Injuries, aging, and wear-and-tear can lead to chronic pain and joint instability. While physical therapy and non-surgical modalities may help preserve the integrity of the joint to some degree, there may come a time when surgery is needed. In some cases, surgery must be performed to replace a damaged joint. Doing so can help you reclaim your best quality of life.
Bone & Joint Specialists Orthopedic Center has four convenient locations in Indiana. To schedule a visit at a location near you, contact us at 219.795.3360.
What is Joint Replacement Surgery?
In certain circumstances, an orthopedic specialist may recommend partial or total joint replacement to resolve chronic pain and other conditions. Joint replacement surgery is a procedure in which parts of the damaged or arthritic joint are replaced with a suitable prosthesis. This new joint structure may be made of biocompatible ceramic, plastic, or metal. Each prosthesis is made to replicate the natural motion and movement of the joint. The most common joint replacements are the knees and hips. However, joint replacement surgery may also be performed on the elbow, shoulder, wrist, and ankle.
Who is an Ideal Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?
Chances are, if you are considering joint replacement surgery, you've already turned to the traditional non-surgical treatment options for your joint problems. Typically, joint replacement is an option when activity modifications, medication, and physical therapy have not worked to obtain sufficient relief and mobility.
When you consult with your orthopedic specialist, they will discuss your condition and what joint replacement may achieve. They will ask about your medical history and relevant health conditions you may have. It is important that your health is confirmed to ensure that you can safely receive general anesthesia and face minimal surgical and post-surgical risks. Your doctor may order several tests to help plan your surgery. These include labs and an echocardiogram.
What Are the Risks and Benefits of Joint Replacement Surgery?
During your consultation, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of your joint replacement procedure, as well as the steps that are involved in the surgery and recovery. Know that the vast majority of complications related to a joint replacement can be successfully treated. We are thorough in our planning and performance of every surgery, and follow up with you regularly to ensure that you are healing as expected after your procedure. The risks that are associated with joint replacement surgery, similar to other surgeries, include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, and blood clots. With joint replacement, there is also a risk of prosthesis dislocation or instability.
The benefits of joint replacement surgery far outweigh the risks. The majority of patients who undergo their needed joint replacement regain a significant amount of comfort. The new joint, supported by rehabilitated muscles and ligaments, can usually achieve nearly 100 percent of its range of motion, allowing you to regain a more active lifestyle.
The Joint Replacement Surgery Procedure Explained
Joint replacements are performed in an outpatient surgery center or hospital. Chances are very good that you will be able to have an outpatient procedure and go home a few hours after your surgery is done. Surgery is performed using general anesthesia. You will be asleep and will not register any physical sensations while you are anesthetized. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage as needed and will replace them with the components that are needed, such as a new "ball" for a ball-and-socket joint or a new socket made of durable, biocompatible plastic. Before surgery, your doctor will discuss the details related to your procedure, including where your incisions will be made and how long your surgery should take. This information may also be reviewed once you arrive at the surgery center.
Recovery and Aftercare for Joint Replacement Surgery
On average, it takes four to six weeks to recover from a joint replacement. What this means is that, in that time frame, you can expect to be able to walk and perform many, if not most, of your normal light activities. You will be up and walking short distances before you leave the surgery center, and will take prescription pain medication to assist you in moving comfortably. Once you are home, you must walk short distances a few times a day, aided by a walker at first. In time, you will transition from your walker to a cane and then, as you progress through your physical therapy, will walk unassisted. Your physical therapy program may begin as early as the day following your surgery. To help your joint heal optimally, you must perform your exercises not only during your sessions with your physical therapist but also in between your visits as they recommend. You will have a follow-up visit with your surgeon about six weeks after your procedure. If you have questions before that time, please do not hesitate to contact us!