Submitted By Reconstructive Orthopaedics of Central Florida
Have you thought about getting a joint replaced but wondered just what that entails? Did you know that knees, shoulders, and even hips can be done in an outpatient setting? If you get a knee replaced the expectation is that the surgery will usually go well enough that you can actually go home the very afternoon that you had the surgery. Shoulders may be the same and while a hip replacement usually does require a few nights in the hospital, there absolutely are cases where a patient can go home the same day. Some knee and shoulder procedures can even be done in local surgery centers, avoiding hosptal parking and the presence of ‘sick’ patients altogether.
You may hear your physician or friends refer to the procedure as an arthroplasty which is what it is called when you have part or all of the entire joint replaced. What that means is that your physician goes into the joint and removes any damaged, diseased, or otherwise non-functioning parts and replaces them with man made parts. The man-made parts can last up to 20 years and only ten percent or so require additional replacements at the ten-year mark. People who get partial replacements are more likely to need surgery again as the ‘original’ parts may continue to deteriorate over time.
The most common joints are knees, hips, and shoulders but even ankles, wrists, shoulders, and elbows can be done. Three are many companies who make the replacement joints – called prosthetics – and the shelf life on these components is quite impressive – tennis, pickle ball, rowing, and even running can be on your docket again after a successful arthroplasty. The first few days after surgery can have heightened pain, but the recovery process can be helped greatly with ice, elevation, rest, and adherence the pain medication regimen you and your provider discuss. You don’t get credit for suffering, but there are also strict guidelines mandated by the state to help avoid accidental overuse of medications. The average time frame for use of narcotics after this type of procedure ranges from four to twelve weeks. If it affects your digestive track and elimination of waste, you can speak with your provider about Colace or Dulcolax.
You can also make your own ice packs before surgery (or just to have on hand) using one gallon food storage bags (double bagging is a good idea and if you add just a drop of food coloring you’ll know ahead of time if it starts to leak). Mix 1 cup rubbing alcohol with 3 cups of water and then distribute evenly between four of the gallon bags for on the ready ice bags. If you have at least four on hand prior to your surgery you will find them very helpful. The combination of the water and the alcohol creates a semi liquid that is similar to a Slushie and is easy to ‘mold’ to your body part. Many people also find using bags of frozen peas to be similarly helpful. It’s always a good idea to place a thin piece of cloth between the ‘ice pack’ and your skin – the ace bandages will certainly suffice in the beginning.
Physical therapy (often called PT for short) is an additional and excellent tool for recovery. PT can usually start immediately after surgery with some minor moves like learning how to safely stand (and use a walker, cane, or crutches if the surgery was on your knee). You may, if you go to a facility have your therapy there, but you can also have a therapist come to your home or you can go to an outpatient therapy provider to do exercises and weight bearing acclimation. Even things like getting in and out of the bed are best addressed with a therapist to ensure you are conscious of what moves will cause the least discomfort as your body acclimates to the new joint and recovers from the incisions and intrusive surgery. Following the suggestions and directions of your therapist is encouraged. You will have pain and swelling and perhaps even some bruising, but the therapist can help you balance the need to rest and recover against the need to avoid scar tissue and joint stiffness.
While there is never a guarantee with any surgery, joint replacements are quite common and have extremely positive outcomes for the mass majority of patients. The recovery is a little different for and Your primary care physician can provide good information about orthopaedic surgeons in your area. Initial consultations can also be provided, quite often without a referral, by the providers at Reconstructive Orthopaedics of Central Florida. XRays and MRIs are helpful in deciding which type of surgery (partial or total) suits you best and can also be used in creating the prosthetic for your joint. Prior to scheduling surgery, you will want to discuss your medications and any other chronic conditions (diabetes, blood thinners, cardiology or pulmonary conditions). Recovery is unique to every patient but driving has to be avoided for several weeks after the surgery is complete and long trips should not be planned for at least six weeks. The surgery can absolutely give you a new lease on life.
Contact Reconstructive Orthopedics of Central Florida Today at (352) 456-0220.
1500 Southeast Magnolia Extension, Suite 104
Ocala, Florida 34471