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Joint Replacement Resources

The Total Resource for Joint Replacement

Joint replacement surgery, whether of the knee, hip or shoulder, can bring life-enhancing pain relief and restoration of mobility and activity. However, for many patients, it also raises many questions about procedures, recuperation and rehabilitation. Here are answers to questions asked most often by prospective patients.

Information to Help You with Your Total Joint Replacement Decision

Whether and when to have total joint replacement surgery is a difficult decision for any patient to make, and many express concern as to whether the new joint will stand the test of time and not wear out. The doctors at Saint Agnes Hospital’s Orthopaedic & Spine Institute have lent their expertise to help patients better understand the surgery by answering the most frequently asked questions.patients.


What is a total joint replacement?

In a healthy body, the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage, a rubbery material that provides a cushion and prevents bones from rubbing together. Over time, arthritis can cause the cartilage to break down, resulting in severe pain and swelling as well as a loss of motion in the joints. When there is no other alternative treatment, the solution is total joint replacement.

During a total joint replacement, your joint replacement surgeon removes the damaged joint, like your hip, knee, or shoulder joint and replaces it with a new, artificial joint made of durable synthetic materials. This procedure requires skill and precision, so it’s essential to have an experienced team like the expert surgeons at Saint Agnes.

How can total joint replacement help me?

You don’t have to live with chronic pain or let arthritis hold you back. If joint pain is keeping you from enjoying day-to-day activities like walking, climbing stairs or limiting your ability to work, you may benefit from a total joint replacement at Saint Agnes.

We have a unique system in place to ease patients’ fears and enable you to be pain-free much sooner. Our rapid mobilization involves educating the patient about the recovery process in advance of the surgery, having anesthesiologists provide pain therapy, and employing an aggressive approach to rehabilitation therapy, which enables patients to take their first steps the same night as the surgery.

Do Saint Agnes’ surgeons specialize in certain types of joint replacement?

Yes. We specialize in hip, knee, and shoulder replacement surgery. Our team comprises total joint replacement surgeons, doctors, nurses and physical and occupational therapists.

Why should I choose Saint Agnes for my surgery?

Patients from around the world have sought our award-winning orthopedic care. The orthopedic surgeons at Saint Agnes Hospital are some of the most experienced surgeons in the region. They are constantly pursuing the latest methods to make joint replacement surgery as minimally invasive as possible, which cuts down on postoperative pain and time spent in recovery.

We also involve you in the process every step of the way. This way, you know exactly what to expect. Your experience begins with a pre-surgery class, where you’ll learn more about your upcoming procedure and have an opportunity to ask questions. After your surgery, our caring rehabilitation team guides you through the recovery process.

How does Saint Agnes’s approach to patient care benefit me?

The individualized multidisciplinary care at the Orthopedic & Spine Institute at Saint Agnes is unique. From pre-op to surgery to post-op care, it’s a very coordinated team effort. A key element is Saint Agnes’ pre-op class which informs you about what to expect and what is expected of you. You’ll learn how to prepare for surgery, about the entire process from arrival to surgery to discharge, what the hospital stay will be like, and what life will be like after you leave the hospital. The classes decrease anxiety and explain the post-op experience. Everyone is on the same page. The entire process – not just the surgery but also the education and follow-up – is emphasized at Saint Agnes.

How will the surgery impact my lifestyle?

Your team at Saint Agnes will do their best to help you return to the pain-free lifestyle that you had before joint pain. Your surgeon and rehabilitation team will help you decide what activities are best for the health and longevity of your joints.

What are the major risks?

Most surgeries go well without any complications. Infection and blood clots are two serious complications that concern us the most. To avoid these complications, we use antibiotics and blood thinners. We also take special precautions in the operating room to reduce the risk of infections.

Should I exercise before surgery?

Yes. You should discuss preoperative physical therapy/exercise options with your joint replacement surgeon. Exercises should begin as soon as possible.

How long will my new hip/knee last and can a second replacement be done?

Most joint replacements last more than 10-15 years. However, there is no guarantee and a second replacement may be necessary.

How long does the surgery take?

On average, the surgeries take one to two hours.

When will I be able to get out of bed?

Your surgeon may request that you get out of bed the day of your surgery. The next morning you will get up, sit in a chair and walk with a walker with help from the staff.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Typically you will have a two-three day stay in the acute care hospital. You will remain in the hospital until you are walking well enough to be safe at home. Make arrangements before surgery to have someone stay with you when you are discharged. If you need more time for rehabilitation, other options might be available to you. During your acute care stay you will meet with a case manager who will assist you with your discharge plans. Based on your progress, the rehabilitation staff and your physician will provide you with discharge recommendations.

Will I have pain after surgery?

Yes, but we will keep you comfortable with appropriate medication. Your comfort is important to our staff. The day of surgery, some patients control their own medicine with a special pump that delivers the drug directly into their IV. Your joint replacement surgeon will discuss with you what pain control option is best for you. In order to better serve your needs, we will ask you to rate your pain. The scale will be from 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain possible. This rating will give the staff an idea of how you feel and how to treat your discomfort.

Will I need special equipment at home following surgery?

During your acute care stay our rehabilitation staff will assess your equipment needs and make recommendations. Until your muscle strength returns you will need a walker, cane, or crutches. Other equipment may include a shower chair, a three-in-one bedside commode, as well as other adaptive equipment designed to help you with your activities of daily living. The case manager will coordinate obtaining the appropriate equipment for your home.

Where will I go after I discharge from the hospital?

Most patients go directly home when discharged. The case manager will arrange for a physical therapist to come to your home three times a week. Some patients need to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility before they go home. You should check with your insurance company to see what rehabilitation benefits you are eligible for.

Does my insurance cover the cost of rehabilitation of home care after I leave the hospital?

Some insurance providers do not cover these services even if your doctor or physical therapist has recommended it. Call your insurance company in advance to determine if these services are covered. Whether or not you are a candidate for rehabilitation or home care depends on your progress after surgery. Many insurance providers do not cover hospital beds, wheelchairs, tub or shower chairs, grab bars or three-in-one commode chairs for patients who have had total joint replacement surgery.

Who will make the arrangements for my post hospital care?

A discharge planning nurse or social worker will consider your insurance benefits to coordinate your discharge treatment plan.

Will I need help at home?

Yes. The first several days or weeks, depending on your progress, you will need someone to assist you with meal preparation, housekeeping, etc. If you go directly home from the hospital, family or friends need to be available to help.

Will I need physical therapy when I go home?

Yes. Physical therapy will continue after you go home with a therapist in your home or at an outpatient physical therapy facility. The length of time required for type of therapy varies with each patient. We will help you make these arrangements before you go home.

How long until I can drive and get back to my normal activities?

The ability to drive depends on whether surgery was on your right or left leg and the type of car you drive. If the surgery was on your left leg and you have an automatic transmission, you could be driving at two weeks. If the surgery was on your right leg, driving could be restricted up to six weeks. Typically, when you are discharged from the hospital you will be independent with basic activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing. Getting back to normal will depend somewhat on your progress. Within six months you will be able to resume most of your pre-surgical activities based upon your physician’s recommendation.

When will I be able to get back to work?

We recommend that most people take at least one month off from work, even if your job allows you to sit frequently. More strenuous jobs will require a longer absence from work.

Do you recommend any restrictions following total joint replacement surgery?

Your surgeon and team will discuss restrictions that will keep your joint healthy and protected.