Joint replacement surgery is major surgery to replace an entire joint in the body with an artificial one made of materials like plastic or metal. Hips and knees are the most commonly replaced joints, but ankles, elbows, fingers, shoulders and other body parts can be done, as well.
The design of replacement joints and the surgery itself have come a long way in recent years. Today, about 90 percent of joint replacement surgeries are considered successful.
Why You Might Need Joint Replacement Surgery?
Considering how extensive the surgery is, yet how much it can improve your quality of life, you have many pros and cons to consider before electing to have a joint replaced.
“Many factors are used to determine the need for joint replacement surgery”, says Victor Van Phan, D.O., an orthopaedic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. “Among the factors to consider are the extent and nature of the damage to the joint in question. Your doctor will carefully examine X-rays to obtain this information.” In some cases, options like medication and/or specific exercises might help you manage the condition without extensive surgery.
Are You a Good Candidate for a Joint Replacement?
“Others factors will be considered to determine if you’re a good candidate for a joint replacement, such as your overall quality of life,” says Dr. Van Phan. “If you are constantly in pain or have trouble getting around, joint replacement surgery may be right for you.”
If you have serious health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, your doctor may decide that a total joint replacement is too difficult for you to handle. In some instances, your age or your weight may make the surgery too risky for you, although even older people are finding great relief from joint replacement surgery.
If joint replacement surgery isn’t an option for you, alternatives such as braces or a cane to help you walk, medication, physical therapy and supplements are available. For some people, surgery that only addresses part of the joint or the alignment of the joint might be helpful.