If you’ve been experiencing pain, stiffness, or a grinding feeling in your hips or knees, you may be a good candidate for joint replacement.
Brian Klatt, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Division of Joint Reconstruction, said it’s worthwhile to explore this option sooner rather than later: “With joint surgery, it’s exciting to see people’s lives changed so positively.”
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Who Should Consider Joint Replacement?
Joint pain doesn’t always require a surgical solution. If you’re feeling that stiff soreness or grinding sensation common to both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, you should discuss your options with your doctor.
Before turning to surgery, Dr. Klatt says, “we’ll take conservative measures to treat people,” including medications, physical therapy, injections, and bracing. If the symptoms don’t improve, though, you may want to consider surgery.
What Does Joint Replacement Entail?
Hip and knee replacements are relatively straightforward procedures. In a hip replacement, surgeons replace the ball and socket of the hip with various forms of metal, ceramic, and plastic. In a knee replacement, surgeons remove arthritic surfaces and resurface the knee with metal and plastic components.
What Is the Recovery Process for Joint Replacement?
The good news is that recovery from knee or hip replacement surgery is usually mild, especially compared to living with the pain of a condition like arthritis.
Recovery from a hip replacement can take around 6 to 8 weeks, while recovery from a knee replacement can take closer to three months. Dr. Klatt notes that recovery time also depends on the severity of the arthritis and emphasizes that post-surgery physical therapy is critical “to make sure you heal quickly and function well with your new joint.”
Who Is a Good Candidate for Joint Replacement?
You may be a good candidate for the surgery if you have:
- Chronic joint pain
- Loss of joint function
- A traumatic joint injury
- Certain bone defects or bone cancer
Older people generally make better candidates, as younger, more active people tend to wear out artificial joints sooner.
Dr. Klatt adds that if you’re considering surgery, you should make sure you’ve addressed factors that could increase the risk of infection or complications, such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. “People are surprised to find we don’t do a hip or knee replacement on someone who smokes.” But your medical team is there to help you conquer those lifestyle challenges too, Dr. Klatt notes. “If you have a problem, it’s our problem.”
To learn more about your joint replacement options, visit UPMC Orthopaedic Care or call 1-866-987-6784 to make an appointment.
About UPMC Orthopaedic Care
When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.