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Traditional Joint Replacement

Joint Replacement

Joint replacement may be considered when nonsurgical methods no longer relieve pain and/or improve mobility. Hips and knees are the joints replaced most often, but joints in shoulders, elbows, wrists and other areas can be replaced as well. Surgery for hip replacement patients, for example, can help reduce problems walking up and down stairs or make it easier to stand from a seated position.

Hip Replacement

Some of the most common reasons for hip replacement surgery include hip damage, such as a fracture, and osteoarthritis, a loss of joint cartilage that limits movement. Both can cause pain and inhibit daily activity.

Knee Replacement

Surgical options are total knee replacement, partial knee replacement, kneecap replacement or revision or complex knee replacement.

Shoulder Replacement

The shoulder is one of the most moveable joints in your body, and many shoulder conditions are caused by overuse.

How Is Joint Replacement Surgery Performed?

The first step is anesthesia to block the pain in one part of the body (regional) or put the whole body to sleep (general). The surgical team will then replace a damaged joint with a new one called a prosthesis. These new joints usually are made of special metals, such as stainless steel or titanium, and durable, wear-resistant plastic. Prostheses will be flexible enough to bend without breaking, strong enough to bear weight and designed to be accepted by the body and resist corrosion, degradation and wear so they can last for 10 to 15 years.

When Is Joint Replacement Needed?

Joint damage is caused by osteoarthritis, injuries, other diseases, joint wear caused by years of use, bone tumor or blood loss due to insufficient blood supply. Symptoms of joint problems include pain, stiffness and swelling. You may be a candidate for joint replacement if you have the following:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteonecrosis
  • Bone tumors
  • Loss of joint cartilage
  • Noninflammatory or inflammatory degenerative joint disease
  • Injuries or broken bones from trauma
  • How Successful Is Joint Replacement?

    Most joint replacement surgeries are a success and lead to long-term pain relief. While the recovery time varies from patient to patient, most patients who undergo joint replacement surgery performed daily activities more efficiently with less pain, along with improved motion and strength.

    Similar to most surgeries, undergoing joint replacement surgery comes with risks. And if problems do arise, these problems are usually treatable issues, such as infection, blood clots, or joint loosening.

    Preparing For Joint Replacement Surgery

    Physical, psychological and social preparation can greatly help ease your mind when having joint replacement surgery. Here are some tips to help you or a loved one who is a candidate for joint replacement surgery:

    Learn about the procedure

    Talk to your surgeon. Do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand something about the procedure.

    Put together your personal and medical information

    Before your surgery, you will need to provide your insurance coverage, medical history and legal arrangements. It may seem repetitive, but this is a necessary precaution to meet quality assurance and medical guidelines. Be sure that you have the following ready:

    • A care partner who will drive you to and from the facility, help you remember post-op instructions and stay with you 72 hours after surgery
    • Name and contact details of all the doctors you currently see and why you’re seeing them
    • Any medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, anemia or high blood pressure
    • Any previous operations you’ve had, if any
    • Any medications you take, including vitamin and mineral supplements, if any
    • Any allergies or adverse reactions to drugs or anesthesia. Provide the name of the drug, your reaction and when it occurred
    • Any dietary restrictions or food allergies
    • Name of insurance company(s) along with the plan or group number and contact information. Remember to also bring your insurance card with you on the day of surgery
    • Any advance directives you have, such as a living will or durable power of attorney. Remember to also bring this with you on the day of surgery

    Get in shape for surgery

    Getting ready physically before the surgery may reduce the chance of complications or shorten recovery time. This can be in the form of the following:

    • Quitting or cutting down on smoking
    • Eating a healthy diet. If overweight, your doctor may recommend losing weight before the surgery to decrease the rate of complications such as infection.
    • Not consuming any alcohol for at least 48 hours before surgery
    • Having an active lifestyle. Ask your doctor which exercises can be beneficial for you.

    Plan for going home

    Making your home safer and more comfortable after joint replacement surgery is the best option because recovery can take up to several weeks. Here are some tips to prepare your home:

    • Make sure your care partner can stay with you up to 72 hours after surgery
    • Place items you regularly use at arm level so you won’t have to reach up or bend down
    • You may need to rearrange furniture, remove any rugs, securely fasten electrical cords in the home
    • You may need to modify the bathroom, such as setting up a shower chair, gripping bar or raised toilet seat
    • Get items such as a long-handled shoehorn, long-handled sponge, grabbing tool or a reacher, footstool and a shirt with big pockets or a shoulder bag to help you carry things