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When It’s Time for a Joint Replacement
When It’s Time for a Joint Replacement

What Is Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement is a type of surgery in which portions of an arthritic or damaged joint is removed. They are then replaced using a prosthesis device that is created from ceramic, metal, or plastic material. The prosthesis devices are designed to imitate the movements found in a healthy, normal joint.

The most common joint replacement surgeries are done on your hips and knees; however, the surgeries are not limited to those areas. They may be performed on various other joints, including your wrists, ankles, elbows, and shoulders.

The Anatomy of Joints

A joint is the place where two bones meet. You have various types of joints in your body. Some are called “hinge” joints, such as the knee. This is because of your knees’ ability to straighten and bend. There are also “ball-and-socket” joints that are found in your shoulders and hips. This is where one round end of a bone fits right into the cup-shaped section of the other bone.

When to Consider Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint pain or disability can lead you to the consideration of joint replacement surgery. Several different conditions can cause these issues. Damaged cartilage lining the ends of bones is one of the leading reasons for joint pain. It can come from fractures, arthritis, or other conditions.

It’s always important to try out nonsurgical options first. These can include physical therapy, medication, and making changes to your daily activities. If these options aren’t enough to stop your pain or disability, then your doctor might recommend that you undergo joint replacement surgery.

Prepping for the Surgery

Your doctor or surgeon will help you prepare for the joint replacement surgery. One of the things your general doctor will do is a thorough examination of your general health. Then, your surgeon might ask for extensive testing, such as bloodwork and cardiograms.

You can help prepare yourself by talking to your doctor and asking for information on things you can do to get ready. These might include a dieting plan and regular exercise. You should also prepare for the aftermath of the procedure by making sure you have someone around afterward to help you out. You also can acquire assistive items, such as shower benches and handrails.

The Surgery Itself

The joint replacement surgery will take a few hours. The surgery will take place in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. During the procedure, your doctor will begin removing the bad cartilage and replacing it with the prosthetic material that you and your surgical team have decided upon. The prosthetic is intended to replicate the movement and shape of your original joint.

As an example, if you have arthritis in your hip, then the damaged ball will be replaced with a prosthetic ball that’s attached to the prosthetic stem, which is then placed into your femur. A prosthetic socket will be put in the pelvis to replace the damaged one.

Your doctor or surgical team will tell you about the possible risks and complications that may arise from joint replacement surgery. Some of these are because of the surgery, and some can happen over time. Most of them can be handled successfully.

Recovering from the Surgery

The recovery time and rehabilitation depend on the individual. Usually, your doctor will tell you to use your replaced joint shortly after the procedure is complete. Although it can feel difficult at times, it is important to listen to your doctor’s advice because it will speed up your recovery time.

You may experience some temporary pain in the new joint. This is due to the weakened muscles that surround the joint and because your body is adjusting to the new joint. Your tissues are also healing. This pain shouldn’t last longer than a few months.

Part of the recovery process is regular exercise. Your physical therapist and/or doctor will help you come up with a specialized plan that will strengthen the joint and help restore movement. Always feel free to contact your doctor if you have any questions about limitations on your activities.

The Long-Term Outcomes

Most of the time, normal activities are a lot easier after a joint replacement surgery. You can expect your joint replacement to last for a long time, which will help provide you with a higher quality of life that includes less pain, improved movement, and increased strength.

At Prairie Orthopaedic, joint replacement is one of our specialties, and our in-house physical therapy team is equipped to guide patients through post-op care. If you think you might be a candidate for a joint replacement surgery, we would love to see you, walk you through the options, and help you decide what might be best for your lifestyle.