Joint arthroplasty surgery is removing part or all of a damaged joint and putting in a new or part of a new one. A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, and shoulder. The surgery is usually done by a doctor called an orthopaedic (pronounced or-tho-PEE-dik) surgeon. As noted before, sometimes the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts.
The doctor may suggest a joint replacement to improve your quality of life. Replacing a joint can relieve pain and help you move and feel better. Hips and knees are replaced most often. Other joints that can be replaced include the shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows.
Joints can be damaged by arthritis and other diseases, injuries, or other causes. Arthritis or simply years of use may cause the joint to wear away. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Bones are alive, and they need blood to be healthy, grow, and repair themselves. Diseases and damage inside a joint can limit blood flow, causing problems.
If the cartilage is worn away or damaged by injury, infection, or disease, the bones themselves will rub against each other, wearing out the ends of the bones. This causes a painful, arthritic condition.
Do I Really Need to Have My Joint Replaced?
Only a doctor can tell if you need a joint replaced. He or she will look at your joint with an x-ray machine or another imaging device. The doctor may use a small, lighted tube (arthroscope) into your joint to look for damage. A small sample of your tissue could also be tested.
After looking at your joint, the doctor may recommend other options, such as exercise, walking aids such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or medicines and vitamin supplements. Medicines for arthritis include drugs that reduce inflammation. Depending on the type of arthritis, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs. However, all of these drugs may cause side effects, including bone loss.
Joint replacement is often the answer if you have constant pain and can’t move the joint well, for example, if you have trouble with things such as walking, climbing stairs, and/or taking a bath. Your health care professionals will discuss your options and help you decide if joint replacement surgery is the best option for you.
Orthopaedic Total Joint Arthoplasty
For more information, see the NIH web page: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Joint_Replacement/
The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill.