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Realistic Expectations

A joint replacement can cure pain, but it can't restore the hip or knee you had when you were younger. People shouldn't expect to move the joint the way they did 20 or 30 years ago, Schneiderbauer says.

As for Pepper, he went forward with his knee replacement. After four months of intense rehabilitation, the pain was gone. He's back to speed-walking and climbs 100 steps every day to keep his knee strong. On a recent vacation to Italy and Croatia, he wore a pedometer. "There were times when I comfortably walked 7 miles in a day," he says. "It feels like my knee now."

Pepper's advice: Consider a joint replacement "if pain is interfering with how you want to live your life."