Older adults and joint replacement
Millions struggle with pain and the loss of motion associated with joint damage caused by arthritis. If other treatments fail to provide relief, you might wonder about turning in your worn-out joints for new ones. When joint replacement is the answer, you can take advantage of the following at Desert Regional Medical Center:
- A Joint Replacement Program designed to support patients through every aspect of their experience – from initial assessment through treatment and rehabilitation
- Physicians who specialize in the treatment or replacement of joints in the shoulder, hip, knee, hand, wrist and elbow
- Minimally invasive surgical techniques for joint replacement that allow for a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to activities
- Comprehensive, on-site rehabilitation services and staff
It takes more than great surgical technique to treat a severely injured or diseased joint. It also requires a team of professionals who can evaluate, diagnose and determine an overall plan of care for your specific condition. In other words, we know that we’re not treating a joint – we’re treating a human being.
Replacement is not always the answer to joint damage. In fact, it should be a final step in treatment. More conservative treatments are typically recommended first, such as:
- Pain medication
- Losing weight to ease stress on the joint
- Reducing physical activities that cause pain
- Exercises to keep muscles and joints flexible, promote fitness and make muscles stronger to support damaged joints
Am I a candidate for joint replacement?
To be considered for joint replacement surgery, you should have at least one of the following symptoms:
- X-ray evidence of joint damage
- Severe pain during activity, such as walking or getting up from a chair
- Pain that prevents you from doing activities
- Pain at night that prevents you from sleeping
What can I expect?
Total joint replacement involves a 2- to 3-day hospital stay. If you’re a typical hip or knee patient, you’ll be able to use a walker the next day. You’re likely to be released from the hospital on the third or fourth day after surgery, but you will need time to recover.
After hip replacement, you will probably need supports such as crutches or a walker. You should be able to return to most of your daily activities, without help, within a few months. You may still need physical therapy.
After shoulder replacement, you can start exercises with a therapist right away. The therapist will move the joint for you. Three to six weeks after surgery, your therapist will give you exercises to do on your own. In time, you’ll begin to stretch and strengthen your shoulder so that you can get back to using it normally again.
Recovery from joint replacement surgery generally involves some pain for two to three months. But it will gradually go away as you recover.
Will my new joint last?
Experts warn against unrealistic expectations for your new joint. You shouldn’t expect to bear activities that involve jumping or the type of stress that would be difficult with a natural joint. Your physician will advise you to avoid certain activities following surgery and may even recommend avoiding certain joint positions in order to prevent dislocation. Your limitations will depend on the joint you’re having replaced, as well as your specific situation.
An artificial joint eventually will change through wear and tear, even with normal use and activity. It may need to be replaced at some point. But they generally last 10 to 15 years. The good news is that new materials being developed for joint replacement are giving artificial joints a longer life span.
To find out more about Desert Regional’s Joint Development Program, call (760) 416-4511.