In recent years joint replacement surgeries have become as common as getting vaccinated. Mainly because of the advancement of medical technologies and the availability of good surgeons. Though joint replacement surgeries are being performed on young and active patients too (people who have severe arthritis that is not responding to simpler, non-surgical treatments), it is the senior category of people who are receiving these treatments extensively.
People have started realising that it is in their senior years that get to spend time on themselves, either for leisure activities or adventurous travelling. Regardless of the reason, fact remains that joint replacement surgeries work like saviours for young and old alike enabling them to live a normal life.
What is joint replacement surgery?
The joints in our body are supported by ligaments, tendons, and cartilage for their smooth functioning. The ligaments connect bone to joints and help in stabilizing them; the tendons connect muscles to bones; cartilage provides cushioning, and the cushioning prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. The strain on the ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis, arthritis, ageing, gout, injuries and many such conditions can disrupt the smooth functioning of joints causing severe pain, stiffness in the joint and restricted joint movement.
The above conditions may happen when your joints have received severe wear and tear due to years of overuse, or when you have chronic arthritis or your joints have been damaged in an accident. A joint replacement surgery is recommended if no other treatments like physiotherapy or medicines seem to relieve you of your pain.
A joint replacement surgery (also known as Replacement Arthroplasty) is a surgical procedure in which the damaged body joints are replaced by a prosthesis. These prostheses are made of either metal, plastic, or ceramic material. With the advancement of medicine, surgeons can now replace joints like ankles, wrists, toes, elbows, shoulders, hips, and knees.
Do I need a Joint Replacement?
The most basic way to know and test whether you need a joint replacement is to ask yourself:
- If your joints have chronic pain
- If you feel relief in the joint pain only till the time the painkillers are effective.
- If you are unable to sleep comfortably at night due to joint pain despite the painkillers
- If it is difficult to bend to use the body join due to the pain.
- If you feel stiffness in the joints, especially after long periods of inactivity. For example, you feel stiffness in your knees after travelling in the car for a long duration.
- If you favour other body parts to compensate for the pain in joints. For example, putting more pressure on the left leg (walking with a limp) to relieve the knee pain in your right leg.
- If exercising, physiotherapy and medicines haven’t helped you in relieving the joint pain.
- If performing routine tasks is difficult because of the joint pain.
- If you are not able to flex your joints and there’s a significant reduction in the movement of the joint.
- If you have severe arthritis or there’s a great amount of damage to your joints
- If the pain is wearing you out mentally and emotionally
You might also need joint replacement surgery if you have been suffering from severe arthritis and there’s significant damage to your joints. To determine this, your surgeon will prescribe some tests after the initial check-up to diagnose whether you are a valid candidate for joint replacement surgery. He will also be able to guide you towards a waiting period (wherein you can wait for the surgery) and when the surgery becomes mandatory.
Why should you have joint replacement surgery?
To relieve the pain in your joints when none of other treatments and medications are working you should opt for a joint replacement surgery.
What are the types of Knee Replacement Surgery?
There are four different types of knee replacement surgery.
- Kneecap Replacement Surgery: It is also known as the patellofemoral replacement. This is a type of partial knee replacement and is recommended by surgeons when the damage is limited to the kneecap. It involves replacing only the undersurface of the kneecap and its groove with a prosthetic.
- Partial Knee Replacement Surgery: The knee has 3 sections, the lateral - also known as the outer part, the medial - also known as the inner part and the patellofemoral - also known as the kneecap. When only one part of your knee needs a replacement - the medial or the lateral, your doctor will suggest partial knee replacement or half-knee replacement.
- Total Knee Replacement Surgery: Total knee replacement surgery involves removing the entire damaged portion of the knee joint (i.e., the femoral condyles and tibial plateau) and replacing them with artificial ones. This is the most common type of knee replacement surgery and gives the most successful outcomes.
- Complex Knee Replacement Surgery: This is a rare form of knee replacement surgery which must be performed in conditions like major deformity of the knee or significant bone loss because of arthritis or malunited fracture or lack of strength in the knee ligaments. In these situations, a complex total knee replacement provides a number of characteristics and advantages, such as the ability to use more intricate prosthetic pieces with longer stems to ensure a snug fit in the cavity, use of larger plastic lines and use of bone graftings.
People who experience joint pain and stiffness may find that arthroplasty enables them to resume their favourite hobbies. After a joint replacement, many people regain mobility and lead more active lives. However, recovery times vary from person to person, so you might need to alter your routine to safeguard your new joint. Have an honest discussion with your surgeon about what to anticipate after the procedure. It's critical to set reasonable goals. Follow your provider's advice during recuperation and stick to your PT regimen for the best outcomes.