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It’s Time To Fix Your Joint
Joints are where two bones in the skeleton meet. Joints also consist of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons for protection and flexibility. Without joints, bending, twisting, and simple tasks like walking would be near impossible. Unfortunately, joints can become damaged to the point where surgery is needed. In some cases, a doctor may recommend a total joint replacement. Total joint replacement sounds scary. Yet, doctors safely perform more than 700,000 each year. For patients that are a bit unsure about the procedure, here are 5 critical questions to ask.
1. What happens during total joint replacement?
Wherever there’s a joint, there is a possibility for a joint replacement. Shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists, and knees can all be replaced. However, knee and hip replacements are the most common types. A total joint replacement seeks to replace damaged or degraded joints with prosthetics. The surgeon makes a small incision to insert an arthroscope. This gives the surgeon a full view of the affected joint. Damaged cartilage and bone are cleaned and removed. Then the surgeon makes more small incisions to attach the prosthetic replacements. Most surgeries take 1-2 hours to complete. Many are outpatient procedures, meaning the patient can leave the hospital or ASC the same day.
2. Am I a candidate for total joint replacement?
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe injury are the main reasons for joint replacement. Over time, damaged joints can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. This can affect simple tasks like walking or climbing stairs. If there is evident damage seen via an x-ray or MRI, the doctor will opt for surgery. Most times, the doctor and patient will try non-surgical treatment options first. If this does not work over some time, surgery is the next best option.
3. What’s the recovery time?
On average, a patient can take between 3-6 months for a full recovery. Of course, factors like age, weight, physical health, and pre-existing conditions affect recovery time. Healing starts from the first day after surgery. The patient needs support from a cane or walker. There will be a combination of rest, medication, and physical therapy to help the healing process. In most cases, within 4-6 weeks, patients will be able to move around without support. Speak to a doctor for a clear recovery timeline.
4. How successful is a total joint replacement?
Total joint replacements have an excellent track record. Total knee and hip replacements have between a 90-97% success rate. Persons getting the surgery report less pain, stiffness, and improved quality of life. Of course, with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Risks include infections at the surgical site, blood clots, nerve damage, or failure of the artificial joint. Ask a doctor about possible risks and the steps that will be taken to reduce these chances.
5. How long will the surgery last?
Artificial replacement joints are durable and safe. For more than 80% of persons, the joint will last more than 20 years. For others, there is a 1% degradation of the joint year over year. So there could be a chance of replacement after 10 years. Based on age, in some studies, only 10% of patients needed corrective surgery after 20 years.
Get informed about joint replacement
The more information a patient has, the more willing and confident the patient will be to get surgery. Minimally invasive surgery promises smaller incisions and faster recovery time. The procedure can help restore the quality of life, especially with issues like osteoarthritis. Speak with a doctor or surgeon for guidance on total joint replacement today.