Joint replacements offer pain relief with shorter recovery

By: Jon Berg .

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As baby boomers settle into retirement or welcome grandchildren into the world, they don’t want a bad knee or hip to slow them down.

Every generation has always had pain with their joints, but Coridon Huez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota, says the aging population now does more to combat their joint pain.

“Nowadays people want to stay active,” Dr. Huez said. “They don’t like pain and they want to keep walking, keep golfing and doing other the things they enjoy without worrying about a bad knee or a bad hip.”

When a patient comes in with joint pain, Dr. Huez begins by first recommending non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone injections.

“I want them to make a solid effort at non-operative management,” he said.

For many patients, these remedies will offer relief, but it isn’t a cure-all. Over time, if the pain cannot be managed by one of these options, then joint replacement may become an option.

“It’s one of the most utilized surgeries out there,” Dr. Huez said.

Hip and knee replacements have been done for more than 30 years, but in the past they had higher complications and required longer hospital stays. Today, the percentage of success rate continues to climb with both hip and knee replacements and, on average, patients who have a hip replacement go home the next day.

“For the most part, the options haven’t changed. We’re just utilizing them at a greater frequency with greater success, and our patients aren’t staying in the hospital as long. They are able to go home after a day or two and do physical therapy and other exercises at home,” Dr. Huez said.

But the work isn’t done after a patient goes home. Dr. Huez said it’s important for patients to follow their doctor’s orders and complete all of their physical therapy and at-home exercises. However, it’s important not to overdo it either because there are things patients can do that will actually hurt the implant.

“I want patients to be part of their recovery and their healing process,” Dr. Huez said.