By Michelle Keller | Photography courtesy of Prescouter
Advanced technology has decreased recovery times for hip and knee replacement surgeries, making it possible for most patients to walk out of the hospital the next day.
Our bodies are much like our vehicles. Sometimes even the best care, including changing the quality of what goes in the machine can still result in a need for repair or replacement. In years past any type of total replacement therapy was considered a ‘major’ surgery.
Utilizing technology and a well-trained staff, OrthoMemphis has accelerated the recovery time of these procedures. If you are considering a hip or knee replacement but are leery of the downtime away from work and play—think again. This isn’t your grandfather’s hip replacement.
According to Dr. Drew Wodowski, who specializes in both hip and knee replacement at OrthoMemphis in Southaven, Mississippi, the most common indication for a hip or knee replacement in 2018 is severe, painful arthritis of the affected joint that has not improved with non-surgical management.
“For either the hip or the knee, there are other specific indications such as arthritis from previous trauma, avascular necrosis (decreased blood flow to the hip resulting in dead bone), joint or limb malalignment, and trauma (like a hip fracture),” he says.
Physical therapy (PT) can be an option in all stages of osteoarthritis. “When arthritis occurs, the affected joint can be unstable, and the goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the dynamic stabilizers of the joint (muscles and their tendons) around it to provide stability,” says Wodowski.
“In early stages of arthritis, PT can decrease the rapidity of progression of arthritis. In later stages, PT can be used to keep muscles strong before replacement so that they are in top shape after surgery,” he adds. “After surgery, PT is used to maintain range of motion of the joint and provide stability such that recovery is smooth and pain-free as possible.”
Hip and knee replacement surgery today are very different than they were even five years ago. Gone are the days of long hospital stays and arduous recovery. In fact, most patients go home to their own house after surgery.
“In my practice, I use a rapid recovery joint replacement protocol with multimodal anesthesia,” says Wodowski. “What this means is that most patients leave the hospital the day after their surgery, with well-controlled pain.”
Wodowski indicates this is driven by recent advancements in anesthesia, surgical techniques, and pain control pills that work in many different manners to alleviate pain from different pathways.
“For knee replacement, I use a technique called ‘gap balancing’ that allows the replaced knee to move and bend through a full range of motion without instability,” he explains. “This produces a consistently stable knee and makes rehab easier.”
According to Wodowski, the direct anterior approach in hip replacement has been shown to decrease recovery times. It also allows perfect placement of the hip components using a new x-ray-based tool.
“The implants that I use for knee and hip replacement are also very advanced, with many customizable features that can be tailored to individual anatomy. The longevity of the implants has been proven to be excellent.”
The biggest question patients have when considering any type of surgical procedure is what can they expect during recovery.
“After surgery, you will be walking on your joint the same day with a walker and assistance of a therapist,” Wodowski explains.
He says it takes a replaced joint up to a year to recover so that the patient gets the maximum benefit, but the first 4-to-6 weeks are where the real progress is made. Hard work with therapy and maintaining range of motion in the replaced joint is the mainstay of recovery. Walking around the house and around the block or to the grocery store or going out for dinner is encouraged from the time you leave the hospital. Wodowski indicates that while you should refrain from serious physical activity like running, squats, road cycling etc., for six weeks after the replacement, most activities are fine from day one.
Contrary to popular belief or archaic doctrine, the use of replacement is not actually dictated by a patient’s age. “The degree of osteoarthritis, and the patient’s overall medical health are the two most important factors when considering replacement therapy,” says Wodowski. “Hip and knee replacements have been shown to be successful in patients over 85-to-90 years old.”
Many people suffer unnecessarily for years with chronic joint pain. Sacrificing six short weeks in recovery could make the difference in the overall quality of life. If joint pain is interrupting your daily routine, replacement therapy may be the answer. If you’ve tried injections and exhausted PT, the time to consider surgery is now. With advanced technology and a rapid recovery time, OrthoMemphis can assist you from start to finish.