Hip Replacement Surgery and Knee Replacement in Costa Rica: Top 10 Q&A

At some point in your life you or a loved one may have to undergo surgery to have a hip or knee replaced, or both. You will probably go into the process with fears and apprehension of just what to expect.

Follow are the top 10 questions related to both hip and knee replacement answered just for you to ensure you are well prepared for your procedure!

  1. What is a hip replacement?

    Hip replacement (arthroplasty), is a surgical procedure in which the medical professional will remove the diseased parts of your hip and replace them with new, artificial parts (prosthetics). The main goals of a hip replacement is to improve your mobility by providing pain relief and improve your functioning back toward the level it used to be.

  2. Who should have a hip replacement?

    The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is simply the wearing out of the hip joint from arthritis, which affects the bones. There are also other health conditions that may also lead to damage of the hip joint and increase the need for a replacement such as avascular necrosis (from inadequate blood supply), injuries, and bone tumors.

    If x-rays show a high amount of damage to your hip, most likely surgery will be recommended for you.

    If you are at a high risk for infection or overall in poor health and less likely to recover with success, this procedure may not be the best choice.

  3. Are there alternatives to a total hip replacement?

    Before a hip replacement is considered you may be taught exercises to help distribute your weight, decrease your pain, and restore any function you´ve lost.

    Medications may be prescribed in order to decrease your pain and any inflammation.
    Your doctor may also suggest corrective surgery that is not as complex as a total hip replacement in order to restore your joint to its correct position and help distribute your weight more evenly to decrease your pain.

  4. “What does hip replacement surgery involve?”

    Your surgeon will remove the diseased bone, tissue and cartilage from your hip while leaving all the healthy parts intact, then artificial joints will be placed to allow for a natural, smooth and gliding motion of your joint.

    Surgery usually lasts 2 to 3 hours.

    The surgeon may use cement to bond the new joint to your existing bone or use artificial joints that are porous and will allow your bone to grow into the pores to hold it all in place.

  5. Will I have to be put to sleep?

    Being put to sleep with general anesthesia is a safe option, but hip replacements can be performed under regional anesthesia without being put to sleep completely, which is preferred because it can reduce complications and make your recovery quicker.

  6. Will my prosthesis be better with or without cement?

    Cemented prostheses were developed 40 years ago, and those without cement were developed about 20 years ago.

    Each person´s situation is unique, so you and your doctor will weigh the risks and benefits to choose which way will be right for you.

    Prosthetics without cement may last longer because there is no cement that can break away over time.

    If you need an additional hip replacement (revision), the surgery most likely will be easier if you have artificial joints without cement.

    Cemented prostheses have been shown to reduce pain and increase joint mobility immediately after surgery.

  7. What should I expect right after surgery?

    Only limited movement, as directed, will be allowed right after surgery.

    When in bed, your hip joint will be stabilized with a special device to maintain its position.

    You´ll have an IV with fluids infusing to replace any that were lost during surgery and medication will be prescribed to maintain any pain you may have.

    Your surgeon may place a drain near your incision site to drain any fluid and prevent swelling.

    You may have a urinary catheter placed until you are able to bear weight and get to the bathroom.

  8. How long will my recovery and rehabilitation time be?

    Either on the day of your surgery or on the day following, physical therapists will teach you exercises that will make your recovery time quicker.

    As early as 1 or 2 days after surgery, you may be able to sit on the edge of the bed, stand, and maybe even walk with assistance.

    Usually people spend less than 2 weeks in the hospital after their surgery.

    Full recovery may take up to 6 months depending upon your condition, how well you tolerate rehabilitation, and how well your surgery went overall.

  9. Are there complications of hip replacement surgery?

    New technology and medical advancements have greatly reduced the risks involved.

    The most common problem that may happen soon after your surgery is hip dislocation.

    The most common problem that may occur later is inflammation from areas of the artificial joint that wear off with time.

    Less common complications could include infection and blood clots.

  10. What exercises will be the best for me after my hip replacement?

    Exercise should be performed as tolerated and it will help reduce joint pain and stiffness, while also increasing your flexibility and muscle strength.

