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Need A Total Knee Or Hip Replacement? Here's What To Expect

Bradford Waddell, MD, is a hip and knee surgeon at HSS Stamford.
Bradford Waddell, MD, is a hip and knee surgeon at HSS Stamford. Photo Credit: Contributed

Deciding to have a total joint replacement, whether hip or knee, is a huge, life-changing decision. First, it is important to understand why most people undergo total joint replacement. The most common reason that a patient undergoes any form of hip or knee replacement is osteoarthritis. This is the typical "wear-and-tear" type of arthritis. Other reasons that patients may undergo knee replacement are for inflammatory arthritis (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis, when the body "attacks" its own tissues), post-traumatic arthritis after an injury or arthritis from a condition from birth.

The next step is seeing a surgeon to be evaluated. When I see you as a patient, I listen to your history, perform a detailed exam and review the x-rays or other imaging. All three are vital components in my decision to recommend for or against surgery. For instance, I would not recommend surgery for a “bad-looking” x-ray if you had no pain!

Once I recommend a total knee or hip replacement, patients should answer three questions for themselves:

1. Have I tried an adequate amount of non-operative therapy (with the doctor's input), or I am beyond standard non-operative interventions?

2. Is the pain keeping me from the activities I want and need to do?

3. Are the bad days outnumbering the good days in regards to my painful knee or hip?

Once you and the physician align by each assessing these three points, that’s when you can be comfortable knowing you are a great candidate for total joint replacement. While there are a multitude of factors that go into determining the best course of treatment for hip or knee pain, my patients have found these three simple questions extremely valuable when determining surgical intervention.

Finally, it is important for patients to understand that most instances of knee or hip replacement are "elective." I tell my patients that while this condition is extremely painful, it is still an elective procedure. Many of my patients, however, see the surgery as vital to them getting back to their normal activities and find it less elective and more necessary.

Through HSS Orthopedics at Stamford Health, I am privileged to now be able to make world class care more convenient for Fairfield County residents. My office is at the HSS Stamford Outpatient Center at Chelsea Piers, and my colleagues and I perform surgeries at both Tully Health Center and Stamford Hospital.

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