When joints are severely affected by osteoarthritis, one potential treatment option to explore is replacing the damaged joint with a new artificial one. This may not only reduce or even eliminate the pain associated with arthritis, it can also restore function to the joint. Hip, knee, and shoulder replacements are some of the more common surgeries recommended when dealing with arthritis.
How does arthritis affect the joints?
Osteoarthritis affects every component of a joint, including cartilage, synovial membrane, and all connective tissue, beginning with the degeneration of the protective cartilage pads. As these pads wear away, small pieces of them flake off into the synovial fluid. While the reduced cartilage barrier leaves less cushion for bones and leaves them vulnerable to harm, the synovial membrane is suffering damage due to loose pieces of cartilage. Meanwhile, as the joint changes, the surrounding tissues must adapt to restore stabilization, often resulting in their own damage, weakening, and inflammation.
What does a joint replacement for arthritis involve?
A total joint replacement for arthritis involves replacing the damaged joint surfaces with artificial components. For shoulder and hip replacements, these consist of a ball with a stem as well as a socket. For knee replacements, the artificial components are specially-shaped metal places that replace the degraded cartilage covering the ends of the bone, along with a medical-grade plastic disc that replaces the thick pad of cartilage cushioning the joint. In some cases, the patella may also be relined with artificial components.
Am I a candidate for a joint replacement for my arthritis?
If your arthritis is advanced but you are otherwise in good health, joint replacement may be an option, however, you should always consult with an experienced orthopaedic specialist who can provide you with conservative treatment options and other minimally invasive approaches to try before resorting to surgery.
Good candidates for arthritic joint replacement procedure include patients who:
- Have severe arthritis
- Are experiencing a significant impact on their quality of life due to their symptoms
- Have found conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to be ineffective
- Are willing to actively participate in a rehabilitation program following surgery
You may not be a good candidate if:
- You have poorly-controlled diabetes
- You are an active smoker
- You are morbidly obese
- You are experienced infections in the affected arthritic joint in the past
The success of a joint replacement surgery depends on the health of the rest of the joint. If the joint has suffered several infections, or if it has already undergone several surgeries, it may not be healthy enough to withstand a joint replacement.
Joint replacement is only recommended if other treatment options have not been effective at improving symptoms, and only if you meet certain criteria. If you are suffering from arthritis and want to learn more about joint replacement as a treatment option, give us a call at 435-774-8511.