An aching hip or knee can make even the simplest tasks challenging. Orthopedic doctors will first recommend conservative treatments like physical therapy and medication to relieve patients’ symptoms. However, if these are not enough to ease pain and improve a patient’s quality of life, joint replacement surgery may be the next step in the treatment plan.
Joint Replacement: A Major Surgery?
There is no cut and clear textbook differentiation between major and minor surgeries. However, the following are considered when classifying a procedure as major surgery:
- Preoperative factors, such as a patient’s significant comorbidities
- Procedure-related factors, including extended operative time and surgery risks
- Postoperative factors, like the need for intensive care
Major surgery is more invasive compared to minor procedures. It involves a surgeon creating an incision in the target area and using special instruments to repair damage inside the body.
Arthroplasty, also known as joint replacement, is a major surgery in which an artificial joint is installed to replace an existing damaged joint. The prosthesis is made of a combination of metal, ceramic, and plastic.
Typically, an orthopedic surgeon will replace the entire joint, called a total joint replacement. Some people can be candidates for a partial joint replacement wherein the prosthesis replaces only the damaged section of the joint.
Your surgeon may propose arthroplasty if you experience the following:
- Joint Discomfort. Nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy, medications, bracing, injections, walking assistive devices, and rest have not eased the pain.
- Joint Stiffness. Performing daily tasks has become difficult or impossible because of reduced mobility.
- Inflammation. The swelling does not respond to medication. It also does not go down despite lifestyle changes.
The time it takes to recover from arthroplasty varies. It is determined by your age and lifestyle, treatment type, and the joint replaced.
Types of Joint Replacement
An orthopedic surgeon can perform a joint replacement in different areas of the body. The most common joints are the elbow, hip, knee, and shoulder.
Hip replacement is the most common type of joint replacement surgery. The procedure can be a full or partial hip replacement.
During a total hip replacement, an orthopedic surgeon works on the ball and socket of the hip joint. In a partial hip replacement, the prosthesis only replaces the ball. The surgeon may access the hip joint from various angles — from the front, side, or back.
Shoulder joint replacement is not as common as other types of joint replacements. The surgery may either involve replacing only the ball of the joint or both the ball and the socket.
The orthopedic surgeon may also perform a reverse total shoulder replacement. A prosthesis replaces both the ball and socket in this procedure with the artificial joint set the other way around. Your doctor may recommend this option if you have a severely damaged rotator cuff.
An orthopedic surgeon performs a knee replacement to replace a damaged, worn out, or diseased knee with an artificial joint. Adults of any age can be a candidate for knee replacement. However, most patients for this procedure are between the ages of 60 and 80.
A prosthesis replaces both sides of the knee joint in a total knee replacement, whereas only one side of the knee joint is replaced in a partial replacement.
Orthopedic surgeons regard elbow replacement surgery as complex. This is due to the elbow’s numerous intricate parts that control the forearm’s movements.
Depending on the extent of the joint damage, your surgeon may perform either a total or partial replacement. In some cases, the surgeon will only replace the head of the forearm bone.
There are two main types of prostheses for elbow replacements:
- Unlinked, wherein the prosthesis comes in two separate pieces
- Linked, in which the parts of the artificial joint are connected
Joint Replacement Surgery in St. Peters, O’Fallon, and Wentzville, MO
Joint replacement surgery is a major procedure recommended when nonsurgical treatments are no longer effective. Consult with your doctor to find out if this is an option for you. Before deciding about your treatment plan, remember to inquire about the procedure itself, the benefits and risks, and the recovery process.
Is joint pain hindering you from living your life? At Advanced Bone & Joint, we have a team of qualified orthopedic surgeons to provide you with the care you need. We specialize in joint replacement and use cutting-edge surgical techniques to help you get back to your usual self.
If you have any concerns or would like to schedule a consultation, call us at (636) 229-4222 or fill out our easy-to-use online form. We look forward to serving you!