Last updated: Apr 06, 2008
Choosing Hip and Knee Surgery
Two patients share their struggle with the decision Read more
New pain relief techniques mean patients can have painkillers delivered efficiently and with greater success. When Judy Street, 67, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., opted for knee replacement because she couldn't do anything with her grandchildren, she was nervous. A friend had told her the post-operative pain would be excruciating. But her anesthesiologist gave her two pain control options: a patient-controlled infusion pump delivering pain relief medicine or a two-day epidural implant which automatically delivers pain relief. She opted for the implant and was pleased that her leg felt pretty much numb in the days after surgery.
Jump right into rehab
For Street, gentle physical therapy began the day after surgery. "It didn't hurt because my leg was numb from the epidural anyway," says Street. "I pretty much got up after the third day when they took the epidural out." Therapy then intensified to twice a day, for about an hour.
Eight months before his hip replacement, Charles, 66, from Grantham, N.H., started going to the gym three times a week, using a treadmill and strengthening his leg and abdominal muscles. His surgeon credited the regimen for optimizing his recovery time.
The amount of time it takes to get back to normal life varies for each patient. For Charles, it took six months to get back 100%. In part it was his fault, he says. "I went back to work way too fast. You've got to listen to your doctor and have common sense. Next time I do this I'll be in a better frame of mind and I'll have had more experience."