Your knees ache. It’s hard to exercise or climb stairs. The pain in your hip seems to be getting worse. Undergoing total joint replacement surgery to alleviate pain and improve your quality of life is an option. If you are considering a joint replacement, here are seven common questions we get about total joint replacement surgery.

Q: How long does a total joint replacement last?
A: Our surgeons say that a total joint will last between 20 and 30 years. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, activity level, and weight can help improve the longevity of your new joint.

Q: What is the recovery time for a total joint replacement?
A: Everybody heals differently. It can take up to 6-12 weeks for you to return to most activities, and it is very common for it take up to a year to fully recover to maximal strength. This can depend on your conditioning before surgery, other medical problems, and your expectations.

Q: Will my implants set off the metal detectors at the airports? Do I need to carry a card with me?
A: Yes, usually patients with total joint replacements will set off the metal detectors. However, there are millions of people with joint replacements, and screening protocols recognize that this may happen. You do not need to carry specific documentation to prove that you have a joint replacement. Telling the TSA screening agent that you have a total joint replacement should be adequate.

Q: When can I drive?
A: You can drive once you regain good mobility and reaction time of your legs AND you are off of narcotics. You should not drive while you are taking narcotics.
This is often 4-6 weeks, but may be sooner if you had surgery on your left leg.

Q: Do I need an antibiotic before going to a dentist? For how long?
A: Yes, you will need to take a short-term antibiotic before your dental procedures (1 dose, 1 hour prior to your dental appointment). This can be ordered by either your dentist or your surgeon’s office. Continued use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures is based on the discretion of your treating surgeon. Our surgeons would recommend NOT having any routine dental procedures for 3 months after your surgery, so be sure to complete your routine (or significant) dental work prior to your surgery.

Q: Do I need to go to Physical Therapy? For how long?
A: Physical therapy recommendations depend on what total joint surgery you have done. For a total knee replacement, all of the OSMS surgeons prescribe physical therapy – approximately 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks, as needed.

For a total hip replacement, some surgeons order physical therapy right away and some wait to see how you are doing at your 2-week post-op appointment. Talk with your treating surgeon for his recommendation.

For a total shoulder or reverse total shoulder replacement, most of our surgeons prescribe physical therapy similar to a total knee replacement – 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks, as needed. Talk to your treating surgeon for his specific recommendations.

Q: What kind of material are my joint components made of?
A: Our surgeons can use many different types of implants. There are metal, plastic, and ceramic components and each have their benefits. Please discuss with your treating surgeon on what components he uses.

If you have questions regarding a specific joint you are having difficulty with, please schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons.