Joint Replacement: Life After Surgery


Andrew M. Star, MD
Medical Director of the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute at Abington Health

While the number of joint replacement surgeries is rising, the average patient age has been on the decline. Grandparents are no longer the only generation getting fitted for new knees and hips. More and more active people of all ages are experiencing what it’s like to live with a prosthetic joint. 

By most accounts, once a replacement joint has fully healed, the only major difference the patient notices is that the pain they once experienced is gone. Occasionally, a knee joint may feel somewhat mechanical or make clicking or popping sounds, but a well-done joint replacement will return nearly your full range of mobility, and last for anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

Still, even with the new, more durable materials being used in prosthetics these days, replacement joints are best suited for moderate activity. In other words, post-operative patients can be very active but should stick to low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and biking. Any activity that exerts a lot of pressure on the joints—say, running or jumping—can loosen them and wear them out.

Emerging research also shows some surprising benefits of joint replacement beyond just pain reduction and increased mobility. Researchers in Canada found that knee or hip replacement patients were 40 percent less likely to suffer a cardiovascular event than those who opted not to have surgery. And research presented at last year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons even found that 81 percent of joint replacement surgery patients stated that the frequency of their sexual activity had increased. More evidence that successful joint replacement surgery can lead to a fuller, healthier, and happier life.

For more information on joint replacement view the clip below from last night’s live web chat with Dr. Star: Joint Replacement: Are You a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Hip or Knee Replacement?

Don’t miss out on next month’s Health Chat with Abington Health on February 20th at 12pm: The Newest Treatment Options for Congestive Heart Failure featuring Dr. Rohinton J. Morris and Dr. Donald C. Haas, sign up here.