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Factors you should consider when thinking about getting a joint replacement

4 questions you should ask yourself before getting the procedure

Kristine Hoffman, 63, has the energy of a woman half her age.

But a lifetime of running, gymnastics and dancing took a toll on Hoffman's hips.

"I couldn't cross my leg, my right leg over my left side anymore," Hoffman said. "There were just a lot of things little by little that I was losing."

There are four questions you can ask yourself to see if you're ready for joint replacement.

Pain

First, is your pain ruining your mood most of the time?

"If it is making you angry or sad or something like that, I think it's time to address it more aggressively," says orthopedic surgeon Kamala Littleton, who specializes in hip and knee replacements. 

Other options

Next, have you tried all the less invasive options? Most people struggling with osteoarthritis in their knees and hips are able to manage the condition with weight loss, medication, cortisone injections or physical therapy.

Need medication?

Third: Do you need constant medication to relieve joint pain? Have you stopped doing the things you love?

"You don't want to go to a movie because you know it's going to be so miserable when you get up after the movie, or fly on an airplane or go on a vacation," Littleton said.

Physical therapy a must

Finally, are you prepared to do physical therapy? It is a critical step in the recovery process.

"You've got to do therapy," Littleton said. "You've got to fight like a little Marine through this process. And, if you do that, you can be very, very successful."

Hoffman had her right hip replaced in 2005 and her left one done in 2018.

"I'm just not ready to hang it up, I'm not. I can fix this," she said.

Another factor to consider is timing. Artificial joints commonly last about 20 years, so you don't want to replace them too early. On the other hand, if you wait so long that you are not mobile, you'll lose strength and endurance, making recovery more difficult.

Remember to speak to your doctor when considering serious health procedures.


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