Saturday, January 20 , 2018, 6:59 am | Fair 48º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

What to Expect with Joint Replacement Surgery

Click to view larger
(Cottage Health photo)

It starts with joint pain, usually from arthritis. The activities you once enjoyed are now becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, due to painful, restricted motion.

The joint pain can get to the point of drastically interfering with the quality of your life, and it can be discouraging and debilitating.

Fortunately, joint replacement surgery has come a long way and now includes minimally invasive procedures. Most patients find that after a joint replacement and proper rehabilitation they can return to most, if not all, activities they once enjoyed.

If you are a candidate for a joint replacement, you probably have many questions about what to expect from your journey before, during and after surgery.

To help you better understand the procedure and the recovery, here are some important insights from Dr. Daniel Craviotto, an orthopedic surgeon at Cottage Center for Orthopedics.

Patients trust the Cottage Center for Orthopedics for more than 1,300 joint replacements each year, and the center is nationally recognized with the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and the Blue Distinction Center designation from national Blue Cross Blue Shield companies.

Before Surgery

Pre-surgery is a much more important time than many people realize.

“The patient’s post-operative recovery is dependent on their pre-operative fitness,” Craviotto said. “If you’re in shape, you may do extremely well at six weeks. If you’re not, it could take three months before you’re functioning well.”

» After you are referred to an orthopedic surgeon or make an appointment on your own, the surgeon will conduct a physical exam with X-rays to determine the condition of the joint and if it is severe enough to need joint replacement surgery.

» The surgeon will ask how much the condition is bothering you, what treatments you have tried, and at what point you would want to consider surgical treatment.

» If surgery is chosen, then there’s a Total Joint Class patients need to take. “The more information patients have, the better they do,” Craviotto said. “Patients find the class very reassuring, and it helps them know what to expect.”

» Next, you receive a call from the surgery scheduler who will set the date for your procedure.

» Two weeks before surgery, you will need an appointment with your primary care physician for an examination and lab work.

» Then, one week before surgery, you will have a pre-op visit at the hospital when a nurse will explain what will happen and go through a checklist of what you need to do to prepare for a healthy recovery.

» You will meet with the physical therapy team to understand what they do and how they can assist in helping you start to regain mobility.

» Finally, the discharge planner will go over home therapy options for you and who provides them.

At the Hospital

» You will arrive 90 minutes before surgery.

» The surgical procedure normally takes about two hours.

» Physical therapy actually starts the same day. You will be standing and walking some with assistance the same day as surgery.

» Most patients are in the hospital for two nights and three days.

» Recent advances in implant design and materials, along with anesthesia providing pain control with fewer narcotics, result in quicker healing and mobility for patients.

Back Home

» Before returning home, it is essential to have arrangements for a designated caregiver who will help with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and laundry for at least your first two weeks of recovery at home.

» You will have home physical therapy for three times a week for the first two weeks.

» Then you will have outpatient physical therapy two times a week for six weeks. You will start to notice improvements in your mobility within two to four weeks.

» For support while walking at first, most patients will use a walker for one to two weeks and then a cane for two weeks after that

While recovery times can vary depending on pre-operative fitness and other factors, it is important to know that improvements continue for 12 months after surgery as muscles and soft tissue get stronger and range of movement expands.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series