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Joint Replacement

This weeks blog post is going to discuss the topic of joint replacement as a treatment option for OA. Not every individual with OA will need or have joint replacement surgery for many reasons including personal preference, age and health related risk factors. However, it’s important that you are educated about all of your potential treatment options when it comes to managing OA.

Joint replacement surgery for knee and hip OA in particular, has become extremely common and routine. However, every surgery carries its own risks and it’s important that you are made fully aware of these risks prior to agreeing to an operation. Your consultant will be able to talk you through this in further detail.

Firstly, joint replacement surgery should never be the first/only option considered for OA. Our previous blog posts over the last 8 weeks have highlighted the benefits of other treatment options, with physiotherapy being the best non-invasive treatment. However, we know that OA is a progressive disease and although improvements will be made through exercise therapy, in some cases it is not enough to allow someone to reach their goals. In these circumstances joint replacement surgery can be an option.

You will need to be referred to an orthopaedic consultant and have X – rays of the joint prior to being considered. Unfortunately, the current waiting lists for joint replacement surgery are continuously rising and currently the waiting lists is approximately 2-5 years.

Despite what some health professionals will tell you, it almost always takes more than 3 months to recover from joint replacement surgery. Although pain levels should be better controlled soon after; it can be very common to experience soreness and swelling for more than 18 months after. Joint replacement surgery can be life changing, but it is crucial to have realistic expectations beforehand. Physiotherapy should be utilised at a minimum of 3 different stages during the OA and joint replacement journey.

  1. As a first line treatment modality.

  2. Preparation for joint replacement due to the extensive waiting lists. Research shows that the stronger and more able you are before surgery, the better your short term and long term outcomes will be after surgery.

  3. Intensive physiotherapy in the early stages following surgery, with a long term exercise plan in place. If you are not offered physiotherapy following a joint replacement, please ask for it, it is very important and could make all the difference to the replacement being a success or not.


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