If you’re like most people, you might think of joint replacement as a modern medical miracle when, in fact, it has been performed by orthopedic surgeons since the early 20th century.
What is significant, however, is the advancements that have been made in total joint replacement technology in recent decades, enabling millions of people who suffer from chronic joint disease to achieve a better quality of life.
As its name implies, total joint replacement consists of removing a damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial one. Newer designs and better materials have greatly improved the functionality and durability of artificial joints, so they perform and feel like the real thing.
Restoring Mobility with Total Joint Replacement
If you have joint damage from condition such as arthritis, joint replacement surgery may be necessary when other less invasive and non-surgical options fail to relieve your pain. Total joint procedures routinely performed by North Country Orthopaedic Group’s joint replacement specialists include:
- Total Shoulder Replacement – As anyone with severe shoulder arthritis will tell you, it can be quite painful, restricting motion for even the simplest activities. Some medications and lifestyle adjustments can help you tolerate the symptoms of shoulder arthritis, but as these symptoms persist or worsen, they may require surgical treatment.
Total shoulder replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, is recommended for patients with bone-on-bone osteoarthritis and intact rotator cuff tendons. During the procedure, your surgeon makes an incision, approximately six inches long, on the front of your shoulder joint, replaces the damaged head of the humerus (the long bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow) with a metal ball either implanted in the humerus or attached with surgical cement, depending on the bone’s condition. The glenoid cavity of the joint is also replaced with a plastic socket. Only the head of the humerus is replaced (if the glenoid cartilage is in good condition) in a procedure known as a hemiarthroplasty, commonly used to treat shoulder fractures.
For those with a completely torn rotator cuff, severe arthritis with cuff tear arthropathy, or prior failed shoulder surgery, a reverse total shoulder replacement is recommended. In this procedure, the ball and socket are switched with the metal attached to the scapula, and the socket is attached to the end of the humerus to allow the deltoid muscles, instead of the damaged rotate cuff muscles, to lift the arm above the shoulder.
- Total Hip Replacement/Arthoplasty – The hip is a ball and socket joint that allows you to move your leg and bend and straighten your body. It is also one of the joints most commonly replaced. Hip replacement surgery is usually recommended in cases of osteoarthritis and other conditions, including trauma.
As a progressive and degenerative disease, arthritis causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, affecting the cartilage (the protective, shock-absorbing material that covers the ends of bones) of the hip joint. Whereas cartilage provides a smooth surface and allows joints to glide easily during motion, arthritis wears down the cartilage, which can result in painful bone-on-bone rubbing.
Hip arthroplasty involves the surgical removal of the damaged portion of the hip and its replacement with an artificial implant called a prosthetic to provide pain-free movement. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision on the side of your hip to access your hip joint and remove the damaged bone, cartilage, or connective tissue. The femoral head and the cartilage or bone from the hip socket is removed and the hip joint is replaced with the prosthetic – a strong metal ball is implanted or attached to your femur and a durable socket made of plastic or metal is attached to your bone with or without surgical screws or surgical cement.
- Total Knee Replacement/Arthroplasty – As the largest joint in your body, the knee is the most easily injured. You can develop knee problems from aging, “wear and tear,” or a disease, such as arthritis, which affects the cartilage in the knee joint, causing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Knee replacement surgery, or knee arthroplasty, involves the removal of the damaged portion of the knee and its replacement with an artificial implant. It is the most common type of joint replacement surgery and is highly successful in relieving pain and restoring joint function.
Knee arthroplasty is an inpatient procedure that most likely will require a few days of hospitalization. During the procedure, your knee will be placed in a bent position and the surgeon will make a 6- to 12-inch incision on the side of your patella (kneecap) to allow for access to the joint. The damaged bone, cartilage, and connective tissue will be removed and replaced with an appropriate artificial joint, depending on your age, weight, activity level, and overall health.
Most knee replacement prosthetics consist of three components: a highly polished metal for the end of your femur, a metal and plastic component for the tibia (the top of your leg), and a part made of plastic that fits inside your kneecap. These pieces may or may not be cemented in place. Once surgery is completed and you recover, the artificial joint will allow you to perform most of the movements you previously were able to do.
Total Joint Replacement in Watertown, New York
To find out if you’re a good candidate for total joint replacement, talk with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at North Country Orthopaedic Group. We’ll discuss your options and your goals for recovery based on your individual needs. For example, if you are relatively young and active with no other option than to replace the affected joint, your doctor may use a different procedure than that appropriate for an older, sedentary patient.
To schedule an evaluation for your joint pain, contact us today at (315) 782-1650. Or, if you prefer, use our convenient online Request an Appointment form. Either way, we look forward to helping you ease your pain and restore your mobility.