Beyond Arthritis: Hip and Knee Replacements for Women
More and more women are seeking knee and hip replacements to maintain their active lifestyle.
Is a Joint Replacement Right for You?
Before you can start shopping for a new knee or hip, though, you should be thinking about whether joint replacement surgery is right for you. Here are three questions to ask yourself before plunging into surgery:
- What activities do you really want to return to?
- Is arthritis currently a daily burden that limits your activities, or just something that bothers you periodically?
- How prepared are you to be actively involved in your recovery?
"When your lifestyle starts changing because of your hip or your knee, and there are things you enjoy doing that you can no longer do, that's the time to start thinking about the surgery," says Mayman.
The Active Patient: Your Role in Recovery
If you aren't 100% invested in your own recovery, you may not be a good candidate for surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a major undertaking. Especially with knees, you can't just sit back and wait for your body to heal and become its old self again.
After surgery, you'll likely be in the hospital for three to four days, and then you'll be given a program of rehabilitation and physical therapy for at least six weeks.
"A large part of how well a patient does depends on how focused they are around rehabilitation," says Mayman. "Especially with knees, you have to work very hard on getting your range of motion back. If you don't do that, scar tissue can form in the knee and you get limited range of motion. With a hip replacement, what you really have to do is get up and walk, but with knees, it requires diligent attention to specific exercises. The harder you work in physical therapy, the more range of motion you'll get."
Newly designed knee replacements can help you with range of motion. Some artificial knees that have entered the market in the last five years are designed to allow the knee to flex more. But in order for your new knee to flex and move, you have to build strength in the soft tissues around it. Your recovery is up to you.