Joint replacement surgery is a procedure where a diseased joint is removed and surgically replaced with a prosthesis. The prosthesis can be plastic, metal, or ceramic, and works in the same way as a natural joint. The joints that are replaced most often are the hip and knee, typically due to the extra weight and stress on those joints.
There are a variety of situations that can ultimately lead to joint replacement surgery. A key reason is arthritis, which includes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints. For those over 60, osteoarthritis is typically the most common form of arthritis. The progressive wear and tear on joints and cartilage leads to limited range of motion, a pain that aches from deep within the joint, or occasionally the feeling of your bones catching or grating against each other with the use of that joint. A joint replacement for those affected areas typically relieves the pain and discomfort associated with this degenerative condition. Joint replacements can also be triggered due to trauma or an injury.
Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint has many physicians available to treat joint pain. The treatment plans can range from light exercise and physical therapy to a total joint replacement.
Reasons for a Joint Replacement
Some typical causes of pain include osteoarthritis, acute injury, or a degenerative disease. When anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or walking supports no longer control hip pain, a total joint replacement may be in order. Our surgeons regularly perform hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. Other joints, such as elbows, wrists, and ankles, can also suffer from conditions or injuries that may result in a joint replacement.
In athletes, joints can also suffer from overuse injuries. When there is a repetitive motion such as a swing, a squat, or a throwing motion, the joints can become inflamed and sore. And injury can start out as a strained or torn muscle in the area of the affected joint, and can eventually progress to a replacement if the injury is not allowed to properly heal or if the athlete plays for many years in the professional arena.
Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery
When faced with joint surgery, you are advised to ask any and all questions they may have. Being educated on the topic is important in understanding what to expect before, during, and after the surgery. Don’t hesitate to bring up any concerns you may have. You are your best advocate when it comes to your personal care. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has a list of helpful questions to ask your doctor regarding joint replacement surgery: Total Joint Replacement: Questions Patients Should Ask Their Surgeon.
Joint replacement candidates should also be as healthy as possible before undergoing surgery. It is advised to stop smoking, lose weight, and ask about any exercises you can do before surgery that can make it easier for your body to heal.
You may need assisted medical care after surgery. Some patients have family or friends who will be able to help with personal tasks and chores around the house while the patient heals. If a patient doesn’t have anyone who can help, they may be directed to an inpatient rehabilitation facility in the area upon discharge from the hospital. The length of stay depends on the type of surgery done and how well the patient performed during surgery.
After Joint Replacement Surgery
You should be able to resume most activities after surgery. Your doctor will discuss ways in which you can strengthen your body to help with the healing process. You should find that you can do just about everything you did before surgery, just without the pain. You may also have to change the way you do certain things, such as bending in a different way to keep your new hip safe.
For more information, visit the AAOS website to read about different joint replacement options:
To learn more about diseases, conditions, treatment options, and recovery, please visit orthoinfo.org.