Top 11 Things to Know About Joint Replacement

01. Joint replacement is major surgery

You should not be considering surgery unless you have significant pain that can no longer be controlled by non-invasive treatment.

02. Complication rates rise if you smoke, are obese or have diabetes

Most joint replacement surgeries are extremely successful, and post-surgery problems like infection, blood clots and dislocation are generally rare. However, complication rates are 3 to 5 times higher for people who smoke, and 6 to 7 times higher for very obese people. By stopping smoking, getting your weight down before surgery, and controlling your diabetes, you’ll improve your chances for a positive outcome.

03. The surgery is the easy part

For most patients, the real challenge is the recovery. The physical pain after a joint replacement is severe and pain medications are absolutely necessary. Those who currently rely on opioid medications to control their joint pain should know that long-term use of narcotics before surgery makes pain control after surgery more difficult.  Dr. Grimsley utilizes a modern protocol that reduces pain severity in the first few days after surgery, curtails postoperative opioid consumption, mitigates negative outcomes common with traditional pain regimens, gets patients moving sooner, and enhances patient satisfaction.

04. Don’t have surgery unless you’re prepared to do rehab faithfully

Physical therapy will be a crucial part of your healing process, and to get the best long-term results, you’ll need to put aside adequate time to focus on getting better. Remember, the more you move, the better your outcome.

05. Realistic expectations are an important aspect of joint replacement success

Getting a joint replacement is a lifestyle change. After surgery, you will need to restrict some of your activities. Running, jumping and high-impact activities must be limited, if not cut out entirely, to optimize the length of time a prosthetic will last.

06. Minimally invasive is not always better

Although “minimally invasive” has become something of a buzzword to describe surgeries done with smaller incisions and possibly different surgical techniques, the often-touted benefits of minimally invasive joint replacement—less pain and blood loss, quicker recovery times—must be balanced against long-term success rates. Minimally invasive hip and knee replacement do not eliminate risk. In fact, surgery with a shorter incision can introduce new risks and complications. Dr. Grimsley’s goal is to perform surgery in the least intrusive way possible while reconstructing a joint to allow it to function well for decades.

07. Not all joints are the same

Implant companies make several models and designs of implants, and the precise application depends on individual patient needs and anatomy. While Dr. Grimsley embraces the latest technology, biomaterials and surgical methods, he adopts new implant designs in his practice only after considering the advantages, safety, and scientific merits of such designs.  

08. Advances in implant and intraoperative technology in the last 15 years have led to better functionality and less pain for patients

Progress in implant materials and construction, as well as coating technologies, have improved device-tissue integration and reduced foreign body reactions and infections. Computer navigation technology has enabled significant gains in the accuracy of implant alignment. Additionally, new intra-operative pain protocols have yielded remarkable results.

09. Artificial joints can wear out

While modern implants are projected to perform well in 90% of patients for at least 15 years, you may eventually need to have the artificial joint replaced.

10. Full recovery can take a year

You’ll typically be released from the hospital or to a rehabilitation facility three days after your operation, but you won’t be able to drive for six weeks. People are generally back at their jobs after three months, and most are fully recovered after a year. However, some patients will take longer to regain their mobility and strength.

11. Picking the right surgeon and hospital is critical

Dr. Grimsley is fellowship-trained in adult reconstructive surgery and is a specialist in hip and knee replacements. St. Vincent’s Hospital Riverside, where Dr. Grimsley performs most of his surgeries, is a well-known center for excellence in joint replacements. It is consistently ranked #1 in the state of Florida for knee replacement volume, and studies support the fact that high volume equals better outcomes and lower complication rates.