Orthopedic Surgery

We offer a comprehensive orthopedic program, driven by a highly-specialized team of board certified physicians and supported by specially trained patient-care personnel. Our physician team includes orthopedic trauma specialists, and our facility offers a dedicated Joint Camp unit focused on joint replacement surgery.

Huntsville Hospital Joint Camp

Joint replacement patients need specialized care before and after surgery for the best outcomes. In April 1998, we implemented a unique model of care for joint replacement patients. With several thousand Joint Camp graduates and national recognition for quality, more patients trust us with their joint replacement procedures than any other hospital in Alabama.

  • Comprehensive pre-surgery orientation led by former joint replacement patients
  • Dedicated 46-bed patient care unit
  • Focused care from specially trained nurses and therapists
  • Group therapy encourages patients to motivate one another toward recovery
  • Assistance selecting the best option for continuing therapy after discharge
  • Average length of stay is three to four days, down from one week

To learn more, call (256) 265-8343.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know I need a joint replacement?

When joint pain interferes with your ability to perform normal day-to-day activities (work, exercise, sports, etc.) you may be a joint replacement candidate. An orthopedic surgeon can evaluate your condition and advise you.

Am I too young for a joint replacement?

It’s really not a matter of age as much as a change in quality of life. Today’s artificial joint prostheses last 15 to 20 years depending on your activity level. If the new joint allows you to return to pre-surgery activities that place stress on the joint (running, tennis, etc.) and you are fairly young at the time of the replacement, a second replacement may be necessary later in life.

How long will I be out of work or away from normal day-to-day activities?

Recovery time depends on your physical condition and dedication to post surgery therapy. Normal activities should be restricted until your progress indicates you can use a cane to assist you in your activities. Recovery time is generally about two months.

How soon can I start driving an automobile?

Your doctor will determine when it is safe for you to resume driving. This generally is when you are using a cane and are no longer taking pain or sedation medication. Remember, until your doctor gives you permission to drive, your automobile insurance is invalid.

Is joint replacement covered by insurance?

Most medical insurance covers joint replacement and post-hospital therapy. If you have a prescription drug plan as part of your insurance, it will cover post-hospital medications. Check with your insurance carrier to determine the coverage for the physician, hospital and post-hospital therapy and any deductibles you may have to pay.

If I need both knees or both hips replaced, will they do them both at the same time?

It is preferable to replace one joint at a time. However, both knees or hips may be replaced simultaneously depending on the health and physical condition of the patient.

How much will this operation hurt – more or less than the pain I now have – and how long will the pain last?

Your pain may be worse immediately after the surgery. As you heal, the surgery pain will decrease, and you will notice that the arthritic pain in the joint has markedly decreased. Improvement should continue as healing progresses.

How will my pain be controlled?

Our goal is to manage your pain effectively for maximum comfort. Your physician will prescribe pain medication. It may be a Pain Control Analgesic pump, intravenous painkillers or shots. The day after surgery, these will be stopped and you will be offered oral medication for pain control, which is available every three to four hours.

What is the new joint made of?

The new joint prosthesis is made of a combination of plastic and metal. There are many options for the materials, including stainless steel, titanium, plastic or ceramic. Your physician will discuss the options and determine the material best suited for you.

Is robotic surgery an option?

Huntsville Hospital now offers the MAKOplasty® joint replacement system. The new procedures are less invasive than traditional joint replacement surgery and are performed using RIO®, a highly advanced, surgeon controlled robotic arm system. The RIO® system provides a 3-D image of the patient's hips or knees based on a previous CT scan. Using the 3-D model, the surgeon can plan the most favorable size and position of the implant, which is critical for proper joint reconstruction.

The new system offers different advantages for knee and hip replacement patients. As an alternative to total knee replacement, Partial Knee Resurfacing is designed to relieve pain caused by joint degeneration due to osteoarthritis. The robotic arm gives the surgeon the ability to target a specific compartment of the knee, while sparing the healthy bone and ligaments surrounding it. Since healthy bone is preserved with the partial replacement, a patient who undergoes this new procedure may be a future candidate for a total knee replacement procedure. MAKOplasty® Total Hip Arthroplasty is another option for a total hip replacement procedure designed for patients who suffer from non-inflammatory or inflammatory degenerative joint disease. MAKOplasty® Hip assists surgeons in achieving accurate alignment and positioning of implants, restore patient confidence in their mobility, and help them return to an active lifestyle.

Speak with your physician if you would like to learn more about this new option.