Joint replacement surgery is life-changing. Would you know if you needed it?
At first, retirement couldn’t slow Bueal “Bill” George down. He and his wife, Phyllis, were as busy as ever between traveling overseas, spending time with their 14 grandkids and overseeing numerous rental properties.
But then, the pain started. “It got to where it hurt to walk,” George said. His doctor soon confirmed he needed to have both knees replaced. George wasted no time. He had his left knee done in 2009 and his right in 2011, both times at Baylor Medical Center at Irving.
“It was unbelievable how much it improved things,” the 74-year-old resident of Irving, Texas, said. “I went from not being able to do physical work to where I can literally do anything the rest of my body will permit me to do.”
That includes helping out two days a week at his youngest son’s farm. Since his knee replacements, he has done everything from clearing trees to building a cow shade to removing roof shingles.
After seeing such incredible results, George is a vocal proponent of getting help if you need it. “If you’re hurting, see what can be done,” he says. “There’s no reason to suffer if you can get relief.”
Watch Bill’s incredible story of how joint replacement changed his life.
Are you suffering from joint pain in silence? If any of the following four warning signs sound familiar, it may be time for a replacement. Not only can joint replacement surgery bring about relief, it can get you back doing the things you love most in life.
Warning #1: You can’t make it through the grocery store without taking a break.
And it’s not just the grocery store. If you can’t walk around the neighborhood or play with your grandkids without taking frequent breaks, it’s probably time for joint replacement surgery, says Jay Mabrey, MD, chief of orthopedics at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
“It’s a quality of life decision,” he said. “Joint replacement is typically life-changing.”
Warning #2: You can’t do the things you love.
For George, not being able to walk his dogs was a red flag that he needed to do something. So was the fact that he was enjoying his travels less and less because being on the tour bus was just too uncomfortable. Sound familiar? The it’s time to make an appointment with the doctor.
Warning #3: You’re unable to get a good night’s rest because of your joints.
Maybe it’s the pain keeping you up, or that you can’t get into a comfortable position.
“If every time you roll over you feel the bones grind together, you’re going to wake up,” Dr. Mabrey said.
If you can’t sleep and are tired all the time, don’t let the pain—or the thought of surgery—keep you from getting your Zzz’s. Joint replacement surgery is one of the most successful procedures being done, Dr. Mabrey said.
“It’s very common. There’s nothing I do that helps people more.”
In fact, more than one million hip and knee replacements were completed in 2009, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Warning #4: You’ve tried everything else and you are still in pain.
“Joint replacement is always the last resort,” Dr. Mabrey said.
Your doctor may suggest home exercises, a physical therapy program, medications or injections first. If none of these treatments work, joint replacement may be the next step.
Still on the fence? Consider what your quality of life will be if you don’t do it.
“If you lose the ability to walk, your overall health tends to decline,” Dr. Mabrey said.
Plus if you choose a hospital that uses minimally invasive techniques and advanced pain control methods, you’re more likely to have a faster recovery and fewer complications.
“We see some patients up and walking the same day of the surgery.” Dr. Mabrey said. “It turns someone who can barely walk into a person who can live their life again.”
Learn more about joint replacement and the Joint Wellness Program at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
This information originally appeared in the March 2013 edition of Baylor Health Magazine.