Frequently Asked Questions
The following general information is based on questions often asked by patients and those who care for them. Speak with your doctor for specifics related to your condition.
- Who is a potential candidate for knee or hip replacement?
- Are there alternatives to joint replacement?
- Are there risks to the surgery?
- Will I need blood?
- How long can patients expect to be hospitalized after surgery?
- How long does it take to recuperate?
- How successful is joint replacement?
- What happens when joint replacements wear out?
Who is a potential candidate for knee or hip replacement?
When pain in the knee or hip severely limits the ability to walk, work or perform even simple activities, a joint replacement may be an excellent option. In some cases, when an individual has the problem in both knees (or both hips), fixing one can reduce the stress on the opposite joint, thus putting off having the second surgery for several years. The Cedars-Sinai Joint Replacement Program's orthopedic specialists are available for individual consultations to discuss which option is best for specific situations.
Are there alternatives to joint replacement?
In the early stages of arthritis, successful alternative treatments may include medication, exercise and arthroscopic surgery. However, since anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections do not change the progression of the disease, these conservative options eventually become ineffective. Joint replacement is a long-term answer for pain relief and returning to an active lifestyle.
Are there risks to the surgery?
Yes, total joint replacement surgery is a major operation and, therefore, entails some risks. The risks include, but are not limited to infection, which can ultimately result in the removal of the prosthesis, bleeding, nerve damage, and blood clots in the leg.
Thanks to our years of experience and expertise in the field, the Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedic Center's Joint Replacement Program has reduced these risks, achieving a high success rate for joint replacement surgeries. We take such precautions as prescribing antibiotics and surgical stockings to help prevent infection and blood clots - the most common complications of joint replacement surgery.
Will I need blood?
Most patients require a blood transfusion of between one and two units (pints) after surgery. Physicians generally encourage patients to donate their own blood (called an autologous blood donation) in advance. If a patient is unable to give blood, a family member or friend with the same blood type may donate some instead (called a directed donation). These types of blood donations ensure that right blood type is available. There are also new medications that can boost blood cell count, eliminating the need to donate blood.
How long can patients expect to be hospitalized after surgery?
Hospital stays generally range from two to five days for total knee replacement and two to six days for total hip replacement. The new minimally invasive procedures being performed by our surgeons typically get our patients out of the hospital sooner, with less pain and a faster overall recovery. On occasion, patients may be admitted to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility after being discharged from the hospital. However, our goal is to eliminate the need for such interim care. Through the preoperative education , combined with physical therapy and home health services, most of our patients return to everyday activities within a one or two.
How long does it take to recuperate?
Recovery varies with each person. Generally, patients begin physical therapy the day after surgery. Once home, some patients use a walker for four weeks to protect the new joint while it heals. It usually takes two to four weeks to get back behind the wheel. Most people gradually increase their activities during the next six to eight weeks; some play golf, doubles tennis or go bowling in 12 weeks. Sports that cause impact to the new joint, such as singles tennis or jogging, are not recommended, however.
How successful is joint replacement?
Both knee and hip joint replacements are recognized as miracles of modern surgery. Most orthopedic specialists consider it the best way to treat the pain and restore the loss of mobility from severe arthritis. It has allowed hundreds of thousands of people with arthritis to get back on their feet and resume an active lifestyle.
What happens when joint replacements wear out?
Today most artificial joints last 15 to 20 years under normal wear, but they can wear out sooner if subjected to vigorous activity. When a joint wears out, loosens or develops a problem, it can be resurfaced or replaced in a joint revision.