For painful, worn-out, or otherwise damaged joints, artificial joint replacement (arthroplasty) is an effective solution. An artificial joint, by definition, is a plastic, ceramic, or metal prosthesis or prosthetic joint that is implanted to replace a damaged or diseased natural joint.
What Joints Do Orthopedic Surgeons Replace?
The hip joint, knee joint, and shoulder joint are the most commonly replaced joints. Hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty, and shoulder arthroplasty are the terms used by doctors to describe these procedures. Every year, approximately 500,000 hip replacements and over 850,000 knee replacements are performed in the United States.
All of the joints listed below can be replaced by surgeons:
When Do You Need Joint Replacement Surgery?
If your joint is damaged, you are likely in pain and having trouble moving. This is when a surgeon may recommend joint replacement surgery.
Part of the entire damaged joint is removed and replaced with a manufactured implant during an arthroplasty. This is intended to aid in the relief of pain and the restoration of full mobility.
When making such a recommendation, doctors consider the appropriateness of care. Appropriate care is determined by whether the surgery’s expected health benefits, including life expectancy, outweigh the risks by a significant margin. All surgical procedures carry risks, so discuss the risks and benefits of joint replacement surgery with your doctor or surgeon before proceeding.
Benefits and Risks of Total Joint Replacement
The advantages of replacing a damaged joint are numerous and can be life-changing:
- Pain is significantly reduced and, in many cases, completely eliminated.
- Mobility is greatly enhanced and, in many cases, completely restored.
- In the vast majority of cases, the replacement joint will continue to function normally for several years.
- The vast majority of joint replacement patients return to full activity with little or no pain and are pleased with their decision to undergo surgery.
However, like with any surgical procedure, there are risks to consider. A medical complication from surgery is unlikely, but it could include a cardiovascular event like a stroke or heart attack, as well as infection, blood clot, nerve injury, or unintended movement of the artificial joint. A more common complication is that the procedure does not completely alleviate the symptoms, and as a result, the discomfort persists. All of these risks can be reduced by going with an experienced, reputable surgeon.
What Happens After An Arthroplasty?
You may be able to go home the day of surgery or you may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two, depending on the procedure and your overall health. You can expect weeks of rest and limited movement while you recover.
Consult with your healthcare provider about recovery preparations ahead of the surgery. You’ll need someone to drive you home. You might also require assistance getting around or performing tasks, such as laundry or bathing.
You will experience some discomfort following surgery. In the days following your procedure, you should:
- Not engage in any physical activity. As you recover from surgery, take some time to relax. Your doctor might advise you to apply ice or a cold compress to the new joint for 20 minutes at a time.
- Stick to your physical therapy and home exercise program. It’s critical to follow your doctor’s instructions. They will not only aid in your recovery by restoring function, but will also aid in the protection of the new joint.
- Elevate the area. Your provider may advise you to keep the joint elevated while you rest, depending on the joint you had replaced. If you have a knee replacement, for example, rest your foot on a stool or chair rather than on the floor.
- Keep your incisions clean and covered as much as possible. Carefully follow your provider’s incision care instructions. After your procedure, ask your provider when you can remove the dressing, shower, or bathe.
- Use pain relievers. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or prescription pain relievers may be recommended by your doctor.
- When taking pain medications, make sure you follow your doctor’s directions. Drugs to reduce swelling and prevent blood clots may also be necessary.
Joint Replacement Surgery in Watertown, NY
If you have a painful joint and want to learn more about whether a joint replacement is right for you, speak with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at North Country Orthopaedic Group in Watertown, New York. We can explain your options and help you decide on the best one.
To schedule an evaluation of your joint pain, contact North Country Orthopaedic Group at (315) 782-1650, or use our online appointment request form.