Still, recovery can be a long, difficult road for which patients should be mentally and physically prepared.
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.
Glenn, 54, of Chappaqua, N.Y., who had a double hip replacement remembers the importance of post-op narcotics: "Everybody including my macho football-playing friend who had a knee replacement said, 'Don't be a brave guy. Take as much painkiller as you need. Don't be macho, don't let the pain get in front of you. Just keep taking it.'"