Living to the Fullest After Joint Replacement Surgery
One of the things that often holds people back from considering joint replacement surgery is the fear that they’ll have to give up beloved activities such as running or playing tennis. In fact, the opposite is true!
The pain caused by problematic joints can prevent you from living life to the fullest, and replacing those joints allows you to get back to doing what you love — largely without exception.
Understanding the link between joint replacement and post-surgery activity, including what you can do before and after surgery to ensure the best possible outcome, can help you decide if joint replacement is right for you.
Resuming Activities Without Restriction — And Sooner Than You’d Think
While there are some surgeons who do place restrictions on what kind of activities a person can do after joint replacement, my colleagues and I do not. Our goal is getting you back to doing the things you love without pain, and we follow the science showing that patients who get back to a higher level activity — including running, tennis and skiing — do not have any higher risk of failure than those who do.
For example, in a study that included over 2,500 patients who underwent a total hip replacement, there was no increase in failure among those who were highly active after surgery, and 99% needed no subsequent surgeries for up to 10 years following their hip replacement.
Another common misconception about joint replacement is that it could be years before patients are able to get back to their favorite activities. In reality, recovery happens much more quickly than you might think.
On average, most people are able to return to golfing only three and a half months after surgery and can get back to playing tennis after four to six months.
Preparation Helps You Meet Your Goals
Regardless of your post-surgery goals for resuming activities, maintaining a healthy lifestyle beforehand is the most important thing you can do to ensure a smooth recovery.
Your knees feel between two and three times the force of body weight, meaning that each pound you lose or keep off before surgery will be three pounds less pressure on your joints. The less pressure on your joints, the easier it will be for you to recover from replacement surgery.
What to Expect After Surgery
Whether you have a hip or knee replacement surgery, you can expect to return home the same day. You’ll typically be using a walker for a week or two, then move on to using a cane for balance.
For the first six weeks, your recovery will center on improving your range of motion and strengthening your muscles.
Between six and twelve weeks is when most people start to see big improvements in strength, along with the most drastic changes in activity level.
By about three months after surgery, you should be virtually pain-free through most activities — certainly getting back to walking and golf, and perhaps even some light doubles tennis.
By six months, most patients are able to fully resume any activity they desire, regardless of intensity.
Putting in your best effort with your physical therapist after surgery will go a long way in helping you get back to the activities you love, as will staying active after physical therapy ends in order to maintain your strength.
Leaving Pain Behind
Still not convinced you’ll be able to live life to the fullest after joint replacement? Consider the case of my friend who also happens to be a patient. He’d been suffering from osteoarthritis for about 10 years and stopped doing pretty much all activities, including his favorite sport, pickleball. He ended up getting a partial knee replacement.
About three and a half months after his surgery, I spotted him on the pickleball court, running around with a huge smile on his face. “I haven’t done this in over eight years,” he said. “And I’ve never been happier in my life.”
JIS can diagnose and treat your injury, and help you recover
Live life without limits. Come in and see us. We’ll make sure we diagnose your situation appropriately, and take the best course of action to get you back to living your best life. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 614.221.6331.