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Joint Replacement Surgery

Total joint replacement or Replacement arthroplasty is an orthopedic surgical procedure in which an arthritic or diseased joint is removed and replaced with a metal, plastic or ceramic part known as an orthopedic prosthesis. The prosthesis facilitates normal and healthy movement of the joint.

Hip and knee replacement surgeries are the most commonly performed joint replacement procedures. However, replacement surgery can be performed on other body joints, as well, such as the ankle, wrist, shoulder, elbow and finger.

Joint anatomy

A joint is a point where bones meet. Our body has multiple joints of different types. For example, the knee is of "hinge" type, because of its ability to bend and straighten. The hip and shoulder are of "ball-and-socket" type because the rounded end of one bone fits into a cup-shaped area of another. Depending on the anatomy of the dysfunctional joint surface, surgery method, complexity and prosthesis type will differ.

Reasons for joint replacement surgery

Your surgeon will recommend a replacement surgery when all the other methods of treatment like physical therapy, use of assisting devices, pain-relieving drugs and lifestyle changes have failed to restore the functionality of the joint. Conditions that lead to joint pain and disability are usually arthritis or any injury to the joints. Most often, the cartilage lining the joints are damaged leading to severe pain and difficulty in movement.

The procedure

  • Total joint replacement surgery is a major procedure which takes a few hours. During the surgery, an incision is made through the skin tissue at the site to be treated.
  • The surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone from the joint through the incision.
  • The removed bone is then replaced with a prosthesis designed specifically for the joint operated on. For example, during a knee replacement surgery, the damaged cartilage and knee cap are removed preserving some of the joint parts. A metal prosthesis is then fixed to the bone using special medical-grade cement.
  • The wounds are sutured and the patient is closely observed.

Risks involved

Your joint replacement surgeon will be explaining the complications involved in the procedure. Some of the potential risks include:

  • Infection of the surgical wound
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to the nerves
  • Issues of the prosthesis like dislocation, loosening or infection

Recovery post surgery

Recovery period and rehabilitation strategies differ from person to person. In general, patients are encouraged to start using the new joint soon after the operation. Patients can start walking with the help of crutches or a walker. Your physical therapist will suggest specific exercises to restore movement and strengthen the joint. The initial pain and discomfort should resolve gradually.

Depending on which joint the operation has been performed on and the general health status of the patient, hospitalization may vary from 1 week to 2 weeks.

Majority of patients are able to resume daily activities normally after joint replacement surgery. Improved quality of life with less or no pain along with improved motion and strength are definitely the primary benefits of joint replacement surgery.

 

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