The number of knee and hip replacements annually in the United States grows every year. In 2017, there were approximately 700,000 knee and over 300,000 hip arthroplasties. The surgeries fall into partial, total, and revision implants. Reports predict that by 2024, the market value of orthopedic large joint devices will be $8.6 billion in the U.S. The escalating population of the elderly is one of the factors contributing to the growth in joint implants.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Report of 2018, by 2035, there could be 78 million people 65 and older, whereas there will be 76 million less than 18. As a person ages, there is a marked decrease in mobility, which can be the result of obesity, osteoarthritis, hip fractures, and degenerative bone diseases. The common term for the latter is osteoporosis that occurs when bones become brittle and weak. Others may experience a lack of mobility with age due to overuse of the hips or knees from decades of physical activities.
For the majority, a joint replacement is a last resort when other forms of treatment, such as rest, anti-inflammatories, ice, and physical therapy, have not worked. When these recommended treatments do not alleviate the pain, stiffness, and increase mobility, surgery is an option. Surgery is not reserved for the sedentary or the very elderly. Many adults in their 40’s and 50’s who wish to remain active and resume sports may decide that a knee or hip replacement is the only option. Although a certain percentage of adults might be permanently banned from high impact sports involving running, they can still walk, swim, cycle, and play golf. And with the success rate greater than 95% for hip replacements, surgery could be the panacea.
Candidates for a total knee replacement (TKR) or total hip replacement (THR) need to know that advantageous outweigh the process. The process being the surgical procedure, a few days hospitalized, time off work, minimal initial mobility, and physical therapy. After hip surgery, doctors recommend 20 to 30 minutes of exercise upon arriving home. Short walks inside the residence are encouraged. Using a walker will aid balance and assistance as you regain strength in the affected limb. Movement is also crucial to minimizing the change of blood clots. You may not be able to drive for three to six weeks after a THR.
A TKR also involves a slow recovery period. By week three, you should require few or no pain medication and be able to stand for ten minutes or longer. At this stage, some patients do not require the support of a walker or cane. By the fourth and sixth weeks after surgery, strength in the knee and range of motion improves. Patients may also return to work, provided the occupation does not require lifting or even walking any distance.
For people to reap the benefits of less or no pain and resumption of physical activities after a TKR or THR, they must be motivated. Motivation might be more challenging for recipients of new joints who were sedentary pre-operation. Whereas others, who were considerably active before surgery, will be extremely inspired to return to the same lifestyle. The cherished benefit for this group is the desire to restore the activities they once enjoyed. However, the pain and decreased mobility robbed them of participating in sports of some kind.
Whether one is active and energetic or a couch-potato, one overwhelming benefit for both categories is a reduction or elimination of pain. Chronic pain debilitates the mind and the body. Lasting pain has emotional consequences, for example, persistent negativity, feeling of hopelessness, despair, mental defeat, and depression. One energetic person might be relegated to being sedentary due to pain. Another person may prefer to sit in front of a TV most of the day – regardless of the lifestyle – pain can destroy the quality of life for each. Studies reveal that 85% of individuals suffering from chronic pain experience insomnia.
What about Athletes?
Competitive athletes and weekend-warriors will benefit from a hip or knee replacement. Individuals who love to use free weights can resume this type of exercise. Many can do squats past parallel after a TKR or THR procedure. Weight-bearing exercises increase bone density, making them the ideal activity to gain strength in the muscles and tendons following surgery. Wear and tear on the artificial joint is not as problematic since the newest plastic components can withstand 100 million cycles in lab tests. Even a shoulder replacement can withstand a force of 300 pounds during a bench press!
The information above attests to the numerous benefits of a joint replacement, namely physical activity, no more chronic pain, improved quality of life, emotional stability, and more. Today’s robotic surgeries allow the orthopaedic surgeon to tailor the procedure for the anatomy of the patient. Robotic-assisted knee surgeries result in patients showering the next day.