What is joint replacement surgery and when is it an appropriate surgical solution?
Joint replacement is a surgical procedure during which a damaged or arthritic joint is replaced with an orthopedic prosthesis. It may be recommended as a treatment option if you suffer from severe joint pain.
Joint replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, is an orthopedic surgical procedure during which the damaged parts of a joint are removed and subsequently reconstructed with the use of an artificial implant, or prosthesis.
A joint refers to a region of the body where the ends of two or more bones connect (i.e. fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles, knees, hips, neck, etc.). Joint replacement surgeries are most commonly performed on the hips, knees, and shoulders.
Damage affecting this area is quite painful and can severely restrict a person's range of motion. A joint can be damaged following a sudden accident, as well as due to aging and conditions such as arthritis. Non-surgical treatment is always recommended as the first option in order to improve a joint condition. This approach may include medication, injections, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, exercise, and weight-loss regimens.
If non-surgical treatments do not relieve your joint pain and fail to restore the normal functions of the joint, your doctor may recommend a total joint replacement. In these cases, a prosthesis that can execute the same movements as a joint will be implanted. Artificial implants are typically made of various metals such as chrome, cobalt, titanium, and stainless steel, or a strong plastic or ceramic. The implant will be fixed to the bone using acrylic cement, or it will be press-fit, which allows the bone to grow into the prosthesis. Once the artificial joint is successfully replaced, its motions and functions will be restored through regular physical therapy.
If you have recently suffered a serious joint injury while playing sports, or following an accident which resulted in severe bone and cartilage damage, immediate joint replacement surgery may be necessary.