New studies support the evidence that Total Joint Replacement Surgery (TJR) can reduce the likelihood of chronic pain and many patients are able to resume a healthier, more active lifestyle.

tjr walking the beach

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study shows that middle-aged and older adults who strive to meet recommended levels of physical activity do not increase their risk of knee osteoarthritis. Good news for older adults, but for patients suffering from constant joint pain, getting to that level of activity can be a challenge.

Chronic pain is a daily factor for as many as 50 million Americans, according to another recent study conducted by the American Pain Society. For those who suffer from joint pain, total joint replacement (TJR) has been shown to reduce or eliminate chronic pain, and a growing number of sufferers are finding relief through TJR. By 2010 – over a ten year span – an estimated 5.2 million total knee replacements had been performed, and in 2011 alone almost 1 million total joint replacements were performed in the United States.

Before TJR it’s all about the Pain

Bob Swedburg of Lake County, CA underwent total shoulder replacement surgery on each shoulder in 2014, performed by Santa Rosa Orthopaedics (SRO) Surgeon Dr. Michael McDermott. “… before my surgery I couldn’t work for long before the pain took over,” he explains “Today my arms and shoulders feel so normal that I find myself forgetting entirely that I now have prosthetic joints in my shoulders.”

For over 10 years Delores Narcum endured chronic, increasing pain in her hip joints. Eventually the pain grew beyond unbearable. Dr. Michael Star at SRO performed a total-hip replacement in both hips .Now it’s like the pain has been switched off, and Delores can once again enjoy life and a full-range of motion.

Delores and Bob are not alone in their experience with joint pain is the most common complaint heard by orthopedic surgeons that can lead to TJR in people who suffer from joint pain, including:

Conditions that can damage the joint, sometimes necessitating joint replacement surgery include Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteonecrosis.

TJR Patients Get Moving

The ability to start and maintain an exercise routine can be tremendously beneficial – both before TJR and after. However, people who suffer from chronic joint pain may be less likely to adopt a new fitness program, making it a challenge for them to maintain better health, or to reap the rewards that exercise can bring. But, even individuals with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, can benefit from a balanced fitness program. Thirty minutes of physical activity a day can help a person feel better while preventing a wide variety of medical conditions and for many of those who experience lasting pain reduction following TJR surgery, 30 minutes is a breeze.

Randy Lovett of Santa Rosa, California underwent total hip replacement with the help of Dr. Gary Stein of Santa Rosa Orthopaedics. He explains, “I put up with the pain in my hip for about three years before I came to see Dr. Stein. Eventually it got to the point where I could hardly walk around the house without experiencing extreme pain.” Now, with a renewed sense of mobility Lovett is all about being active.

“My arthritic pain was gone the day after my surgery, and today my mobility is over 90 percent of what it was before I ever experienced any hip problems! I can once again compete in rodeos, exercise regularly, and get around at work without needing to favor my left side.”

Before Dale Downey had his knee replacement he couldn’t walk more than 100 yards without experiencing overwhelming pain. He feared he would never play golf again, his cherished activity. Dr. Degenhardt replaced his knee and Dales was wonderfully surprised to be up and walking the same day after surgery. He is back on the golf course pain-free for all eighteen holes.

The Many Benefits Associated with TJR

Getting back to a more active and engaged lifestyle is only a small part of the overall benefit TJR patients receive from surgery. Equally notable benefits include:

  • Reduced pain – 90 percent of patients report significant to ‘dramatic’ improvements
  • Increased mobility – reduced pain mean an ease of movement and an increase in physical function. In one study TJR patients reported significant improvements in walking, stooping over and lifting.
  • Improved joint function – following a joint replacement many people are able to walk more easily and some are able to ride a bike or play golf.
  • Increased fitness – with healthier joints comes an increased likelihood of being active and a greater opportunity to adopt or resume a lifestyle that includes some level of daily exercise – which is well known among researchers to increase a person’s lifespan and quality of life.
  • A healthy heart – with a renewed ability to get moving there is also an increase in cardiovascular health. According to a Harvard Medical School study even moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 41 percent.
  • Better quality of life – by eliminating constant nagging pain often associated with osteoarthritis and other conditions that lead to TJR, patients report an improvement in other symptoms including depression, and experience an increased likelihood of resuming social activities, all of which help to improve quality of life.

How TJR Works

Today’s joint replacement surgery involves the removal of the worn cartilage from both sides of the joint, followed by resurfacing of the joint with a metal and plastic replacement implant that looks and functions much like the normal healthy joint. During a joint replacement, a surgeon typically removes the painful, damaged surfaces of the joint and replaces them with plastic or metal implants. As a rule, once the diseased cartilage and bone are removed, the pain goes with it.

At the age of 60, Brian Smart of Truckee CA who underwent TJR for his knee with SRO’s Dr. Thomas Degenhardt, says, “I was amazed at how suddenly the pain in my leg disappeared. I was up and walking just one day after my surgery and now I can do just about anything, including skiing, hunting, horseback riding and playing basketball.”

While total joint replacement is an extremely effective surgical treatment, it is generally considered as the last treatment option for patients with advanced arthritis and other conditions.

The Total Joint Program at Santa Rosa Orthopaedic Medical Group provides people in pain with hip, knee, elbow, and shoulder replacement surgery, as well as state-of-the-art outpatient physical therapy services to make damaged joints healthy again. SRO surgeons and physical therapists care and pride themselves on getting patients back to the activities they love, helping to re-establish independence and restore livelihood. The program, also offers the latest in advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques including the anterior hip approach with Dr. Nathan Ehmer.

Dr. McDermott, Dr. Ehmer, Dr. Bennett, Dr. Stein, Dr. Star, and Dr. Degenhardt make up a collaborative team of multi-specialist orthopedic surgeons and highly skilled physical and occupational therapists that specialize in TJR. The Total Joint Program at SRO, in its efforts to bring the best outcomes to patients also offers patients in-house diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, sports injury prevention, as well as advanced surgical treatments in joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care, hand, foot, ankle, and general orthopedic surgery. For more information about SRO surgeons, visit or call 707.546.1922. To read more about patient results involving total joint replacement and other procedures at SRO visit the website to read their stories.




U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. Knee replacement


Total Knee Replacement