It’s hard to tell what’s myth and what’s true.
In this article, we’ll tackle some of those myths, differentiate between the myths that have arisen based on legitimate concerns and those based in fear or resignation, and finally weed out the fact from fiction of replacing joints.
Concerns Surrounding Joint Replacement Surgery
Many of the myths surrounding joint replacement stem from legitimate concerns about the safety and efficacy of major surgery.
That doesn’t mean they should hold you back, though. It just means these first five myths are worth investigating.
Myth #1: Artificial joints are dangerous and may be recalled.
Truth: As with any piece of technology, occasionally there might be equipment recalls. However, in the overall scheme of things, recalls don’t affect very many patients. Also, while it may be labelled a “recall”, often all that needs to happen is closer monitoring. Talk to your doctor about the true chances of a recall.
Myth #2: Surgery means complications.
Truth: Joint replacement surgery is major surgery. That means that there are risks involved. But it doesn’t guarantee that there will be complications. In fact, there are significantly fewer complications the more joint replacement surgeries performed in a facility. So, find a doctor and a hospital that performs the procedure you need on a regular basis and you can reduce your risk of complications substantially.
Myth #3: Recovery is hard work – and full recovery is impossible.
Truth: Recovering from this surgery will take some effort on your part. After the procedure, you’ll probably be assigned a physical therapist, and it’s essential that you follow their instructions and routines. If you do so, the odds are good that you’ll be one of the people back at work and living life again in three months – and fully recovered in a year. Yes, it will take some time, but how fully your recover is almost entirely in your own hands.
Myth #4: Replacement joints have a limited life and are only short-term, so this surgery isn’t worth it.
Truth: This may have been true in the past, but it isn’t any longer. While the older technology used in joint replacement surgeries was only expected to last for about ten years, the more modern equipment is fully expected to last twenty-five to thirty years. Making replacement surgery a viable option, no matter how old you are.
Myth #5: Having a joint replaced will slow you down.
Truth: The exact opposite is true. The whole point of replacing a joint is to help bring you back up to speed again. Walking on a new hip or knee, swimming again thanks to a new shoulder – whatever you miss doing, the goal of the procedure is to give you back your life and your mobility.
Fear and Resignation Myths
When you’ve been in pain a long time, it’s easy to believe there’s just nothing that can be done. These five myths built up around the fear of disappointment and resignation. Luckily, they’re just myths – and the truths are very different.
Myth #6: Joint pain is a part of aging, and you just have to live with it.
Truth: You don’t have to simply live with debilitating pain. More people are candidates for this surgery than realize it. If your joint pain has started affecting your daily life and impacting your mobility, it’s okay to talk to your doctor about replacements.
Myth #7: Replacing a joint didn’t work for someone you know, so it won’t work for you.
Truth: While the rates of success do vary, only about 10% of hip and knee replacements needed to be removed in a follow-up surgery. If that still sounds too high for you, be sure to find a doctor who performs joint replacement surgeries on a regular basis. As we’ve already mentioned, the odds of success increase the more often your doctor performs them.
Myth #8: You can only replace the large joints.
Truth: Knee and hip replacements are the most common joint replacement surgeries – but that doesn’t make them the only joint replacement surgeries. If necessary, you can also replace shoulder, ankle, and even finger joints. Doing so can restore movement and eliminate pain. Find the right specialist for the job, though, because different procedures require different skills.
Myth #9: You should put off replacing a joint for as long as possible.
Truth: No, you probably don’t want to resort to this surgery at the very first twinge of pain, but that doesn’t mean it should be a last resort, either. It’s the 21st century and you don’t have to live in constant pain. Plus, living in pain can actually increase the pain. Pain tends to make people lethargic and less mobile – which can lead to weight gain and a decreased level of activity – which just leads to more pain. So talk to your doctor about surgery once your pain begins to affect your quality of life.
Myth #10: It’s stupid not to replace your joints.
Truth: Only you and your doctor can decide if it’s time for a joint replacement surgery. It’s okay to be afraid. To ask questions. To want surgery to be a last resort. There are ways you can avoid this surgery – tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, topical pain relievers… The list goes on. The point isn’t to rush into surgery. The point is to sift through the myth from the reality and make the decision that’s right for you.
So take your time. Talk to your doctor. Evaluate your quality of life.
And when the time comes to consider joint replacement surgery, do so – with all the facts in front of you.