Joint Replacements and Exercise

As we age, most of us will suffer from some form of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage (that protects the ends of your bones) wears down and the bones of the joint grind against each other causing inflammation and pain. One common method of dealing with it is to replace the worn joint with an artificial one. Knees, hips, and shoulders are among the most commonly replaced joints.

If you are going to have replacement surgery, you want to do your part on getting the best outcome possible and to do that means strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint before going into surgery and rebuilding the strength and mobility of them after the surgery.

This is personal for me as I had my right shoulder replaced about 9 years ago and am having my right hip replaced on June 29th, 2021. My hip x-ray report stated “Severe degenerative changes with complete loss of the joint space with bone on bone apposition. There is osteophyte formation and subchondral sclerosis.” Now, you have to know that I am still teaching (and participating in) high-intensity weight training classes, have very good strength and mobility… just a lot of pain. The fact that my hip is strong and mobile will make the recovery from surgery much easier and quicker. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)

I’m not going to recommend any particular exercises that you should be doing because your program needs to be created based on your individual needs, what strength and mobility you currently have. I will share the standard guidelines with you, though.

Prior to having a joint replaced and while dealing with osteoarthritis the recommendations are, “While you may worry that exercising with osteoarthritis (OA) could harm your joints and cause more pain, research shows that people can and should exercise when they have osteoarthritis. In fact, exercise is considered the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.” (Arthritis Foundation) So, don’t wait to start, but be sure to get professional guidance.

Post-replacement recommendations not only include physical therapy, but also know that, “a critical part of the recovery process begins after the last physical therapy appointment ends. “You are already engaged in an exercise program,” says physical therapist Michele Hribar, PT. “Now you need to continue it for the rest of your life.” (Cleveland Clinic)

Joint replacement can greatly enhance the quality of your life. Do everything you can to assure the best outcome and make strength and mobility exercises part of your life.

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