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What to do when you need a knee or hip replacement

What to expect

Finding out you need a knee or hip replacement can be scary; there are a lot of unknowns. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with tips and resources to help you take control of your health care needs.

Knee and hip replacement basics

These procedures replace damaged or worn joints, which can be caused by injury, age, overuse, or conditions like arthritis. They are becoming more common, particularly in Americans ages 35 to 64. Since 2010, the number of knee and hip replacements in the U.S. have increased External Site by 17 and 33 percent, respectively.

Planning your procedure

If you and your doctor decide a knee or hip replacement is the right choice, it’s time to start your research. Consider the following questions:

  • Where should I have this procedure?

    The facility where you have your procedure can have a big impact on your care, recovery, and overall cost.

    Blue Distinction Centers

    You may want to check to see if there is a Blue Distinction® Center (BDC) near you. BDCs are health care facilities that meet national quality measures and show expertise External Site in delivering patient care safely and effectively. BDCs are also 24 percent or more cost-efficient than non-designated facilities. To research your facility or find one near you, log in to myWellmark Opens New Window®.

    Outpatient vs. inpatient facilities

    Many people are surprised to learn that knee and hip replacements can be performed on both an outpatient and inpatient basis. Having a knee or hip replacement at an outpatient facility means you don’t stay overnight. Inpatient procedures, on the other hand, require admission to the hospital. Both are safe, effective options for surgery, with steady improvements in quality outcomes.

  • Does the doctor have positive reviews?

    Finding a surgeon you trust is important. Read verified reviews from other patients to find the best match for you. Just log in to myWellmark Opens New Window and browse doctors near you.

  • How much will this cost?

    There can be discrepancies in costs between facilities. It’s important to understand your specific plan benefit before surgery. Educate yourself before you make your choice by logging in to myWellmark.

Preparing for surgery

Your procedure will be specific to your needs. The exact techniques, implants or prostheses, and type of replacement will vary based on what your doctor thinks is best. Be sure to have a clear understanding of the procedure and techniques before the big day.

There are many things you can do ahead of time to set yourself up for success External Site for knee or hip replacement surgery and recovery, for example:

  • Learn about the procedure, anesthesia, devices used, and recovery.
  • Create a plan to recover; tell your employer of any time-off you might need, and ask a trusted friend or family member to help you.
  • Continue to stay as active as possible while also eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Arrange a comfortable recovery area within your home. Have food, medication, and clothing in an easy-to-reach, accessible area.

Recovering from knee and hip replacements

On average, it will take about six weeks to recover from your surgery. This will vary for everyone, but there are things you can do to help make the road to recovery a smooth one.

  • Stick to your medication schedule, as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  • Watch for signs of infection like redness or swelling.
  • Do exercises for your new joint when your doctor tells you to.
  • Attend all follow-up care appointments.
  • Speak up for yourself. Communicate with your doctors and nurses if something doesn’t seem right.

Remember: Wellmark members get more with BeWell 24/7SM

If you have questions or concerns about your surgery or recovery, you always have access to Wellmark’s free health information hotline, BeWell 24/7. Available 24/7 365 days a year, BeWell can provide you with an evaluation based on your symptoms and recommendations for where to go for care. Just call Eight, Four, Four, Eight, Four, Be Well.

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each provider's cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.