Questions and Answers about Joint Replacement
Joint replacement refers to the surgical removal of an arthritic or damaged joint and replacement with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. Hip and knee replacements are the most common, but joint replacement can be performed on the ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow and fingers.
Why is joint replacement done?
Joint replacement is done to relieve the pain in the joint caused by this damage, and to improve movement. It is considered when other treatment options no longer relieve pain and disability.
What happens after the surgery?
After joint replacement surgery, your orthopedist will encourage you to start using your new joint right away, even though this can be painful initially. The motion of your joint will generally improve after surgery according to how stiff your joint was before the surgery. Nine out of 10 people judge their surgery a success.
What are the possible complications of joint replacement?
Most complications of this surgery are minor; other more serious ones can usually be successfully treated. These include infections in the wound or around the prosthesis (antibiotics are given to prevent infection), blood clots (there are ways to reduce the possibility of developing blood clots), loosening of the prosthesis (which may require revision of the joint replacement), dislocation (which can often be corrected without surgery), excessive wear of the joint (which may require revision surgery), and nerve injury (rare, and it may improve or heal completely over time).
Is total joint replacement permanent?
Most persons can expect their joint replacement to last a decade or more, providing pain-free living that would not have been possible otherwise. Joint replacements can wear out over extended periods of time and may need to be redone.
However, this procedure offers most people an improved quality of life through greater independence and healthier pain-free activity.
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