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Frequently Asked Questions about Orthopaedic Surgery

If I see an orthopaedic surgeon, will he or she generally recommend surgery?

Most orthopaedic injuries and conditions are treated without surgery, using a range of treatments that include activity modification, physical therapy and medications. Surgery is an option for certain orthopaedic problems and often for those conditions that do not alleviate symptoms.

What are the most common orthopaedic surgeries?

The most common orthopaedic surgeries are:
  • Arthroscopic surgery of the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip and ankle
  • Joint replacement surgery, during which an arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint
  • Repair of soft tissue injuries, such as torn tendons or ligaments

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon uses a high-definition, fiber optic camera that is about the diameter of a pencil to perform surgery through small incisions. Arthroscopy is also used to diagnose and treat virtually all joint problems, including those of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle. The visualization that arthroscopy makes possible allows your surgeon to treat many conditions in the least invasive manner possible.

Because arthroscopic surgery is performed through small incisions, injury to soft tissues is avoided, which results in quicker and less painful recovery times. Most patients go home the same day they have surgery.

What are the benefits of joint replacement surgery?

The primary goals of joint replacement surgery are to restore mobility and to relieve pain. Good evidence-based medicine data reveals that a typical total hip or knee replacement lasts at least 20 years in about 80 percent of patients, which lets patients enjoy their favorite activities without pain. Joint replacement care at Sibley is a truly comprehensive experience; it encompasses the entire process from evaluation through rehabilitation. Care at Sibley includes diagnostic imaging, patient education, surgery and both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy. Sibley also has a skilled nursing facility, The Renaissance, for inpatient rehabilitation, which can be used to assure that any postsurgery issues are completely addressed.

How long does it take for joint replacement surgery to heal completely?

Healing times depend largely on the patient’s overall health, body type and lifestyle. With proper care, rest and therapy, patients heal sufficiently to return to most activities of daily living within several weeks of their procedure. The duration of hospitalization ranges from two days for a shoulder replacement to three to five days following a knee or hip replacement.

Can I still run/play soccer/golf with a joint replacement?

Probably, though it depends upon a number of factors that require coordination with your surgeon. Most patients are able to resume athletic activity at a recreational level, enjoying the benefits of exercise and recreation without pain or limitations.