The doctor says that I need 2 knees and 2 hips to be replaced due to arthritis. How painful is the surgery and how long is the recovery?
I’ve had both hips replaced in separate surgeries because of severe osteoarthritis. I can answer your question about hip surgery. Of course the surgical procedure itself is done under either general or spinal anesthesia with sedation so you won’t feel a thing. I had general anesthesia, then had a PCA [patient-controlled-analgesia] pump for the next couple of days. The PCA pump enables the patient to push a button and get more pain meds as needed. After that I was put on oral meds. I really feared the pain since I had never had any kind of surgery before. However what I experienced was not nearly as bad as what I imagined. Mostly I had no pain except when I moved "wrong" or when they turned me on my side at the hospital. That pain was sharp and fleeting. You’ll no doubt discover that hospital staffs have become very concerned about patients’ pain and you will be frequently asked to "rate your pain" on some sort of scale.
The surprising thing was that the old arthritis grinding pain was instantly gone the first day! Amazing.
After a 4-day hospital stay, I was dismissed to go home. While at home I had visiting nurse and PT for 2 weeks. After that I went to outpatient PT for about 5 weeks and used a walking aid (walker or forearm crutches to start, then a single crutch, then a cane) for a couple of months. The incision itself heals up in a couple of weeks but that isn’t the end of "recovery". I was told by my doctor that a patient may gain strength and muscle tone up to a year after surgery. For all practical purposes I suppose one is "recovered" when they can go back to work. Depending on the type of work they do, they might be returning as early as a month or as long as 3 months. It all depends on the patient, the type of surgery, the nature of the job, and the direction of the surgeon. Others may consider they’re "recovered" when they are approved to drive again. I drove at about 5 weeks.
I have no personal experience with knee replacements but I’ve been told (by my physical therapist) that recovery from TKR can be a bit more difficult and painful than from hip replacement.