TOTAL JOINT REPLACEMENT
When your joints are injured, damaged, or arthritic, they can cause serious pain and eventually require replacement. A total joint replacement is the surgical procedure wherein your orthopaedic surgeon removes the joint and replaces it with a prosthetic joint. The prosthesis that replaces your joint is generally made of metal, plastic, or ceramic and is intended to function like a healthy, mobile joint.
Total Joint Replacement is a last resort option. Depending on the level of damage to your joint and your response to conservative treatment, your orthopaedic surgeon at Elmhurst Orthopaedics may suggest a total joint replacement.
What is a Joint?
Joints are like pivot points in the body that connect bones with bones. A healthy joint allows you to move easily and painlessly. In areas like your hips, knees, and elbows, your joints serve as hinges between your bones that allow you to move in various directions. Sometimes, however, when the cartilage between your joints wears down or is injured, you can experience pain because the cartilage no longer prevents the bones form rubbing against each other. In weight bearing joints like the hip or knee, the degradation of the cartilage and the synovial membrane can decrease your weight-bearing ability.
Hip and knee joints are the most frequently replaced joints. As the cartilage wears down, not only does your joint’s mobility become impaired, but your joint also loses the ability to carry as much weight as it used to. Thus, your synovial joints, your joints that are freely mobile, specifically the ones responsible for weight-bearing, are more frequently damaged to the point that they may require surgery.
Your shoulder is made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint: The ball, or head, of your upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid.
The surfaces of the bones where they touch are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that protects the bones and enables them to move easily called synovial membrane. In a healthy shoulder, this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and eliminates almost any friction in your shoulder. All of these structures allow the shoulder to rotate through a greater range of motion than any other joint in the body. However, when the shoulder is damaged due to arthritis, repeat injury, overuse, fracture or necrosis, total joint replacement should strongly be considered.
Your femur, or thigh bone, sits inside the socket of your pelvis, the acetabulum. As the hip is a freely mobile joint, there is a synovial membrane that protects your hip joint and eliminates friction.
However, when this cartilage and synovial membrane wear down or become damaged, you can experience pain in your hip while moving. One of our orthopaedic surgeons may suggest a total hip replacement, hip arthroplasty, if your joint damage is severe enough to cause you pain while sitting.
The knee, the largest joint in your body, is a complex joint that is uniquely designed to bend, straighten, and tolerate rotational movement while bearing the weight of your body and the extra stress of impact during activities like walking, running, and dancing. If your knee joint is damaged, you will experience pain while standing, walking, and/or running.
However, if your knee joint is damaged severely, it may even be painful when you are sitting or lying down. Should this be the case, one of our orthopaedic surgeon, who may suggest a total knee replacement. This will help reduce and possibly eliminate your pain and can get back to doing the things that you love.
Why is a Total Joint Replacement Done?
When your joint becomes severely damaged and is painful even while you’re not putting pressure on the joint, or if your joint pain hinders your ability to perform daily tasks and the activities that you love, a total joint replacement may be a good option for you. The most common reasons that our medical team suggests total joint replacements are:
This is the most common type of arthritis and is often called the “wear-and-tear” arthritis. When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your joint wears down, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease that attacks your joints and causes inflammation of the synovial membrane. Swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis can create pain because it damages the cartilage and eventually the bone.
Osteonecrosis, or avascular necrosis, is characterized by the death of healthy bone tissue as a result of the loss of blood to a specific area. Osteonecrosis is most commonly seen in the hips, knees, shoulders, and ankles.
If you haven’t responded well to conservative, non-surgical treatments, a total joint replacement may be the best option for pain relief.
What Happens During the Procedure?
Before you go into the operating room, you will meet with your surgeon and an anesthesiologist to determine the type of anesthesia that will be best for you and go over the details of your procedure. During your surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will remove the damaged joint and bone before replacing it with a prosthesis.
After the Procedure
Most patients experience a return to normal functionality following total joint replacement as it enables you to move more easily. You will be required to participate in rehabilitation exercises to teach you how to move safely while you heal. This is also accompanied by physical therapy which will help you rebuild strength and mobility. All of these give you the following benefits:
- Stops or greatly reduces the joint pain.
- Increases strength by enabling you to move more and rebuild stronger muscles.
- Improve your quality of life by permitting you to engage in normal daily tasks and low impact activities with greater comfort.
- Provide you with years of easier movement as joint replacements last for many years
When persistent joint pain disrupts your quality of life, our medical team at Elmhurst Orthopaedics is here to provide you with high-quality personalized care to ensure your long-term health. Our expert orthopaedic surgeons and pain specialists will provide you with an accurate diagnosis and a personalized comprehensive treatment plan, using surgical treatment as a last-resort option.