Knee- and Hip-Replacement Surgery Facts

Test your knowledge and understand what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to knee- or hip-replacement surgery.

Fiction. Surgery is an option when the pain and disability caused by your knee or hip keeps you up at night or interferes with your daily routine. In addition, delaying surgery could negatively impact the outcome. Because a primary reason for having surgery is degenerative arthritis (continues to damage the joint), waiting too long may make the surgery and recovery more difficult.

Fiction. Thanks to advances in technology, there is no such thing as too young or too old for knee- or hip-replacement surgery. Improved implants mean younger patients can enjoy their new joints for 10–20 years with a low risk of needing repeat surgeries. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 38% of all knee-replacement patients are younger than 64 years of age. For older patients, the benefits of less pain and increased mobility and independence usually outweigh the risks of surgery.

Fiction. While it’s true that you likely won’t be able to participate in higher-impact activities, like long-distance running, most people can move around better and be more active after surgery—provided they undergo proper physical therapy. If you’re motivated to work hard and set goals for yourself, what you can achieve may surprise you!

Fact. Like any profession, skill and experience vary from surgeon to surgeon. It has been proven that patients get the best outcomes when knee- or hip-replacement surgeries are performed by a surgeon who has done a high number of these procedures at a facility that also handles a high number of these surgeries. Get it right the first time by taking the time to find a surgeon you trust.

Fiction. A knee or hip replacement is just the start. It’s important not to underestimate the amount of work you need to do in order to experience the full benefits of joint replacement. This includes taking all the medications prescribed by your healthcare professional—including antibiotics, pain medications, and a blood thinner to prevent blood clots—exercise to regain mobility and strength, and finally, physical therapy. You may not know it, but your body has likely adopted compensation strategies for dealing with knee or hip pain, so these things will also need to be addressed during physical therapy.