Am I a Candidate for Total Joint Replacement?

Joint replacement surgery is typically reserved for patients over 55 years of age who have very severe joint pain and stiffness. However, thanks to recent advances in artificial joint technology, the procedure is now being performed in greater numbers on younger and older patients. While circumstances vary, patients are candidates for joint replacement surgery if any of the following criteria are met:

  • Pain is severe enough to restrict not only work and recreation, but also the ordinary activities of daily living.
  • Pain is not relieved by more conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy, medication and injections.
  • Stiffness and loss of function in the joint is significant. 
  • X-rays indicate advanced arthritis or other problems.

Total Joint Replacement (TJR) is a surgical procedure in which arthritic or damaged parts of a joint are removed and replaced with an artificial joint, or prosthesis. More than a million joint replacements are performed yearly in this country, and TJR is one of the most successful of all surgical procedures. Chief among its benefits is the restoration of joint stability and function, the reduction or elimination of joint pain, and improvement in the patient’s overall mobility and quality of life. In most studies, after the initial post-operative period, 90 to 95% of patients experience complete or nearly complete pain relief. As the pain lessens, function also improves, allowing patients to get back to living.

Only you can decide whether your pain and disability warrants joint replacement.  Surgery should always be the last option. To that end, our surgeons are committed to helping each patient make an informed decision.  (Be sure to look at our list of the Top 11 Things You Should Know About Joint Replacement.) Too often, patient expectations are influenced by the promotion of high-tech/high-priced “miracle treatments” that are unproven clinically. We feel it is essential for all patients to have access to unbiased educational materials.  We’ll take the time to fully explain your diagnosis, treatment options, and potential outcomes. Our goal is to help you make a well-informed choice about which type of surgery to have, or whether to continue with more conservative methods of pain management.

If you do elect to have joint replacement surgery, you can rest assured that our surgeons have extensive training and experience in adult joint reconstruction, and have performed thousands of joint replacement procedures. They are trained in the latest surgical techniques, such as minimal incision total hip replacement and MAKOplasty partial knee resurfacing. Our practice also utilizes advanced prosthetic materials, including 3-D printed implants that demonstrate long-term success, especially among younger, more active patients.

Total {Joint} Care

  • Your First Visit

    You’ve been experiencing joint pain, perhaps for years, and you’ve had enough. You’re ready to find out more about its causes—and what you can do about it. When you…Read More

  • Treatment

    The effective treatment of arthritis starts without surgery. It begins with listening to your concerns, learning how the pain is affecting your life, and determining its root causes. Often,…Read More

  • Surgery

    If less-invasive treatment options are no longer effective for you, total joint replacement surgery can offer significant reductions in pain and clear gains in quality of life. Your…Read More

  • Post-Op Recovery

    Recovering from joint replacement surgery takes time. The post-operative phase focuses on helping you regain motion, strength, and function in your joint and body as a whole. Planning ahead…Read More

  • Your New Joint

    You’re feeling like yourself again. The key is to living well with your new joint is to stay active while avoiding things that place excessive stress on it. Recovery…Read More

The Top 11 Things to Know About Joint Replacement Surgery

1) Joint replacement is major surgery.

You should not be considering surgery unless you have significant pain that can no longer be controlled by non-invasive treatment.

2) Complication rates rise if you smoke, are obese, or have diabetes.

Most joint replacement surgeries are extremely successful, and post-surgery problems like infection, blood clots and dislocation are generally rare. However, complication rates are 3 to 5 times higher for people who smoke, and 6 to 7 times higher for very obese people. By stopping smoking, getting your weight down before surgery, and controlling your diabetes, you’ll improve your chances for a positive outcome. 

3) The surgery is the easy part.

For most patients, the real challenge is the recovery. The physical pain after a joint replacement is severe and pain medications are absolutely necessary. Those who currently rely on opioid medications to control their joint pain should know that long-term use of narcotics before surgery makes pain control after surgery more difficult.  OrthoEdge surgeons utilize a modern protocol that reduces pain severity in the first few days after surgery, curtails postoperative opioid consumption, mitigates negative outcomes common with traditional pain regimens, gets patients moving sooner, and enhances patient satisfaction.

4) Don't have surgery unless you're prepared to do rehab faithfully.

Physical therapy will be a crucial part of your healing process, and to get the best long-term results, you’ll need to put aside adequate time to focus on getting better.  Remember, the more you move, the better your outcome.

5) Realistic expectations are an important part of joint replacement success.

Getting a joint replacement is a lifestyle change. After surgery, you will need to restrict some of your activities. Running, jumping and high-impact activities must be limited, if not cut out entirely, to optimize the length of time a prosthetic will last. 

6) Minimally invasive is not always better.

Although “minimally invasive” has become something of a buzzword to describe surgeries done with smaller incisions and possibly different surgical techniques, the often-touted benefits of minimally invasive joint replacement—less pain and blood loss, quicker recovery times—must be balanced against long-term success rates. Minimally invasive hip and knee replacement do not eliminate risk. In fact, surgery with a shorter incision can introduce new risks and complications. Our goal is to perform surgery in the least intrusive way possible while reconstructing a joint to allow it to function well for decades. 

7) Not all joints--or joint implants--are the same.

Implant companies make several models and designs of implants, and the precise application depends on individual patient needs and anatomy. While our surgeons embrace the latest technology, biomaterials and surgical methods, they adopt new implant designs only after considering the advantages, safety, and scientific merits of such designs.

8) Advances in implant technology have led to better functionality and less pain for patients.

In the last 15 years, progress in implant materials and construction, as well as coating technologies, have improved device-tissue integration and reduced foreign body reactions and infections. Computer navigation technology has enabled significant gains in the accuracy of implant alignment. Additionally, new intra-operative pain protocols have yielded remarkable results.

9) Artificial joints can wear out.

While modern implants are projected to perform well in 90% of patients for at least 15 years, you may eventually need to have the artificial joint replaced.

10) Full recovery can take a year.

You’ll typically be released from the hospital or to a rehabilitation facility three days after your operation, but if you’ve had a lower extremity joint replacement, you won’t be able to drive for six weeks. People are generally back at their jobs after three months, and most are fully recovered after a year. However, some patients will take longer to regain their mobility and strength.

11) Picking the right surgeon and hospital is critical.

Our surgeons are specialists in joint replacement. St. Vincent’s Hospital Riverside, our surgeries are performed, is a well-known center for excellence in joint replacements. It is consistently ranked #1 in the state of Florida for knee replacement volume, and studies support the fact that high volume equals better outcomes and lower complication rates.