Human joints are very susceptible to wear and tear over long years of use. While aging is the primary cause, injuries from sports or other vigorous activities, arthritis, lack of mobility, and genetic issues can also affect joints. Pain medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, and yoga can help reduce the pain. Sometimes, however, the pain or damage becomes too severe for such methods. As a result, it may be necessary, or worth considering, a
in some cases.
Total Joint Replacement
When conservative treatments fail, total joint replacement can significantly improve the quality of life. It can reduce and often eliminate joint pain post-recovery. With physical therapy and time, mobility can return to full functionality. Though artificial joints can also wear with time like regular joints, they last 20+ years in most cases.
The Human Joints
There are six types of free-moving joints in the human body: Ball and socket, saddle, hinge, condyloid, pivot, and gliding. The two that are most commonly involved in joint replacement surgery are ball and socket & hinge joints. Ball and socket joints can rotate (shoulders and hips), while hinge joints move in one direction along one plane (knees and elbows).
The main structure of a joint includes bones, cartilage, ligaments & tendons. Cartilage is smooth and prevents friction between bones. Ligaments hold the bones together, creating the joints (bone-to-bone connection) and maintaining joint stability. Finally, tendons connect the bones to muscles allowing movement of the joint.
Common reasons for joint pain include:
Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation that causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of cartilage resulting in bone rubbing against bone, causing pain.
Tendonitis – Inflammation or irritation of the tendons.
Injury – Sprains or strains of a ligament, tendon, or muscle near the joint or a bone fracture.
If pain is not relieved with non-surgical treatment for hips, knees, shoulders, and sometimes elbows, joint replacement surgery should be considered. Of course, with any procedure, there are risks. Complications from the surgery are possible, including cardiovascular issues like blood clots.
It is also worth noting that total joint replacement for hips and knees will require a fair bit of preparation and recovery. Therefore, those considering such a procedure are advised to maintain a proper weight to reduce joint stress and pursue physical therapy before and after.
Discussing the pros and cons of joint replacement surgery with your doctor and surgeon is a must. In addition, knowing what to expect before and after surgery will bring peace of mind, which positively influences the healing process.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, PA