With open procedures, the surgeon makes a large incision near the damaged joint. Open surgeries are accurate and still used today. However, these surgeries have longer recovery times and higher risks of infection. Recently, surgeons have relied on minimally invasive means, including robotic surgery. These techniques use small incisions, arthroscopes, and small tools. That means faster surgeries, better success, and faster recovery.
All about recovery time
Minimally invasive surgery still has a recovery period. A patient will spend the first 2 weeks managing pain and performing simple therapeutic exercises. In the following 2-4 weeks, the patient moves to outpatient physical therapy. With physical therapy, pain management, and proper rest, patients should recover in 2-3 months. At this stage, patients should be able to work, drive, and perform light physical activities.
What about a full recovery?
Although patients can move freely within 2-3 months, recovery keeps happening well past this time. This is because the knee, hip, or other joint continues to get acclimatized with the body. There can be cases of pain and discomfort if the patient exerts too much energy. Most doctors advise that a full recovery happens between 12-18 months. These joints can last as much as 15 years or more. These figures will vary thanks to factors like patient health, age, and surgical techniques.
Speeding up results
Patients can’t avoid recovery. Yet, there are some steps patients can take to speed up the process. For starters, keep walking and moving as much as the doctors allow. Walking improves circulation and gets the body accustomed to the new joint. Proper sleep, whole food diets, and massage therapy also help. Consistently perform these actions along with physical therapy and enjoy a smoother recovery.
You need time to recover
Before total joint replacement, both patient and surgeon should discuss the recovery process. The recovery time will vary based on the type of surgery and attention to detail. On average, patients should move well in 2-3 months. However, full recovery can take 12 months or more. Being prepared for the journey is one of the best ways to get the most out of the new joint.