Joint Replacement: Before and After

September 3rd, 2012
Joint Replacement: Before and After

Arthritis and regular wear and tear may cause damage to our joints. This causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Just like any other bone, joints are alive and need blood to grow and repair themselves. If the joints are diseased or damaged, the blood flow is inhibited causing problems. At times, the damage to the joint might require a joint replacement surgery.

Joint replacement surgery involves taking out the damaged joint and replacing it with a new one. The doctor may recommend a joint replacement surgery to improve the quality of life of the patient. The procedure can relieve pain and improve the mobility of patients. Hips and knees are the most common joints being replaced. Shoulders, elbows, fingers and ankles can also be replaced.

Only a doctor can tell if a joint needs to be replaced. Initially, the doctor may recommend exercises and using walking aids like canes or braced. Other treatment options for before going for joint replacement are physical therapy and medications.

Just like any surgery, a joint replacement has risks. The risks will depend on several factors such as the health of the patient before surgery, the severity of the joint damage and the type of surgery. Pre-surgical rehabilitation physical therapy can be advantageous to condition the body before it undergoes the physical stress of the surgery. The purpose of a pre-surgical rehabilitation is to decrease the number of days the hospital stay of the patient, reduce the pain and to restore mobility faster.

After surgery, physical therapy can start immediately after the joint replacement surgery. The physical therapist will teach the patients how to use assistive devices such as walkers or canes, how to get in and out of bed and to explain any movement restrictions. The post-surgical rehabilitation will focus on the restoration of mobility and to control the swelling associated with the joint replacement surgery. The physical therapist will prescribe exercises to make sure that the patients will recover full range of motion.

A joint replacement surgery hopes to accomplish the following:

  • Relief from joint pains
  • Restore joint mobility and flexibility
  • Improve joint alignment

The new joint used in the surgery is called a prosthesis. It can be made of metal, plastic, or both. To keep the joint in place, the joint may be cemented or not.  Cementing the joint is often used in older patients because they do not move around much. For younger patients, the joint is usually uncemented to allow the bone to grow into the artificial joint.

New joints usually lasts from 10 to 15 years so younger patients who have undergone joint replacement surgeries might have the same joint replaced more than once.

A lot of people have joint replacement surgeries because it can help improve the quality of life of patients with debilitating joint problems.