Answers To Commonly Asked Questions
What is joint replacement?
Am I too young for the surgery?
A joint replacement is an operation that removes the arthritic portions of a hip or knee, as well as surrounding damaged cartilage. The damaged joint is replaced with a metal and plastic artificial joint. This creates a smoothly functioning joint that is free of discomfort. The procedure generally takes between 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours.
What is The Joint Replacement Center at Nyack Hospital?
The Joint Replacement Center at Nyack Hospital is a unique and highly specialized facility within Nyack Hospital, dedicated to the surgical replacement and repair of hip and knee joints, and the rehabilitation
of patients following surgery.
Our medical team includes physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurses, patient care associates, surgical technologists, physical and occupational therapists, and case managers, all specializing in joint care.
Since we believe that patients themselves play a key role in their recovery, every detail—from preoperative teaching to postoperative exercise—is considered and reviewed by you, along with your team members.
Patients are encouraged to choose a family member or friend to participate in the role of “coach” during their recovery.
We emphasize group activities—such as meals and physical therapy—with your coach, our staff and other joint replacement patients; and we use creative incentives and progress markers to motivate you toward your mobility goals.
Who should consider joint replacement, and is it a common procedure?
Candidates for joint replacement experience chronic joint pain, most often from osteoarthritis. If pain interferes with your daily routine—performing job duties, doing household chores, walking and exercising, participating in recreational activities, enjoying time with your friends, children or grandchildren—and non-surgical treatments are not providing relief, you should consider talking to a Nyack Hospital orthopedic surgeon about joint replacement surgery. Every year, over 500,000 people undergo joint replacement surgery to relieve pain and disability, and restore their independence and quality of life.
Am I too old for the surgery?
If you are in reasonably good health and want to continue living a productive, active life, age is not an issue.
Patients experiencing severe joint degeneration in middle adulthood are considering joint replacement in greater numbers than before. Advancements in materials and techniques have made surgery a more viable option for those who, even several years ago, would have waited until they were older.
How well do patients recover from the procedure?
Joint replacement patients typically recover quickly and are able to walk soon after surgery. Most are hospitalized for three days after the procedure. Hip patients may need assistive equipment to help them perform activities of daily living while they adapt to their new joint.
Joint replacement patients generally undergo outpatient physical therapy for about two months, either at the Helen Hayes Outpatient Rehabilitation Program at Nyack Hospital or another facility. Generally, they are able to drive after two to four weeks, dance in four to six weeks and golf in six to twelve weeks.
After joint replacement surgery, when will I be able to…
Drive? about 2 - 4 weeks
Dance? about 4 - 6 weeks
Golf? about 6 -12 weeks
How long does a new hip or knee joint last?
The lifespan of a prosthetic joint varies, depending on the individual and his/her lifestyle. While there are no guarantees that an implant will last for a specifi c length of time, today’s prosthetic knee joints commonly last between 10 and 15 years; hip joints, between 15 and 20 years. However, some may require an earlier revision and others will last longer.
Is There Pain?
Pain is relative, as every person perceives discomfort differently. Fortunately, extreme pain following joint replacement surgery is becoming a thing of the past. One of the most instrumental developments in our field has been in post-operative pain management.
Before surgery and only after patients receive sedation, a nerve block is placed, which will minimize pain after joint replacement surgery. Total knee replacement patients receive a continuous femoral nerve catheter and local anesthetics are given through the catheter for the entire postoperative period. Hip replacement patients are given a Lumbar Plexus block to keep their postoperative discomfort to a minimum. In addition to regional blocks, patients are given narcotics medication and non-steriodal analgesics. This multi-modal technique attacks the pain pathways at different points, providing the most effective regimen to keep you as comfortable as possible after surgery. By minimizing pain, patient not only feel better, they are able to accelerate recovery by beginning physical therapy sooner.
Can There Be Complications?
Any surgery poses the risk of complications, but they are rare. When complications do occur, they are treatable. Nyack Hospital’s orthopedic surgeons use techniques that are specifically designed to minimize the possibility of complications and enhance the performance of implanted joints. The result has been increasingly reliable patient outcomes and successful implants for the vast majority of patients.
What’s The Next Step if I Decide To Move Ahead?
After consulting with one of our surgeons, The Joint Replacement Center will schedule you for pre-operative testing and education. Pre-operative testing and education will be scheduled on the same day for your convenience. You will be encouraged to bring a family member or friend to the pre-op education class who will act as your “coach” during your hospitalization and after discharge. During the class, members of our medical team will answer all your questions and share everything you need to know about joint replacement. You will also receive written materials to reinforce what you’ve learned, to keep you on track during the time leading up to your operation, and to help you plan for your recovery period.
Annually, about 435,000 Americans have a hip or knee replaced.
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes for Health.
Joint replacement procedures were first performed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since then, improvements in surgical materials and techniques have greatly increased their effectiveness.
Most joint replacement patients are able to work soon after surgery and are discharged from the hospital after just three days.