General information on joint replacement

It is important to have realistic expectations of joint replacement surgery.

  • Replacement joints are not "miracle" joints. They will not restore a joint to the function it had before the arthritis began.
  • Pain relief is the most dependable outcome of joint replacement. When the pain is relieved, you also may get some function back, but this is not the main goal and is less predictable.
  • On average, replacement joints have a limited life span (10 to 20 years).
  • There are certain activities (running, downhill skiing) you should not do after surgery. The joint is meant to be used but not abused.
  • Low-impact aerobics, moderate hiking, bicycling, swimming, gardening (if you don't squat), and normal housework usually are allowed.
  • People who have had a joint replacement may need to take antibiotics before dental work, certain tests, and surgery for at least 2 years after joint replacement surgery to prevent infection in the artificial joint.

Last Updated: April 17, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Richa Dhawan, MD - Rheumatology

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