For runners, cyclists, tennis players, and golfers, severe osteoarthritis can make continuing the pursuit of sports and recreation difficult later in life. As athletes and weekend warriors age into their fifties, sixties, and even later, they often find that hip, knee, or shoulder pain limits their desire and ability to swing a club, hit the court, or pound the trails.
For patients find too little relief from conservative treatments such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, or rest; the next consideration is often total joint replacement.
During total joint replacement, an Orthopaedic surgeon removes and replaces damaged natural components with artificial ones to eliminate bone-on-bone friction and improve range of motion. Patients are commonly concerned with having to spend several days or weeks in the hospital, and that they’ll not be able to return to any level of physical activity after surgery. However, there’s good news:
Total joint replacement surgery can now be performed on an outpatient basis for some patients, and most athletes can return to low-impact, moderate fitness activities if they take the recommended precautions.
As recently as a decade ago, patients undergoing joint replacement in the inpatient hospital setting would check in a day or two before surgery and spend nearly a week in the hospital after having their joint replaced. Advances in care have shortened that average length of stay to some degree, but patients typically still may spend a few nights in a hospital bed after these procedures before going home or being discharged to a rehab facility.
Over the past two years, many of our total joint patients have come to enjoy a much more convenient experience through same-day outpatient surgery.
Most patients who take advantage of this outpatient option arrive during the morning and are home in time for dinner. In this surgery center setting, our physicians have complete control over all aspects of patient care, overseeing everything from anesthesia to the nursing staff to on-site physical therapy. This comprehensive approach enhances patient outcomes and makes for a more efficient and cost-effective process for the patient and their physician.
On average, patients are living longer than they once did, while staying active later in life. This combination of exercise and longevity means that more individuals than ever will need a hip or knee replacement (or both) at some point in the next decade. We’re even seeing a dramatic increase in the number of patients age 50 to 60 who seek joint replacement, as opposed to the traditional total joint candidate who was once typically older than 70.
Dramatic improvements in the quality and durability of artificial joint components, along with advances in surgical approaches and techniques, have made this procedure much more viable for individuals in their fifties. They can now feel confident that their new joint will last as long as they do.
The level of activity someone may return to after having a hip or knee replaced depends on several factors: the patient’s level of overall health, level of activity prior to surgery, approach to physical therapy, and the type of prosthesis implanted during surgery. Typically most patients may return to low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, golfing, or gardening within three to six months of surgery. Some may bounce back even sooner. In some instances, more moderate levels of activity like cycling or doubles tennis may even be possible for some patients.
Regardless of what activities you resume post-surgery, a return to an active, healthy schedule is incredibly valuable. When patients experience debilitating pain from arthritis, they often feel they must give up physical fitness forever. This can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, and even depression. Total joint replacement gives many patients a new lease on life while helping them stay in great shape for many years.
Dr. Patrick Toy is a total joint replacement specialist at Campbell Clinic. To find out if you may be a candidate for outpatient joint replacement, visit http://www.campbellclinic.com to learn more, or call (901) 759-3111 to schedule an appointment.