A Guide to Orthopaedic Joint Replacements
You never really know how often you use a joint until that joint causes pain. Now imagine that joint being permanently damaged beyond repair.
Whether it be due to age, an injury or arthritis, a permanently-hindered joint can make life incredibly difficult. Fortunately, those who suffer from certain forms of chronic joint pain may be eligible for total joint replacement.
Total Hip Replacement involves removing the hip’s current damaged cartilage and bone and replacing it with an artificial hip joint, which is usually made from ceramic, metal or plastic material. This surgery will alleviate pain and restore the function of the hip.
Since the hip joint is a ball and socket, the replacement joint is built in the same fashion. Depending on bone strength, the prosthetic will either be fitting in a way that allows the bone to grow onto the prosthetic or affixed directly to the bone immediately by using fast-drying bone cement.
Wrist Arthroplasty is an outpatient procedure that does not involve the replacement processes seen in total hip replacements and are a great way to combat arthritis pain.
The procedure involves removing the damaged portions of the wrist, mainly carpal bones and lower portions of the radius. The prosthesis consists of three components: the carpal component (cemented into the carpal bones or inserted into the third metacarpal), a plastic spacer and a radial component (cemented into the radius). It’s not uncommon for this procedure to be combined with other procedures to fix wrist ailments.
A cast will immobilize the repaired wrist for roughly 6 to 8 weeks depending on the patient’s recovery speed. Gradual exercises are a must to restore mobility but the patient should feel immediate pain relief regardless of their initial mobility. The operation should restore mobility to up to 50 percent of normal. The average wrist prosthesis should last 10 to 15 years.
Total Knee Replacement is usually administered after the knee joint is severely damaged from arthritis or an injury. Pain from ailments such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis are all common causes for patients to undergo a total knee replacement.
Unlike the unicompartmental knee replacement—or partial replacement—the total knee replacement resurfaces the damaged area, more than replaces the joint. The surgeon will remove damaged cartilage at the end of the tibial and femoral bones and replace the cartilage with metal components to remove the rough motion caused by the damaged cartilage and replace it with a smooth surface with a space between the metal components. The patella may or may not be resurfaced; it depends on the specific patient’s case.
Most patients who undergo a total knee replacement experience an immediate reduction of pain as well as improved mobility. The surgery will not make your old knee joint new again, but will significantly reduce the pain. After surgery, patient’s will still be limited to low-impact activities to avoid damaging the knee joint.
The surgery is inpatient and will require the patient to remain in the hospital for several days.
Total Ankle Replacement helps tremendously with arthritis in the same way the other types of joint replacements do. The goal of the surgery is to provide pain relief to the joint while limiting mobility restrictions to reduce the pain but keep the joint’s function.
Similar to other joint replacement procedures, candidates for a total ankle replacement surgery experience a life limited by their pain. If conservative treatments—bracing, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, etc.—have not helped reduce the pain, you are a likely candidate for a total ankle replacement.
During the surgery, patients will first be placed under general anesthesia. The damaged cartilage and even some bone will be removed and replaced with the prosthetic components, which consist of metal or plastic, with a glider in between.
The procedure is typically inpatient, so expect to spend a few nights recovering in the hospital. The foot will be elevated and there will be a period of immobilization until the joint fully heals. Even though the physical therapy will be painful in the beginning stages, patients tend to experience immediate pain relief.