Surgery

How long will my hip or knee replacement last?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Anyone who needs a knee or hip replacement wants to know if it will be permanent, or if the replacement will need to be replaced at some point. While this is impossible to predict, and many factors affect longevity of replacement joints, data from past surgeries can help give some idea of what a person can expect.

Does your child need a tonsillectomy?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While tonsillectomies are still common, the number performed has decreased significantly over the past half-century due to the likelihood of complications after surgery. But there are situations when a tonsillectomy is definitely necessary, so it’s important to consider the risks and benefits before making the decision.

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared

People who take an anticlotting medication are at higher risk of bleeding if they need an invasive procedure, but stopping the drug ahead of a procedure carries its own risks.

Too many pain pills after surgery: When good intentions go awry

Scott Weiner, MD

Contributor

The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on lives. There are many factors behind this crisis, some of which may be surprising. A reasonable and well-intentioned effort to reduce and relieve pain can inadvertently lead to a potentially life-threatening addiction, but there are some surprisingly simple ways to avoid such scenarios.

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, can cause pain and restricted movement in the joints. Joint replacement surgery (typically for knees and hips) can restore mobility and reduce pain. However, these procedures involve risk, recovery and rehabilitation time, and the joint may still not feel completely normal. However, for some, surgery may improve quality of life and be better than the alternatives.

Physical therapy after hip replacement: Can rehab happen at home?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Hip replacement surgery is becoming increasingly common. After this type of surgery, people are required to undergo rehab to help them become stronger and steadier with their new joint. Traditionally, this has involved lots of back-and-forth to physical therapy appointments. But a new study suggests that many people may be able to do their exercises at home instead — with nearly identical results.

Healing through music

Beverly Merz

Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Music therapists are trained and certified to help patients in many ways. Research suggests that music therapy is more than just a nice perk. It can offer real benefits in reducing pain, anxiety, and improving quality of life for people with dementia.

Is it hard to decide about total knee replacement? Totally!

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If arthritis in your knee means you can’t do everything you want, whether that’s walking the dog or playing a game of tennis, you may be considering a knee replacement. But are the benefits “as advertised”? A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that they may be, but it’s more important to weigh the risks and benefits with your personal preferences in mind.