Healthy You - Every Day

Is Total Joint Replacement Right for You?

Answers to five common questions


Knee and hip pain due to injury or osteoarthritis can become a daily ordeal – but is total joint replacement surgery right for you? Six Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute surgeons share what to consider and expect.

Orthopedic surgeons Eric Lebby, MD, Kevin Anbari, MD, Wayne Luchetti, MD, Christopher Ferrante, MD, Tom Meade, MD, and Jonathon Brown, DO, answer key questions on how to know if you need joint replacement surgery and what to expect if you do.

How do I know if I need joint replacement surgery?

Once diagnostic tests confirm osteoarthritis, nonsurgical options such as weight loss, physical therapy, pain medication and joint injections may help. “Joint replacement is the last option to consider after first trying more conservative measures,” says Eric Lebby, MD, Chief, Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Does joint pain diminish your quality of life? Regularly cause sleep loss? Impair normal function or activities, including work and recreation? If so, surgery may be called for.

Am I too old (or young) for surgery?

Many people get total joint replacement surgery in their 60s or older after a lifetime of joint wear and tear. “But age isn’t the most important consideration,” says orthopedic surgeon Wayne Luchetti, MD. “A younger person can be a candidate if joint damage is significant enough.” In older people, overall health and ability to recover counts more than age.

What happens during joint replacement surgery?

A surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone, and replaces them with prosthetic components designed to relieve pain and restore function. “A variety of specialized tools and technologies, including robotic surgery, allow us to precisely adapt the implant to each person’s anatomy to maximize function after surgery,” says orthopedic surgeon Kevin Anbari, MD.

Why should I consider robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery?

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute has robotic technology to assist in replacing the body’s largest joint – the knees. “The robotic system helps the surgeon fine-tune and balance the knee replacement. The robot can make a great surgeon event better,” says orthopedic surgeon Christopher Ferrante, MD. “By being more precise, we can tailor the operation more closely to the needs of the patient and can theoretically improve outcomes and satisfaction.”

What happens after joint replacement surgery?

Your doctor will encourage you to start using the new joint as soon as possible – even the same day as surgery.  “With modern pain protocols and surgical techniques, patients are commonly walking and full weight bearing a few hours after surgery. Specific therapy exercises are initiated and advanced to regain strength and return to normal activities. ” says orthopedic surgeon Tom Meade, MD

How long will recovery take?

Everyone’s recovery is different. But most people return home in a day and can ride an exercise bike within two weeks. “Pain immediately after surgery is often less than prior pain from arthritis,” says orthopedic surgeon Jonathon Brown, DO. After recovering with help from physical therapy and exercise, most people can return to normal, pain-free activities within eight to 12 weeks.

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