Don't Let Joint Pain Slow You Down

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If you have debilitating hip or knee pain that hasn’t responded to medications or physical therapy, you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery. At Lutheran Medical Center, we offer a comprehensive joint replacement program that will help you prepare for the procedure and get you back on your feet faster than you might think.

Hip Replacement Patient Takes It in Stride

Medical emergencies happen. They are usually unexpected and always unwelcome. Whatever the circumstances, experiencing a major health issue or injury can knock you down. When it happened to Beverly Brown, she wasn’t going to let it keep her down.

Brown’s fluke accident—a misstep on pavement—caused her to fall and break her hip. The break wasn’t obvious on her first X-ray, so she spent more than a week thinking it would get better. It didn’t. Once she came in to see Ian Weber, MD, at Lutheran Medical Center, he could hardly believe she’d been getting around as well as she had. Brown, 58, was scheduled for immediate surgery and had her right hip replaced later that evening.

Even more surprising, she went home the next day—less than 24 hours later—to begin her rehabilitation and start packing for a flight to Florida just three days after her surgery. Nothing was going to keep Brown from watching her son Jason’s promotion from captain to major in the U.S. Air Force. He is a pilot.

Her determination and otherwise good health and physical conditioning made her a great candidate for going home within a day of hip replacement surgery. The team at Lutheran was amazed at how well she did, even managing stairs before leaving the hospital. Rehabilitation since then has been relatively smooth, too. She was back at work less than three weeks after surgery.

Getting Ready

Patients who know what surgery entails and what to expect do much better overall, says Ian Weber, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Lutheran Medical Center. “Once we’ve decided that surgery is the best option, we discuss exactly what happens during the procedure and how we control pain and help facilitate a rapid recovery,” he says.

The education continues at Lutheran’s “Joint Camp,” a two-hour seminar held at the hospital. An orthopedic nurse and a rehabilitation specialist present information on pre-admission procedures and how to prepare the home for recovery.

“Our goal is to send patients directly home upon discharge,” says Kendra Casson, RN, Director of Care Management. “Patients heal the fastest at home, and that is truly where they desire to recover. We believe the best way to support our patents is a collaborative approach. We work closely with our patients, their families, our physician partners, the care team at Lutheran Medical Center and the community in order to coordinate the needed support systems and resources to set our patients up for success upon discharge.”

Lutheran Medical Center also cares for patients who require joint replacement as a result of a fracture sustained by a fall or other injury.

“Our goal in these cases is to complete the surgery within 24 hours after patients arrive in the emergency room,” says orthopedic hospitalist Michelle Henderson, MD. “After that, they go through the same rehabilitation process as elective patients, although they may need to go to a skilled nursing facility before returning home.”

Experience Matters

Joint replacement is never a one-size-fits-all procedure. Surgical approach, type of implant and the recovery plan are carefully customized based on the patient’s condition.

Dr. Weber notes that these decisions depend on surgical experience, as well. “It’s important for the surgeon to choose an approach that he or she is comfortable with and has done repeatedly,” he says.

Pain control is key to a fast recovery. The surgical team uses multiple forms of pain control during and immediately after the procedure to minimize the need for narcotic medications.

Patients are usually on their feet and walking with support within hours after surgery to help prevent blood clots and stiffness, and most are able to leave the hospital in 24 to 36 hours.

Life-Changing Event

The long-term effects of joint replacement are life-changing. “Patients love being back on their feet, but they realize some of the biggest benefits when they go to bed,” Dr. Weber says. “That grinding pain that used to keep them up is gone, and they often report that they’re sleeping better than they have in years.” 

Get Back to Your Life

Stiff and painful joints can rob you of your normal life. Whether joint pain is keeping you from everyday comfort or a more active lifestyle, our staff can get you to where you want to be. Lutheran offers both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options that are safe and private. Thanks to advanced technology, and surgical and rehab techniques, most total hip and knee replacements require a hospital stay of fewer than two days.