Thirty years ago, a total knee or hip replacement was likely to last just five to ten years.
Now, with advancements in metallurgy and plastic development, “we’re able to put in total joints … that can last 30 years or longer,” said Jay Mabrey, MD, chief of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
Advancements in joint replacements were highlighted by recent joint procedures done on former President George W. Bush and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Bush reportedly was out of the hospital and headed home from Chicago to Dallas within hours of a partial knee replacement last month. Cuban posted a video to Instagram of him taking his first steps 24 hours after having a total hip replacement.
Those speedy recoveries are not unusual nowadays, according to Dr. Mabrey and other physicians. On the most recent episode in our Google+ Healthy Hangouts series, Mabrey joined David Winter, MD, President, Chairman and Chief Clinical Officer of HealthTexas Provider Network, and Cherese Wiley, MD, internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
But that doesn’t mean that joint replacement surgery should be the first option for people experiencing pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, modifications in exercise regimens and steroid injections are among simple measures that might alleviate pain.
When Dr. Mabrey has patients experiencing arthritis, he said the criteria he uses to determine whether joint replacement might be an option includes some basic questions. Does it interfere with your ability to play with your grandchildren? Can you go up and down stairs? Are you having trouble with your daily walk?
For those who do need a joint replacement, there’s another checklist to decide whether they may be a candidate for a “one-day total joint” program offered at Baylor University Medical Center. The keys include motivation, supportive family members and a willingness to go through “prehabilitation” and a wellness class prior to surgery, Dr. Mabrey said.
“When you put all of those things together and you pick a patient who is reasonably healthy, then those are the patients that are the best candidates for going home,” Dr. Mabrey said.
He said he used to say the procedure was limited to “healthier, slimmer” patients. But Dr. Mabrey said he’s completed successful total knee replacements on two patients within the past month who each weighed more than 320 pounds. They both went home the next day.