The term “replacement” can be a little misleading when it comes to someone undergoing joint replacement surgery, where the ends of the bones are removed or resurfaced and are replaced with an artificial joint. By definition, an artificial joint is a prosthesis or prosthetic joint, made of plastic, ceramic or metal, which is implanted to replace a damaged or diseased natural joint.
Joints can become damaged by arthritis and other diseases, injuries, or from other causes such as obesity. Arthritis, or simply years of use may cause the joint to wear down. This will often lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Diseases and damage inside and around a joint can limit blood flow, ultimately causing problems in the bones, which need blood to be healthy, grow, and repair.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 600,000 knees and about 400,000 hips are replaced in the United States each year. Joint replacement surgery is done by removing a damaged joint and putting in a new prosthetic replacement. A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, and shoulder. The surgery is usually done by a doctor called an orthopedic surgeon. Sometimes, the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts. The doctor may suggest a partial or full joint replacement to improve how you live, depending on your levels of pain and mobility. Replacing a joint can relieve pain and help you move and feel better. Hips and knees are a couple of the most often replaced joints. Other joints that can be replaced include the shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows.
It is important to note that joint replacement surgery is not for everybody who experiences pain in their joints, as your joints need to have and show damage to be a candidate for this invasive procedure. What that said, the prevalence of this procedure is increasing, and it can mean a big improvement in the quality of life for people with chronic pain due to a damaged or diseased joint.
To help make sure a joint replacement succeeds and lasts, doctors recommend doing physical therapy to strengthen bones, muscles and the new joint. Other tips include maintaining a healthy weight, cross training so you don’t overdo one type of activity or sport, and spending more time warming up and letting muscles and joints recover between workouts.
To find out more about artificial joints, and if you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery, call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment, or request one online. If you know of your joint injury or disease, or are in pain, the best thing you can do is seek consultation with an orthopedic surgeon. Surgery might not be needed at all, but seeking the a professional diagnosis and treatment is the right start.