Your Guide to Joint Replacement for Osteoarthritis
Preparing for the Surgery and Its Aftermath continued...
Your new knee or hip can last for more than 15 years, especially if you treat it well. But the more stress and strain you put on the joint, the sooner it is likely to wear out or become loose. Just as before you had joint replacement surgery, activities that put less weight on your joints, like swimming and cycling, are particularly good for exercising a new joint without overstressing it.
In order to get the most function out of your new joint, there’s a lot of hard work to be done right after surgery. You’ll probably be in the hospital for several days, and during this time, physical therapists will teach you the right kind of exercises to do to restore movement in the affected joints.
But after you go home, it will be up to you to keep up with the exercise program that your surgeon and physical therapist provide. A surgeon can put in the new knee or hip, but no one but you can exercise it. Before pursuing joint replacement surgery, you should commit to an exercise program that will include:
- Regular walking, first at home and later outdoors and for longer distance, aimed at gradually and safely increasing your mobility
- Gradually resuming other normal daily activities, like standing, climbing stairs, and getting up and down from a chair
- Daily, regular exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around your new joint; after your physical therapist teaches you these exercises, you can often do them at home.
If you do all of these things, you are likely to have an excellent outcome should you choose joint replacement surgery. According to a study published in June 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, older adults who had joint replacement surgery improved significantly on measurements of arthritis symptoms one year later compared with people who did not have the surgery.