Improving Joint Replacement Recovery

Advancements in technology are changing the face of orthopaedic surgery and helping people remain active and productive longer. One of the most exciting developments is the refinement of minimally invasive approaches to joint replacement.

Shoulder, hip and knee replacements are becoming more common in our society,” said orthopaedic surgeon John Walper, MD. “People used to wait until their pain became intolerable and made their favorite activities impossible, but minimally invasive joint replacement means smaller incisions, a shorter hospital stay and a much faster recovery, which makes it an appealing option for younger, more active patents.”

Timothy Ekpo, DO, is also passionate about the technology. “A partial knee replacement allows us to remove only the damaged part of the cartilage and bone and replace it with metal and plastic. We leave as much as possible of the health tissue and bone intact.” Minimally invasive hip surgery spares muscle completely, because surrounding muscle is spread rather than cut. “This eliminates the need for special hip precautions after surgery,” Dr. Ekpo said.

Sixty-seven-year-old Loraine Strayer was thrilled to learn that Henry Ford Allegiance Health offers partial knee replacement in addition to total knee replacement. She has osteoarthritis and first sought nonsurgical treatment with her rheumatologist. “Steroid injections kept me going for awhile,” she said, “but then I fell a few times and had to start limiting my activities—even shopping, which I love.”

"Everything went beautifully, and I was able to go home the morning after surgery"

Loraine Strayer

Dr. Ekpo explained to Loraine that partial knee replacement is not for everyone, and that he wouldn’t be able to tell for sure if she was eligible until he started surgery. "Everything went beautifully, and I was able to go home the morning after surgery,” Loraine said. After several weeks of physical therapy, she regained her mobility and range of motion and was back out shopping.

Both Dr. Ekpo and Dr. Walper stress that the best option is preventing joint damage through regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. “It may be necessary to adjust your expectations as you get older, but we encourage everyone to stay active,” Dr. Walper said.

“If you can no longer run a marathon, you can still enjoy walking, bicycling and swimming. Just make sure you keep moving.”

Grateful Patient Program

Many patients who have experienced pain relief and a return to the activities they love following orthopaedic surgery have chosen to show their thanks through the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Grateful Patient Program. Donations to this program are made in the name of a physician or clinical professional with the goal of ensuring that other community members will be able to receive care of the highest quality when they need it. Learn more.

Exercise may help relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and improve muscle and bone strength in arthritic joints.