At OSMI, we like to use minimally invasive and non-surgical techniques whenever possible, but sometimes surgery for joint replacement is beneficial. Joint replacement is an elective procedure. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s the right course of action.
What is a Joint Replacement?
A joint is where two or more bones come together—such as the hip, knee, shoulder, or elbow. Over time, joints experience wear and tear, which is referred to as joint degeneration. The most common cause of joint degeneration is arthritis, but joints can also be damaged by trauma, autoimmune disorders, or medications.
Joint replacement surgery is exactly what it sounds like: removing a damaged joint and replacing it with a new—albeit artificial—one. The most common joint replacements are hips and knees, but other joints that can be replaced include shoulders, elbows, ankles, and fingers.
Artificial joint implants can be made of plastic, metal, or both. Sometimes a surgeon will replace the entire joint, which is referred to as a total joint replacement and other times a surgeon will opt to replace only the damaged parts of a joint, which is referred to as a partial joint replacement.
When is Joint Replacement Used?
If you are experiencing chronic, debilitating pain that affects the way you live your life, joint replacement might be right for you. Here are some of the indications for joint replacement:
- Pain and stiffness: Joint replacement is often performed in people who experience chronic pain (lasting at least six months) that makes it difficult to walk, climb stairs, stand up from a seated position, or participate in normal daily activities.
- Impaired quality of life: Pain can have a dramatic impact on quality of life. If your joint pain limits your ability to perform your normal activities and affects your mood, you might be a candidate for joint replacement.
- Bone damage: Osteoarthritis and other conditions can lead to severe bone damage. If an x-ray or MRI indicates bone damage, you might benefit from a joint replacement.
Should You Undergo Joint Replacement Therapy?
Only you can answer this question. Joint replacement has become a common procedure and many people have benefited from it. That said, there are some things to consider before committing to the procedure:
- Have you tried other treatments? At OSMI, we try more conservative treatment first. If non-surgical treatment hasn’t relieved your pain, maybe it’s time to consider joint replacement.
- How will you manage post-surgery? You might need some assistance while recovering from joint replacement surgery. If you don’t have family or friends who can help, you may need to consider a rehab facility.
- Have you prepared for the surgery? It’s important to prepare for joint replacement—both mentally and physically. Some people need to make big lifestyle changes—such as losing weight and beginning an exercise program.
- Are you committed to the rehabilitation program? If you want good results, you have to put in the time and effort. Physical therapy is a big part of the recovery process and it’s up to you. If you’re not prepared to follow through on this part of the procedure, then you might not have optimal results.
Joint replacement is not for everyone, but if you have joint degeneration that is causing severe and debilitating pain, it might be right for you. The procedure has been found to reduce pain and increase mobility—and restore function and freedom.