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Is It Time for a New Joint?
Millions of us struggle with pain and loss of motion because of joint damage caused by arthritis. If other treatments fail to offer relief, you may wonder about turning in your worn-out joints for new ones.
Although surgery may not be a first treatment option, if you are a candidate for total joint replacement or arthroplasty, the results of the surgery are good to excellent for more than 90% of people, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. They get relief from pain and can resume normal daily activities.
Joint replacement surgery is fairly common for people with osteoarthritis. In this most common form of arthritis, cartilage — the tissue that protects bones in a joint — breaks down and wears away. Bones rub together, causing pain and loss of motion.
Should you have surgery?
Joint replacement should be a final step in treatment. More conservative treatments are generally recommended prior to joint replacement.
Those other treatments include using pain medication, losing weight to ease stress on the joint, and reducing physical activities that cause pain. Doctors also may suggest exercises to keep muscles and joints flexible, promote fitness, and strengthen muscles that support damaged joints.
While most people undergoing joint replacement surgery are in their 60s or older, younger people may undergo a joint replacement procedure when their condition warrants it. However, younger people may have other options available to them, such as changing to a less physically-demanding job, or having a different type of procedure that realigns or only partially replaces a joint.
The younger you are when you get a new joint, the more likely you are to need corrective surgery later. Surgery to fix or replace artificial joints has a risk of infection and other complications about 4 times greater than the initial surgery. Because doctors shape and remove bone to accept the new joint, repeated surgery also leaves less bone to attach to each new joint.
When do you need surgery?
X-ray evidence of joint damage is 1 of the criteria used to decide who should have this surgery. Your symptoms — mainly pain — are the most important consideration. This is predominantly a quality of life decision.
Candidates for joint replacement surgery should have 1 of the following: severe pain during activity, such as walking or getting up from a chair; pain that prevents them from doing activities; or pain at night that prevents them from sleeping.
What can you expect?
To get ready, you should work with your doctor to be sure you can tolerate anesthesia. If you have dental problems, have them corrected before surgery to reduce the risk for infection. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause an infection at the surgical site. Heart problems should be stabilized before surgery.
Total joint replacement involves a 2-day hospital stay or 3-day hospital stay. You'll receive an anesthetic for the duration of the surgical procedure. The surgeon will reshape the ends of the bones to accept the artificial parts.
Artificial joints are usually made of metal and hard plastic. Depending on the type of replacement joint used, cement may be used to attach some of the parts. Metal parts may be anchored by inserting a rod into the bone or with cement. Typical hip and knee patients can walk the next day using a walker. You'll likely be discharged on the third or fourth day, but you'll need time to rehabilitate.
At first, you may need assistive devices, such as crutches or a walker after hip replacement, for example. Within a few months, you should resume most of your normal daily activities unaided. You may still need physical therapy.
After shoulder replacement surgery, you can start passive shoulder exercises, in which someone else moves the joint for you, soon after surgery. Three weeks to 6 weeks after surgery, you'll perform exercises a therapist gives you. Eventually, you'll begin to stretch and strengthen your shoulder so you can regain normal use with far less pain than you had before the surgery.
Recovery from joint replacement surgery generally involves some pain for 2 months to 3 months. However, it's usually a different type of pain and will go away as the recovery period continues.
Will a new joint last?
Experts caution against unrealistic expectations for a new joint. You shouldn't expect it to tolerate activities that involve jumping or the kind of stress that would be hard on a natural joint. Your doctor will advise you to avoid certain activities after surgery and may even recommend that certain joint positions be avoided in order to prevent dislocation of the joint. The restrictions given will depend on the joint that is replaced, as well as your individual situation.
An artificial joint will eventually develop changes from wear and tear, even under normal use and activity conditions. It may eventually need to be replaced. Artificial joints generally last 10 years to 15 years; thus, a person who is younger at the time of the joint replacement surgery may eventually need to have the new joint replaced. However, new materials being developed for joint replacement are giving artificial joints a longer life span.
At the Joint Replacement Center at Broward Health Medical Center, we get your joints jumpin'.
The Joint Replacement Center at Broward Health Medical Center is committed to providing the highest quality care to patients undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery. Using the latest advances in joint replacement surgery and family-centered patient education and therapy, we are dedicated to improving our patients' recovery and quality of life.
Our customer-focused program offers:
State-of-the-art surgical techniques - The orthopedic surgeons at Broward Health Medical Center are dedicated to providing you with the latest options in joint replacement surgery so you can get back to activities you used to participate in or discover new ones you never thought possible. Surgeries included in the Joint Replacement Center are hip and knee replacements, revision (re-operation) of hip and knee replacements, hip resurfacing and unicompartmental partial knee replacement.
One surgical technique available at the Joint Replacement Center is the anterior approach to hip replacement surgery, which allows the surgeon to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the side or back approach. With the anterior approach, the hip can be replaced without detachment of the muscle, leading to a faster recovery for the patient. Patients receiving the anterior hip replacement experience no muscle cutting, a smaller incision and less post-operative restrictions.
Another technology available at the Joint Replacement Center is computer navigation- using an image-guided system during surgery that provides detailed visual information, improving the accuracy of the bone cut and alignment of bone during surgery.
"Hospital within a Hospital" environment - Located on the fifth floor of the Atrium Building at Broward Health Medical Center, the Joint Replacement Center provides all private patient rooms and a group therapy/activity area where care is provided in a motivational, fun environment. Patients participate in group physical therapy and group lunches to encourage health and wellness. It's a "Hospital within a Hospital," teamed with a special multidisciplinary staff working together to promote patients' speedy recovery.
Specialty trained multidisciplinary staff - The experienced team at the Joint Replacement Center includes highly trained orthopedic surgeons, medical director, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, RNs and patient care technicians, a clinical nurse specialist, physical therapists/aides, orthopedic technicians, nutritionists, surgical and perioperative team members, case managers and a program coordinator.
The staff works with patients in a structured recovery program, including pre-operative and post-operative patient education, with an emphasis on pain control. There is also individual physical therapy, with the inclusion of "coaches" in the patients' daily routines. The program promotes the involvement of "coaches" who can be anyone from family members, friends to volunteers.
The objectives of our staff are to: educate patients so they know what is "expected," and what needs to be done related to their pre-op, inpatient stay, and post-op care to ensure optimal recovery; provide pain management post-operatively, through state-of-the-art anesthesia pain management techniques; return the patient to a state of independence and quality of life sooner than with traditional programs; and, implement a process improvement team to monitor outcomes to assure the highest level of patient care.
Surgery for retired professional football players - Broward Health Medical Center is one of the 12 leading medical centers across the country, and the only one in Florida, to provide joint replacement surgery for retired professional football players. The joint replacement program is an initiative developed by an Alliance represented by the NFL, the NFL Player Care Association and NFL Alumni Association. The Alliance is looking for new ways to address medical needs of retired players, including joint replacements. Learn more
Free One-Week Membership to the Wellness Center - To get those joints moving again, a one-week free membership to the Wellness Center at Broward Health Medical Center is offered to patients once the surgeon gives the "ok."
About Joint Replacement
Many individuals have joint pain that hampers everyday activities, either because of arthritis, a fracture or other conditions. If medications and use of aids such as a cane are not helpful, patients, after consultation with their doctor, may find relief from their pain with joint replacement surgery. The goal of the joint replacement surgery is to relieve joint pain caused by damage to the cartilage or bone.