Joint replacement surgery is usually only considered after all else has failed to relieve arthritic pain and restore joint function. Before surgery is considered, more conservative treatment alternatives are usually tried. Once the pain has gone beyond responding to medication and the deterioration of the joint has had a major impact on quality of life, joint replacement surgery is then advised.
What Is Joint Replacement Surgery and How Does It Work?
The following steps are involved in joint replacement:
- Both sides of a joint’s cartilage are removed.
- A prosthesis, which is a prosthetic joint comprised of metal and plastic components, is used to resurface the afflicted joint.
To put it another way, an orthopedic surgeon removes the diseased joint and replaces it with a new artificial joint. Any joint in the body can theoretically be replaced; however, the knee and hip are the most commonly replaced.
What is the Composition of a Joint Replacement?
Over the last three decades, new implant materials and surgical procedures for joint replacement have been created. A prosthesis can be composed of metal, metal, and plastic, or a combination of metal and plastic. It can also be cemented with a grout-like substance, non-cemented, or a combination of the two to provide attachment. In most cases, an older person will have a cemented prosthesis. For younger, more energetic people, the non-cemented variant is preferable. This is due to the fact that adequate bone quality is required for the bone to grow into the prosthesis and anchor it.
Titanium and cobalt chrome alloys are commonly used in the joint prosthesis. Tantalum, a soft, very porous metal, is a newer substance being used. Tantalum’s rigidity is comparable to that of bone. Ceramic prostheses were popular a few years ago. A joint replacement prosthesis’ composition is continually improving, and as a result, they are lasting longer. Because new joints endure roughly 10 to 15 years, revisions and perhaps several modifications are likely for younger patients, depending on their age.
Is Joint Replacement Surgery a Common Procedure?
Every year, about 435,000 adults in the United States have their hips or knees replaced. Because of the aging population and the high success rate of joint replacement surgery, the number is growing every year.
What signs should you look for to see if you need a joint replacement?
Consider the following questions:
- Have I tried medicine and other pain-relieving treatments that are more conservative?
- Is the damaged joint causing me excruciating pain?
- Do I have a lot of trouble doing everyday things like walking, climbing stairs, cooking, cleaning, and so on?
- Has arthritic pain and joint degeneration reduced my quality of life?
Consult your healthcare physician if you answered “yes” to most or all of these questions. Your doctor may advise you to consider joint replacement.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Replacement Surgery?
Patients who have had joint replacement surgery typically return to their normal daily activities and perform well. Patients who participated in sports prior to surgery are likely to be able to return to low-impact activities after surgery.
Physical therapy and a dedicated rehabilitation program are critical to a positive surgical outcome. The following factors influence the outcome and pace of recovery after joint replacement surgery:
- degree of activity before surgery
- before surgery kind of surgery overall general health severity and duration of physical impairment (i.e., cemented, non-cemented, minimally invasive)
- motivation and attitude toward rehabilitation
Is it Possible for Joint Replacement Surgery to Cause Complications?
A successful outcome is achieved in more than 90% of joint replacement patients. Any surgery, however, has the potential for problems. It’s critical to understand what they are and how they may be treated.
Complications that may include:
- blood clots,
- prosthesis loosening,
- nerve or blood vessel injury around the prosthesis, and
- complications with anesthesia.
Is Recuperation a Struggle?
Physical therapy will usually begin the day after surgery for the majority of patients. Some people will be able to return home in three to five days, while others will need to spend time in a rehabilitation center focusing on physical therapy and becoming self-sufficient. Several physical limits apply throughout the postoperative period, all of which are designed to keep the new prosthesis from dislocating. The patient must be dedicated to the workout program and adhere to the limitations. When a surgeon leaves the operating room, his job is done. The patient’s work has only just begun at that time.
People frequently inquire about the time it takes to fully recover following joint replacement surgery. The answer varies depending on the type of surgery performed, whether problems emerged, and the patient’s physical and emotional engagement. Over the course of two to three months, the patient should expect to get stronger and more mobile. Over time, the pain will lessen.
If you are in the Asheville, NC area and are in need of a physical therapist, reach out to us here at 1on1 Physical Therapy!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like: What Patients Wish They Knew When They First Started Physical Therapy