What is Joint Replacement Surgery?

 

Joint Replacement Surgery

Arthritis of the joints can result in pain and functional difficulty. In some severe cases, patients are unable to walk even short distances. Often, medication, injections, and joint cleaning procedures such as arthroscopy do not provide optimal function or adequate pain relief. Joint Replacement surgery has become the standard of care for this group of conditions.

A Total Knee Replacement

Why is total joint replacement necessary?

The goal is to relieve the pain in the joint caused by the damage done to the cartilage. The pain may be so severe, a person will avoid using the joint, weakening the muscles around the joint and making it even more difficult to move the joint.

A physical examination, possibly some laboratory tests and x-rays will show the extent of damage to the joint. Total joint replacement should be considered if other treatment options will not relieve your pain and disability.

 

How is a total knee joint replacement performed?

You will be given an anesthetic and the surgeon will replace the damaged parts of the joint. In an arthritic knee the damaged ends of the bones and cartilage are replaced with metal and plastic surfaces that are shaped to restore knee movement and function.

The materials used in a total joint replacement are designed to enable the joint to move just like your normal joint. The prosthesis is generally composed of two parts: a metal piece that fits closely into a matching sturdy plastic piece. Several metals are used, including stainless steel, alloys of cobalt and chrome, and titanium. The plastic material is durable and wear resistant (polyethylene).

 

At OrthoSports, our surgeons are well versed in the latest techniques in joint replacement surgery, including Computer-aided Navigation, Minimally-invasive Surgery (MIS) and partial joint replacements like Unicondylar Knee Replacements (“Uni”) and Hip Resurfacing operations. In MIS, specially designed jigs are used to guide the insertion of the hip and knee joint replacement parts. The result is a smaller incision which may be less painful and may allow earlier return to walking. Normal Hip and Knee Replacement scars can be about twenty centimeters long, MIS techniques allow the scar to be less than ten centimeters

 

If your condition is not very severe, you might be a candidate for a “half knee”.This is known as a Unicondylar knee replacement. The recovery for this operation is faster than for a Total Knee Replacement but it is only suitable for patients with milder symptoms. These are patients with knee arthritis in which only half the joint is involved. This does not occur as often as when the whole joint is involved, but when indicated, allows for a smaller incision and earlier return to function. The figure on the right shows a “Uni” knee in position.

 

A “half knee” or Unicondylar knee

What happens after surgery

Your surgeon will encourage you to use your “new” joint shortly after your operation. After knee replacement you will often stand and begin walking the day after surgery. Initially, you will use a frame for assistance but quickly progress to using a cane or walking stick.

Some  patients have some temporary pain in the replaced joint because the surrounding muscles are weak from inactivity and the tissues are healing, but it will end in a few weeks or months.

Exercise is an important part of the recovery process. Your orthopaedic surgeon or the staff will discuss an exercise program for you after surgery.

After your surgery, you may be permitted to play golf, walk and dance. However, more strenuous sports, such as tennis or running, may be discouraged.

The motion of your joint will generally improve after surgery. The extent of improvement will depend on how stiff your joint was before the surgery