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Ask the BJC Expert

The Journey to Joint Replacement

Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Determining If It’s Right for You

Joint replacement usually comes into play after other alternatives — such as injections, medications and braces — have been unable to provide you with any relief. However, it isn’t for everyone, and your orthopedist will ensure you’re a good candidate for joint replacement before any plans are underway. For example, if you’re overweight, or have a body mass index (BMI) over 40, your doctor will likely recommend weight loss to help your artificial joint last as long as possible. Underlying health issues can also be a factor, particularly for people with diabetes or who are on immunosuppressant medications for fibromyalgia, lupus or psoriatic diseases, as they have a greater risk of infection after a joint replacement. Anemia, smoking and chronic kidney disease are other factors that have to be addressed before proceeding.

Preparing for Surgery and Recovery

There are several things you can do before surgery to make the recovery process easier. The most important is preparing the body physically. Begin to exercise and get your body into shape to undergo this major procedure. This might include physical therapy, which will also give you an idea of the exercises you can expect after surgery. When planning, identify a caregiver who will be able to support you by driving you to physical therapy or helping you prepare meals. Additionally, be sure to arrange your home for recovery, removing any throw rugs and getting slip-on shoes with rubber soles to decrease your risk of falling.

Getting Back to Your Life

Recovery looks different for hips and knees. Six weeks after hip replacement surgery, most patients are relatively pain free and have returned to their normal activities. Knee replacement is a little more challenging with a longer recovery. However, by six months, patients are able to enjoy the activities they weren’t able to before surgery. Within a year, the replaced knee has become the better, or dominant, knee, leading many patients to consider a replacement for the other, as they’re enjoying their new found, pain-free life.

Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Hospitals have resumed elective surgeries with increased safety protocols for both visits to doctor's offices and hospital procedures. Don’t put off your pain any longer — speak with an orthopedist today.

Content provided by Jesse Susi, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Saint Louis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. He sees patients and performs surgery at Progress West Hospital. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Susi by calling 636.928.WELL. Want to learn about your joint health? Take our joint health quiz.

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The Journey to Joint Replacement

Joint problems usually begin in mid- to late life. If you’re someone who plays sports, you might notice you can’t get out on the court or the field anymore. Maybe you’re unable to keep up with your family and friends when you travel, or you’re just slowing down in general. This could be from pain, tiredness or weakness in your joint or leg. While there are many ways to treat joint problems, sometimes a joint replacement is the best option.

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