There is no reason to live with hip or knee pain and don’t worry, not every patient requires surgery. Dr. George Cautilli, Medical Director of the Center for Joint Replacement at St. Mary Medical Center, says many patients will get relief with shots and medication. But if joint-replacement surgery is the best option, he urges patients to find a program that does many of these procedures each year and takes a patient-focused approach.

Do your homework and ask questions of the surgeon. Find out what will be expected of you before and after the procedure. Learn how much pain you can expect and how much hard work you will need to put into your rehabilitation. Younger patients in their 50s and 60s should understand that while the replacement surgery will improve quality of life, there may be some restrictions, especially on high-impact activities that stress the joint, and they could outlive the hardware requiring another surgery years from now.

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Dr. Cautilli finds an aggressive rehabilitation approach works best with his patients getting them back to normal activities faster with a better quality of life. He pushes them so they can progress faster, to move from needing a walker to climbing stairs and getting in or out of a car. He also relies on methods that improve the range of motion more quickly. It all starts with getting the patient out of bed and walking just hours after surgery instead of waiting days for the first steps. He urges anyone with joint pain to see an orthopedic surgeon to get a diagnosis and a plan of action to become pain free as soon as possible.