What Is Joint Replacement Surgery?
Joint replacement surgery is removing a damaged joint and putting in a new one. A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, and shoulder. The surgery is usually done by a doctor called an orthopedic surgeon. Sometimes, the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts.
What Is a New Joint Like?
A new joint, called a prosthesis can be made of plastic, metal, or both. It may be cemented into place or not cemented, so that your bone will grow into it. A cemented joint is used more often in older people who do not move around as much and in people with “weak” bones. The cement holds the new joint to the bone. An uncemented joint is often recommended for younger, more active people and those with good bone quality. It may take longer to heal, because it takes longer for bone to grow and attach to it.
Any surgery has risks. Risks of joint surgery will depend on your health before surgery, how severe your arthritis is, and the type of surgery done. Many hospitals and doctors have been replacing joints for several decades, and this experience results in better patient outcomes. For answers to their questions, some people talk with their doctor or someone who has had the surgery. A doctor specializing in joints will probably work with you before, during, and after surgery to make sure you heal quickly and recover successfully.
Do I Need to Have My Joint Replaced?
Only a doctor can tell if you need a joint replaced. He or she will look at your joint with an x-ray machine or another machine. The doctor may put a small, lighted tube (arthroscope) into your joint to look for damage. A small sample of your tissue could also be tested.
If these treatments do not work, the doctor may suggest an operation called an osteotomy where the surgeon “aligns” the joint. Here, the surgeon cuts the bone or bones around the joint to improve alignment. This may be simpler than replacing a joint, but it may take longer to recover. However, this operation has become less common.
Joint replacement is often the answer if you have constant pain and can’t move the joint well—for example, if you have trouble with things such as walking, climbing stairs, and taking a bath.
What Happens During Surgery?
First, the surgical team will give you medicine so you won’t feel pain (anesthesia). The medicine may block the pain only in one part of the body (regional), or it may put your whole body to sleep (general). The team will then replace the damaged joint with a prosthesis.
Each surgery is different. How long it takes depends on how badly the joint is damaged and how the surgery is done. To replace a knee or a hip takes about 2 hours or less, unless there are complicating factors. After surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room for 1 to 2 hours until you are fully awake or the numbness goes away.
What Happens After Surgery?
With knee or hip surgery, you will probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days. If you are elderly or have additional disabilities, you may then need to spend several weeks in an intermediate-care facility before going home. You and your team of doctors will determine how long you stay in the hospital.
After hip or knee replacement, you will often stand or begin walking the day of surgery. At first, you will walk with a walker or crutches. You may have some temporary pain in the new joint because your muscles are weak from not being used. Also, your body is healing. The pain can be helped with medicines and should end in a few weeks or months.
Physical therapy can begin the day after surgery to help strengthen the muscles around the new joint and help you regain motion in the joint. If you have your shoulder joint replaced, you can usually begin exercising the same day of your surgery!
Dr Seshadri Sen,
Narayana Multispeciality Hospital,Barasat