    Your doctor and physical therapist will determine what exercises are appropriate for you depending upon your condition and how well you progress.

    It’s best to avoid high-impact activities such as basketball, jogging and tennis; it is better to engage in things such as swimming, walking and stationary bicycling.

Now, let´s talk about knee replacements and answer some questions that may have you wondering:

  1. When is the right time for me to have a knee replacement?

    If you begin to notice that you are having trouble on a daily basis performing activities that you normally do, you may be a candidate.

    Your physician and a surgeon will perform thorough examinations to determine whether or not it will be the most beneficial choice for you.

  2. Is there a way I can avoid a knee replacement?

    Some people can alter their lifestyle in ways to avoid the more strenuous activities that they are used to doing.

    You can learn exercises that may help reduce your pain and restore your function.

    Medications may be prescribed for you to reduce any pain and inflammation.

    Having steroid injections may also be an option to reduce inflammation in the damaged knee tissues.

  3. What will happen during surgery and how long will it take?

    An incision will be made on the top of your knee to expose the damaged area of your joint; incisions usually range from 4 to 10 inches long.

    The kneecap will be moved aside and any damaged tissues, bones and cartilage will be removed.

    Once the damaged parts are removed, they will be replaced with artificial parts that will mimic the natural movement of your knee.

    Most procedures will take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.

  4. What artificial parts are used and how are they kept in place?

    The artificial parts that are placed are made of metal and medical-grade plastic.

    They are sealed to your bone either with cement or parts with a porous surface will be used so that your natural bone can grow into it.

    Some surgeons will use both approaches in order to hold your artificial parts in place.

  5. About the anesthesia – should I be concerned?

    Any surgery with anesthesia has its risks; however the rates for complications are low.

    Based on your condition going in the knee replacement, the anesthesia team will determine which type is the best for you.

  6. Will there be much pain after surgery?

    There will be pain because an incision was made in your knee and your bones/tissues were manipulated, but this pain should diminish quickly within a maximum of 5 days.

    Your doctor will prescribe the right medications to help decrease your pain both during your hospital stay and when you are released.

    Some people may have pain that lasts up to a year, but generally the pain is tolerable.

    The more willing you are to participate with physical therapy exercises, the less pain you will endure in the long run.

  7. What can I expect during my recovery and rehabilitation?

    Most of the time patients who have a knee replacement will be up and walking within a day or two with a walker and/or crutches.

    Physical therapy will continue on a regular basis for weeks either at home or in a long-term care facility to improve the functioning of your knee and ensure that it is working smoothly.

    During the first few weeks after surgery, your doctor will wean you off of pain medication.

  8. Should I do anything special to prepare my home for recovery?

    If you live in a multiple story home, make sure you will have space for yourself on the ground floor to avoid the stairs when you first come home for a few weeks.

    Make sure the house is free of hazards that could cause you to trip such as area rugs, electrical cords, clutter and furniture.

    You may want to install some handrails in the bathroom in order to have a better experience in the shower and using the toilet.

  9. Will I have any special equipment after my knee replacement?

    Most likely you will be recommended to use a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine at home when you are lying on a flat surface.

    CPM machines help to increase your knee motion during the first few weeks after surgery and slow the development of scar tissue so that you can achieve the maximum range of motion.

  10. What activities will I be able to engage in?

    You should be able to resume normal daily activities such as walking and bathing within several days.

    Low impact exercises should also be okay to engage in after your rehabilitation period, typically in 6 to 12 weeks.

    You should avoid high impact exercises such as running and jumping.

  11. How long will my artificial knee last and will I ever need a revision?

    Generally, knee replacements last upwards of 20 years.

    The wear and tear on your joint will have adverse effects, so if you assume the appropriate care and avoid activities that have an extra impact on your joint you´ll have the best results.

    The younger you are, the more likely it is you will have to undergo a revision at some point in your life.

Ultimately, hip and knee replacements are major surgical procedures that can affect the way you live your day to day life. Being motivated, participating with therapy services, and making sure to receive the proper care for your artificial joint(s) after surgery will increase your chances of a much better outcome.

Don´t wait until it´s too late to get your artificial joint placed, because this life is too short to live it in pain.

Article ID Number 5734

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