Ready For A Joint Replacement?

Millions of Americans have arthritis or severe joint damage due to wear and tear. If non-surgical treatment fails, many opt for a joint replacement. As a result, millions of hip and knee joint replacements happen every year. Improvements in the techniques to minimally invasive outpatient joint surgery make the procedure accessible. Before getting ready for surgery, the doctor will outline everything to expect.

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There will be minor incisions

Minimally invasive surgery means minor incisions. The goal is to access the damaged joint with as minor scar tissue damage as possible. The surgeon uses incisions the size of buttonholes and inserts an arthroscope tool. This tool has a camera attached to project the damaged joint. From there, smaller tools help remove the damaged tissue and bone so the surgeon can install the prosthetic replacement.

Surgery may involve robotics

Over time, medicine and technology have combined to form robotic-arm assisted surgery. Doctors plan the patient's replacement with special mapping software. Then a robotic arm machine guides the surgeon to install the prosthetic with fantastic accuracy. Robotic-arm-assisted surgery improves speed while reducing infection rates.

Recovery starts almost immediately

With minimally invasive techniques, the patient can leave the hospital the same day. Today, most replacements happen at an ambulatory surgical center (ASC), facilities that perform same-day procedures. The doctor will encourage the patient to walk short distances with a cane or walker. During this time, pain management is also crucial. The doctor will arrange for the patient to start physical therapy at this stage.

Physical therapy is the key

Based on the patient's progress, physical therapy can start immediately after the pain management process. The goal is to strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion. The physical therapist combines exercises, stretches, strength training, and massage. Some of these activities increase in intensity as time goes by. Within a few weeks, the patient can resume work and light activities.

Full recovery takes time

The procedure itself can take just a couple of hours. However, full recovery needs patience as healing takes time. The patient should recover with consistent physical therapy within 8-12 weeks. However, patients will need up to 18 months to see the full benefits of an outpatient joint surgery.

A better quality of life

While the surgery has made leaps and bounds, there are risks, including infection, swelling, pain, and much more. Joint replacements aren't a magic solution for patients with severe joint damage. For instance, the success rate for hip replacements rests at 90%. That means 1 in 10 patients do not get the expected relief. That said, most patients are pleased with the results that can last 10-20 years.

The more you know

Minimally invasive joint surgery can help after months or years of chronic pain. The process has made strides to improve speed and accuracy. Remember, the procedure needs effective physical therapy, rest, and recovery to maximize results. Patients are often concerned with a significant change like joint surgery. Be sure to discuss any fears with the medical team for a smooth process.