Joint replacement may be considered when nonsurgical methods no longer relieve pain and/or improve mobility. Hips and knees are the joints replaced most often, but joints in shoulders, elbows, wrists and other areas can be replaced as well. Surgery for hip replacement patients, for example, can help reduce problems walking up and down stairs or make it easier to stand from a seated position.
Some of the most common reasons for hip replacement surgery include hip damage, such as a fracture, and osteoarthritis, a loss of joint cartilage that limits movement. Both can cause pain and inhibit daily activity.
Surgical options are total knee replacement, partial knee replacement, kneecap replacement or revision or complex knee replacement.
The first step is anesthesia to block the pain in one part of the body (regional) or put the whole body to sleep (general). The surgical team will then replace a damaged joint with a new one called a prosthesis. These new joints usually are made of special metals, such as stainless steel or titanium, and durable, wear-resistant plastic. Prostheses will be flexible enough to bend without breaking, strong enough to bear weight and designed to be accepted by the body and resist corrosion, degradation and wear so they can last for 10 to 15 years.
Joint damage is caused by osteoarthritis, injuries, other diseases, joint wear caused by years of use, bone tumor or blood loss due to insufficient blood supply. Symptoms of joint problems include pain, stiffness and swelling. You may be a candidate for joint replacement if you have the following:
Most joint replacement surgeries are a success and lead to long-term pain relief. While the recovery time varies from patient to patient, most patients who undergo joint replacement surgery performed daily activities more efficiently with less pain, along with improved motion and strength.Similar to most surgeries, undergoing joint replacement surgery comes with risks. And if problems do arise, these problems are usually treatable issues, such as infection, blood clots, or joint loosening.
Physical, psychological and social preparation can greatly help ease your mind when having joint replacement surgery. Here are some tips to help you or a loved one who is a candidate for joint replacement surgery:
Talk to your surgeon. Do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand something about the procedure.
Before your surgery, you will need to provide your insurance coverage, medical history and legal arrangements. It may seem repetitive, but this is a necessary precaution to meet quality assurance and medical guidelines. Be sure that you have the following ready:
Getting ready physically before the surgery may reduce the chance of complications or shorten recovery time. This can be in the form of the following: