Frequently Asked Questions

What is osteoarthritis and why does my knee/hip hurt?

Joint cartilage is a tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones where joints are located. It helps cushion the bones during movement, and because it is smooth and slippery, it allows for motion with minimal friction. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a wear and tear condition that destroys joint cartilage. Sometimes as the result of trauma, repetitive movement, or for no apparent reason, the cartilage wears down. Cartilage destruction can result in painful bone-on-bone contact, along with swelling and loss of motion. Back to top

What is joint replacement?

Joint replacement is one of the great orthopedic surgical advances. Surgeries of this type often involve conditions such as degenerative arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or joint damage. Our orthopedic surgeons observe and manage the disorder to determine the most beneficial time and type of surgical intervention. Just as no two patients are alike, no two joint replacements are exactly the same. That’s why our care is precisely focused on the unique medical and lifestyle needs of each patient.

In the total joint replacement procedure, our orthopedic surgeon removes the arthritic or damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with smooth, artificial surfaces. These artificial surfaces are called “implants” or “prostheses.” The implants are specifically designed to restore smooth, low-friction movement. While the hip and knee are by far the most commonly replaced joints, our physicians also have in-depth experience with the shoulder, ankle, and other joints. Back to top

What is partial (unicompartmental) joint replacement?

The knee has three joints (compartments), any or all of which can be impacted by osteoarthritis:

  • The inside (medial) compartment
  • The outside (lateral) compartment
  • The kneecap (patellofemoral) compartment

If you have early stage arthritis confined to one compartment of the knee, your doctor may recommend a partial joint replacement or UKA (unicompartmental knee arthroplasty). Damaged surfaces of the single compartment are removed and resurfaced. Patients interested in partial joint replacement must meet specific criteria for consideration. Back to top

When should I have joint replacement surgery?

If you have difficulty walking or performing everyday activities, it may be time to consider joint replacement surgery. The orthopedic surgeons of Heartland Orthopedic Specialists will perform a thorough evaluation to determine if joint replacement surgery is right for you. Typically, joint replacement is considered when conservative, less aggressive treatments have failed. Back to top

Am I too old for joint replacement surgery?

Age is generally not an issue if you are in reasonable health and have the desire to continue living a productive, active life. Back to top

What are the primary benefits of joint replacement surgery?

Knee and hip joint replacement have been widely used for many years with excellent results. Advances in surgical technique, implant technology, medications, and rehabilitation have led to less discomfort, improved outcomes, and quicker recovery. Typical benefits of joint replacement surgery include pain relief, improved movement and use of a joint, and improved alignment of deformed joints. Back to top

How long can I expect to be in the hospital following joint replacement surgery?

On average, total joint replacement surgery patients are hospitalized for 1-2 days. Partial or unicompartmental knee replacement patients and anterior approach hip replacement patients are generally able to go home the day after surgery. If you are having a bilateral knee replacement, expect to be discharged in 2-3 days . A highly qualified team of nurses and physical and occupational therapists work with you, your surgeon, and the total joint team to keep you comfortable and progressing toward your goal of returning home. Back to top

Is physical therapy necessary following joint replacement surgery?

It is generally recommended to continue with two to six visits of outpatient physical therapy for advancement of your exercises during postoperative rehabilitation. As each patient has their own unique needs, some will require less intervention and others more. Back to top

Can you share your joint replacement outcomes and complication rates with me?

Our orthopedic surgeons and Joint Care Coordinator are happy to share up-to-date information with you. Feel free to contact us at any time. 

How long will my joint implant last?

The longevity of joint implants varies from patient to patient. Factors such as the patient’s physical condition and activity level, weight, and general health affect longevity. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website reports the ten-year success rate with most prostheses today is about 95 percent. Knee implants may last more than 20 years, and the chance of a hip replacement lasting 20 years is 85-90 percent. Back to top

What kind of activities can I expect to pursue following joint replacement surgery?

Regular performance of low-impact exercise is recommended to maintain your fitness and health of the muscles around your new joint(s). Low-impact activities may include walking, dancing, golf, hiking, swimming, bowling, and gardening at your surgeon’s discretion. Back to top