If you're fed up with a bum knee or hip, you may want to consider joint replacement. It's a common treatment option for the baby boomer crowd and for younger adults with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The number of joint replacement surgeries performed each year is predicted to skyrocket. By the year 2030, hip replacement surgeries could soar to 572,000 and total knee replacements may reach an astounding 3.48 million, according to a recent study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Joint replacement may be the solution for a friend, neighbor or family member, but is it right for you?
Determining your options
Joint replacement surgery can offer pain relief, better mobility and an improved quality of life – for the right candidate. If you've experienced one or more of the following symptoms, you may benefit from joint replacement:
• Frequent or intense joint pain
• Trouble walking, sitting down or standing up
• Joint stiffness or swelling
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Joint discomfort can put a damper on your day-to-day activities. Basic movements, such as walking up a flight of stairs, may become obstacles for a person with joint pain.
If your pain or inflammation hasn't responded to traditional treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medication and is affecting your lifestyle, your physician may recommend joint replacement surgery. He or she will study your health history and perform a thorough exam of the affected hip or knee before referring you to a surgeon.
What can I expect?
Joint replacement surgery involves removing an arthritic or injured joint and replacing it with a new one. The implant, also called a prosthesis, is typically made of metal or plastic and is molded to form a new hip or knee joint. In some cases, the joint is cemented to the bone to keep it attached. This procedure is often used for older individuals whose bones may be frail.
If you're considering hip replacement surgery, you can expect the procedure to last between two and three hours. The surgery generally requires a 10- to 12-inch incision. Knee replacement surgery typically involves an 8- to 12-inch incision. Leading technology is allowing some surgeons to use a minimally invasive procedure that only requires a 3- to 5-inch incision in the hip or knee, reducing recovery time and pain. Depending on your activity level, your new joint may need to be replaced in 10 to 20 years.
A joint effort
After surgery, a patient typically participates in rehabilitation. A physical therapist can help you with exercises designed to strengthen the muscles in the hip or knee. Once recovered, most patients notice an improvement in mobility and experience less joint pain. To determine whether joint replacement surgery is right for you and to discuss potential risks, contact your physician.
Dr. Shawn Brandenburg is an orthopedic surgeon with Columbus Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Clinic.