Best Ways to Heal Quickly From Hip or Knee Replacement
Hip and knee replacement surgery is one of the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. In fact, doctors perform about 700,000 total knee replacements and 400,000 total hip replacements each year.
Every patient is unique in terms of their recovery from knee or hip replacement surgery. Some patients heal more quickly than others, but every patient can take steps to position themselves for a quicker recovery. Stephen Rossman, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center and Palisades Medical Center, suggests five things that hip and knee replacement surgery patients can do to improve healing.
1. Know That Surgery Is Right for You
The number one thing that will help you recover quickly, Dr. Rossman says, happens before surgery. First, you have to determine if the surgery is absolutely right for you.
“Have you already tried all of the conservative treatments, like using a cane, anti-inflammatories, getting injections or losing weight?” Dr. Rossman says. “Is your quality of life being affected? And is your goal to get back to a pain-free lifestyle?”
2. Have Realistic Expectations
If surgery is right for you, it’s time to prepare yourself mentally. It is a major surgery and will take some time to recover. There will be some pain and maybe even some setbacks. Keeping realistic expectations is critical to the healing process.
“Most patients are up and walking around the same day of surgery,” Dr. Rossman says. “You’re certainly not running a marathon the next day without any pain, but ultimately your pain should be much better than before the surgery, once you have completely recovered.”
3. Get Healthy and Reduce Narcotics Usage
If you are on chronic narcotics before your surgery, talk to your doctor about the weaning process or alternative pain management options. Patients who take narcotics pre-surgery have a harder time getting out of pain post-surgery.
“Our goal is to get you out of pain and out of the hospital quickly so you can begin the work of healing at home,” Dr. Rossman says. “If you’re still in a good deal of pain, we can’t send you home.”
Similarly, you’ll improve your chances of a quick recovery if you don’t smoke and your BMI is below 40. Smoking and obesity are surgical risk factors, so quit smoking and do what you can to lose weight before surgery, if necessary.
4. Participate in Pre-Surgery Physical Therapy
Patients who do physical therapy before surgery—known as “prehab”—often mobilize more quickly than others. The stronger you are before surgery, Dr. Rossman says, the stronger you’ll be afterward.
“You may have to walk with a cane afterward, so why not build up your upper body strength now?” he says
5. Have Support at Home
Proper healing will not happen if you don’t have help at home. You will most likely not require around-the-clock care, but you’ll need someone to check on you, help you take care of things around the house and do daily tasks. Since most hip and knee replacement patients leave the hospital within 24 hours of surgery, it’s important to have help at least for a little while.
But not too long. It used to be that hip and knee replacement patients laid around in the hospital for a week after surgery, but that’s no longer the case. Now, it’s all about getting the surgery done, then getting you home, where it’s your turn to do the work, Dr. Rossman says. In fact, patients who have surgery in the morning are usually up and moving in the hospital in the afternoon.
“Once the surgery ends, your work begins. You’ll have to do rehab and different exercises and stay mobile to start healing,” he says. “The quicker you move, the quicker you’ll recover.”
Learn more about our Joint Replacement Program and how we are helping patients get back to their life.
Dr. Rossman practices in Hackensack and North Bergen. To make an appointment, call 551-996-8867.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons