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If you have arthritis of the hip or knee and are considering joint replacement, start by talking with your doctor. Here are 10 key questions to ask about joint replacement.

  1. Is full joint replacement the best choice for me? Talk about other options. Could simpler and more conservative treatments work instead? Ask about alternatives to full joint replacement, such as partial joint replacement or other procedures.
  2. If I don't get surgery, what's the risk? Is there any harm in waiting?
  3. What are the downsides of joint replacement? Learn more about the risks and complications – for right after the surgery and further down the road.
  4. What type of replacement joint would you recommend? Many different companies make replacement joints. Get the specifics on what your doctor recommends. Ask if you can see a sample joint to understand how it works.
  5. How many of these surgeries have you done? You want someone with a lot of experience in the specific surgery -- with the specific artificial joint -- that you need.
  6. Would minimally invasive surgery be possible for me? Although minimally invasive surgery sounds good, it's often not the best choice for joint replacement. Some studies show that the short-term benefits of a smaller incision may be offset by a higher risk of complications.
  7. How long would recovery take? Get specifics. When will you be able to be back on your feet? When will you be able to exercise or go back to work again? When will you be able to be drive?
  8. What kind of anesthesia would I need? Some people getting a joint replacement need general anesthesia. Others only get spinal anesthesia, in which they're awake but the legs are numb.
  9. What kind of physical therapy would I need? Physical therapy is essential for maximum recovery. Find out where you would get physical therapy, how often, and with whom.
  10. What should I expect from life with a joint replacement? Get realistic expectations about what you'll be able to do after you recover. Find out if your doctor would recommend avoiding high-impact activity, such as jogging. Most replacement joints will last 10 years or longer, but it depends on how much overuse they get. Ask about ways you can try to minimize wear and tear.