It’s not uncommon for patients with knee or hip arthritis to have
bilateral disease, meaning that both hips or both knees are affected.
In many patients however, one side is generally more painful than the
other. For these patients, I generally recommend single or staged
joint replacement, addressing the most painful side first. Typical
recovery is 2-3 months after joint replacement. If possible, it’s best
to allow the new replacement to fully heal prior to proceeding with
the other knee or hip. At that time, the opposite joint will be
evaluated and if still painful, it’s generally acceptable to proceed.
Many of my patient’s procedures end up being staged 2-3 months apart.
Occasionally, patients will present with severe bilateral knee or
hip arthritis. If both joints are affected equally and cause similar
disability, I will consider staged joint replacement 6 weeks apart or
even simultaneous joint replacement. These patients have to be low
risk with minimal pre-operative medical conditions. They also would
require adequate social assistance or at-home care to facilitate their recovery.
In general, I recommend the staged approach to my patients as we
are able to manage pain better with single procedures and I believe
patients seem to recover better when they’re focused on one joint at a time.