What are the Benefits of Joint Replacement Surgery?
Joint replacement surgery has come a long way. While it once took weeks for people to walk after the extensive surgery, many patients now begin walking within one day of the procedure. Learn more about the surgery below and what benefits it brings to patients who fail to see relief from non-surgical options.
What is Joint Replacement Surgery?
In your body, you have many joints, which are where two or more bones meet. A joint can be a hinge joint (ex: your knee), which is classified by its ability to bend and straighten, or a ball-and-socket joint (ex: your shoulder), which is a type of joint where the rounded end of one bone fits into another bone. For many people, the articular cartilage, or the cartilage that lines the ends of bones, can be damaged and weakened over time.
Joint replacement surgery is a treatment used to relieve pain and restore a more normal function and mobility to the damaged joint. The surgery consists of the removal of the damaged joint and tissues, which may then be replaced with an artificial prosthesis. Joint replacement surgery is most often done on the hip, knee, and shoulders, but can also be performed on the fingers, ankles and elbows.
What Causes Joint Problems?
Joint problems are most commonly caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While the cause for arthritis remains unclear, the following items may contribute to the weakening of your joints:
- Minor repetitive injuries
- Severe trauma to the cartilage
- Problems with the joint or cartilage
While less common, joint pain can also be caused by bursitis, gout, a bone/joint infection, cancer, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and certain infectious diseases.
Who is a Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?
Joint replacement surgery is typically not a first option for those suffering from joint pain. Usually, treatment options like medication, physical therapy and changes to your everyday routine are advised first. If these non-surgical treatments do not help and you continue to experience functional decline and disabling pain, your doctor may recommend joint replacement.
Total vs. Partial Joint Replacement
There are two types of joint replacement: total and partial. As the names suggest, a partial replacement is when only a portion of the joint needs to be replaced, while a total replacement requires the damaged cartilage to be replaced with a prosthesis. Partial joint replacements are smaller surgeries and have a shorter recovery time, but there is often too much damage to the cartilage and bone and the patient requires a full replacement. Both types can require a physical or occupational therapy program after surgery to ensure the joint is fully healed.
Benefits of Joint Replacement Surgery
Some of the most sought after benefits of joint replacement surgery include:
- Less pain: The main reason people have this type of surgery is to no longer suffer from chronic and excruciating pain.
- Restores movement and activity: Joint replacement allows many people to resume the activities and hobbies they had once loved, like biking, hiking, swimming and golf, before the pain sidelined them. This leads to an overall improvement of life quality.
- Reduces risk of chronic health conditions: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a total hip replacement is associated with reduced mortality, heart failure, depression and diabetes rates.
- Safer than ever before: Joint replacement is both safer and more effective now than it was years ago. While there are still risks associated with this surgery, the advancements to this procedure often lead to a better level of postoperative function compared to the past.
Knee, Hip, and Shoulder Replacement Surgery in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Here at Southcoast Health, our doctors provide a fully integrated, customized patient experience for those in need of a joint replacement. All patients are required to attend Total Joint Boot Camp, which provides pre-surgical education and training about total joint surgery. We also provide extensive post-operative care to ensure you are healing correctly.