Objective: To provide a more detailed description from patients' perspectives than is yet available of recovery from hip and knee arthroplasty and to use this information to test 2 assumptions about recovery from these procedures: that recovery from knee arthroplasty, as assessed by patients, routinely reaches the level achieved by hip arthroplasty; and that fatigue is prolonged after major orthopedic surgery.
Design: A cohort study.
Setting: University teaching hospitals.
Participants: Consecutive patients undergoing hip (n = 107) or knee (n = 53) arthroplasty.
Interventions: Unilateral hip or knee arthroplasty.
Main outcome measures: Standardized self-rated measurements of pain, function, quality of life, and well-being from preoperatively to 6 months follow-up.
Results: Pain and function improved significantly less after knee arthroplasty than after hip arthroplasty, but the 2 procedures led to similar improvements in life evaluation, mood, and subjective health. Fatigue was only transiently increased.
Conclusion: The findings were inconsistent with both assumptions. Nevertheless, despite poorer recovery in pain and function, patients receiving knee arthroplasty felt that life had improved as much as did patients with hip arthroplasty. Detailed information about how major joint arthroplasty in routine practice affects patients' lives can be used to advise patients and clinicians and can invalidate influential, but inaccurate, assumptions.