Partial or Total Joint Replacement Surgery: Is it time to replace your aching joint?

May 24, 2021


Your knee catches. Your hip hurts. Here’s what might be causing your pain — and what you can do about it.

Joint pain that stems from arthritis usually starts gradually — you feel stiff when you wake up in the morning or notice a twinge as you climb stairs. But as arthritis breaks down more of your cartilage, the pain can worsen.

The first line of defense for treating arthritic joint pain typically includes anti-inflammatory medications, injections or physical therapy, and those options may be all that you need. But it might be time to think about replacing your joint if it’s no longer working and stiffness is limiting your range of motion, you have debilitating pain in that joint or the pain is affecting your quality of life, says Michael Caravelli, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Coon Joint Replacement Institute at Adventist Health St. Helena.

Dr. Caravelli says the knees and hips are the joints most often replaced. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Knee Replacement

Think of your knee as a hinge. The bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments and tendons work together to stabilize and support your body, whether you’re standing, running or jumping.

When it’s time to replace: Osteoarthritis can wear away the cartilage and create problems with the bones in the knee. Having an injury, being overweight and aging all can worsen the effects of arthritis.

“Arthritis is going to be the cause for knee replacement over 99 percent of the time,” Dr. Caravelli says.

How joint replacement helps: Once you recover from a total knee replacement, you should be able to play doubles tennis, walk, cycle, swim and bowl. For activities such as running, playing basketball or skiing, you’ll probably need a brace. It might be uncomfortable to kneel, and your range of motion might be slightly reduced.

How long does a knee replacement last?

Your replacement knee can last up to 30 years.

Hip Replacement

One of the largest joints in your body, your hip is a ball and socket. This design allows you to move your upper leg in many directions. A layer of cartilage protects both the ball and the socket and allows the joint to move smoothly.

When it’s time to replace: As you age, arthritis can cause the protective layer of cartilage to wear away. Also, painful bone spurs can grow in an effort to replace the missing cartilage.

How joint replacement helps:

Hip replacement surgery could ease your pain and get you back to the activities you enjoy. As you recover,
you’ll probably be able to add activities such as walking, bicycling and swimming to your routine.

How long does a hip replacement last?

“With the technology of the replacements we use now, there is a lot of optimism we’ll see these replacements last well over 20 years,” Dr. Caravelli says.


The team at the Coon Joint Replacement Institute has completed about 12,000 joint replacements in its
10-year history

Joint replacement expert

Meet orthopedic surgeon Michael Caravelli, MD

Michael Caravelli, MD, recently joined orthopedic surgeons John Diana, MD, and Ryan Moore, MD, at the Coon Joint Replacement Institute, which has completed nearly 12,000 joint replacements in its 10-year history. Dr. Caravelli centers his practice on his patients and is motivated by improving the quality of life for those experiencing joint pain.

“We’re here to provide opportunities for people to get back to their normal function,” Dr. Caravelli says. “We’re here to listen and understand how this problem is affecting your life, and can help you come up with options to get back to the level of function that you want.”

Keeping you on the move

Discover the joint replacement options and orthopedic care available at Adventist Health St. Helena. Visit