The number of joint replacements performed in the US each year is high, with over 1 million total knee and total hip procedures performed annually.1 With the aging of the baby boomers, and the growing demand for improved mobility and quality of life, the number of procedures performed yearly is projected to increase considerably in the future. Thus, making joint replacement surgery one of the most common elective procedures in the coming decades.
For most patients, hip or knee replacement surgery is indicated when you have daily pain that is unresponsive to non-operative treatment. This is typically due to end stage, bone-on-bone arthritis. While these types of surgeries are typically successful, like any operation, there are risks involved. To read more about the risks of knee or hip replacement surgery, click on the appropriate link below.
If these procedures are typically successful, why are some people still unsatisfied with their outcome? While there are many reasons for this, the expectations we have regarding the outcome of the surgery, realistic or not, are a common cause of dissatisfaction. So, it’s important to have a thorough and realistic understanding of what to expect after hip or knee replacement surgery, both in regard to recovery as well as long term results.
In general, most patients find hip replacement recovery to be easier and faster than total knee replacement. This is primarily because of the differences between the joints. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and does not get as stiff after surgery like the knee joint, which is more of a hinged joint. As a result, knee replacement requires much more therapy following surgery to regain the range of motion in the joint. This unfortunately takes more time and effort from a patient’s perspective.
In contrast to what you may expect, younger patients commonly have a slower and more painful recovery than older patients. This is normal, and likely because, younger patients typically have more muscle mass than older patients due to the natural process of aging.
It’s important to remember that joint replacement is a treatment for arthritis. It’s not a magic solution that will turn back the clock of time. If you have questions, or are uncertain about what you should expect from your procedure, talk to your doctor. They will be able to provide guidance based on your specific condition.