You have not listed the type of joint problem that afflicts you. Have you had a referral to a physical therapist to determine if strengthening the muscle around the joint might be a viable alternative to a standard surgical procedure?
If it's a knee, a series of injections of a cushioning material can help postpone surgery. I'm not certain if the same is available for hips, but there is something called "planing' for the hip joint that can postpone total hip replacement. Having said that, the newest implants they have for hip joints are far superior to the old style; the newer type removes less bone and allows the patient to engage in more high-impact activities than with the old-style joint.
As ladybirdgal said, physical therapy can help strengthen the supporting muscles and tendons around a joint, which can lessen the pain. Cortisone injections can help, but again these are a temporary stopgap measure.
As a veteran of two hip replacements, I can tell you the surgery isn't fun, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Thanks Carol for the suggestion.