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As patients age and their concerns about maintaining a better quality of life grow, joint reconstruction surgery becomes a reality for more and more of them. Nationally, there are over a million joint replacement procedures every year, with the large majority being hip and knee replacement surgeries.
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we perform more than 1,000 joint replacement surgeries annually at our state-of-the-art orthopedic facility. Our comprehensive program begins with Joint Class, a sort of dress rehearsal to help prepare patients for what they will experience in their procedure, from beginning to end.
The expertise of our fellowship-trained surgeons, combined with the strengths and resources that come with being part of a major medical center, help us achieve a patient satisfaction level of over 95% for our total knee and total hip replacement surgeries.
If you think there may be a knee or hip replacement in your future, we can provide you with the comprehensive background to help you make an informed decision about your treatment. Here are some questions we frequently get asked:
- When should someone start to consider surgery?
This is a complex question, as every patient is different. Usually, the affected party is experiencing chronic pain that is interfering with performing basic activities of daily living… and they’re noticing their pain medications no longer offer relief.The majority of people in this situation are 50 to 80 years old and suffer from age-related degenerative arthritis in the joint. Eighty percent of people who have total hip or total knee replacement have osteoarthritis; another 10–15% suffer from inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. And occasionally we see a patient who’s had a traumatic injury to the joint, as in the case of professional football and baseball player Bo Jackson.
- What factors lead to choosing surgery?
The conversation around choosing surgery may begin when you tell your primary care doctor that “My knees (or my hips) are really hurting again… and I’m just not getting any better with the medicine you prescribed.” Your doctor will likely tell you it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist, and that’s when I’ll see you. Many patients also skip the primary care path and come directly to us with their serious joint pain.The orthopedic surgeon will give your affected joint or joints a thorough examination and take x-rays to view the level and type of damage present there. He or she can also help you understand options to better manage your pain via non-surgical approaches, such as reducing your weight, exercising properly, medication, or even injections to help reduce inflammation that causes pain.And of course, the orthopedic surgeon can help you assess if and when it’s time to consider surgical options and discuss which of those may be right for you. In the end, the decision is always yours.
- How do I prepare for joint replacement surgery?
Your surgeon will work with you, your doctor, and other specialists to ensure you’re medically ready for your procedure. This can include helping you with weight reduction, getting your blood sugar in line if you’re diabetic, and making sure no medical conditions are present that might complicate surgery for you.Before your surgery, we’ll enroll you in Joint Class, where you’ll use the time before your surgery to prepare, not just for the procedure but also for the post-operative rehab. You’ll learn what to expect and get practical experience with the exercises you’ll need to do afterwards. Besides the physical benefits, we find that Joint Class can help you feel less anxious going into surgery. So, you’re better prepared when you leave the hospital—and more likely to have a faster recovery.
Most knee or hip joint replacement patients will leave the hospital in 1–3 days. And when they leave, they leave walking, says orthopedic surgeon Dr. James E. Tozzi. Learn more. https://bit.ly/31HtFoZ via @MedStarWHC
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- What can I expect from my surgery… and from recovery?
Typically, from beginning to end, the average total knee or total hip replacement surgery requires about two hours—perhaps a little less, depending upon the patient. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, your surgeon is supported by a highly proficient surgical team, and the full resources of a major medical center in the rare instance where a complication might arise.Most recovering patients will leave the hospital in a range of one to three days. Day One following surgery, there’s usually physical therapy, sometimes even while you’re in the recovery room. And when you leave, you leave walking. So you return home already mobile, maybe even able to climb stairs. We control any pain with medication, which you may take for anywhere from a few days to up to three months.Depending on your unique scenario, we look for you to return to full activity at about six weeks. Of course, that can depend on what “full activity” means for you. You probably won’t be back on the golf course for about three months. But swimming is okay once the incision is fully healed. Walking is immediate—it’s just a matter of building up endurance.
So What Can Joint Replacement Candidates Expect From MedStar Washington Hospital Center?
When you come to see us, you’ll first be thoroughly evaluated. It’s critically important that we work together to ensure you have the most successful outcome from your joint surgery. This includes preparing a checklist of things that your primary care physician will help you complete to get you medically ready for your procedure.
We also give you access to the physical therapists, social workers, and Advanced Practice Providers who work with us, and their input is also addressed as part of the process. Then, you will attend Joint Class to get you fully prepped and looking forward to your successful surgery. In addition, our Joint Coordinator will ensure that, when your prep is complete, you have a surgery date scheduled.
Before, during, and after your surgery, we are caring and involved in a multidisciplinary way to effectively help worn-out or damaged joints. Our goal is always to give you the best outcome you can possibly expect and help you restore normal, healthy mobility to your life.