Should I Undergo A Total Joint Replacement for Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis can be debilitating. When joints are severely affected by arthritis, one potential treatment option to explore is replacing the damaged joint with a new, artificial one. This may not only reduce or even eliminate the pain associated with arthritis, it can also restore function to the joint. Hip, knee, and shoulder joint replacements are some of the more common surgeries recommended when dealing with arthritis.
In this blog, the NYC joint replacement specialists at NY Orthopedics’ Joint Replacement Center will provide an overview of what a joint replacement for arthritis involves and who may be a good candidate for this type of procedure.
How does arthritis affect the joints?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition. It damages the surfaces of the joint where they make contact with each other. In the shoulder, this is the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) and a portion of the scapula (the shoulder blade). In the knee, it involves the ends of the femur and tibia (the thigh bone and shin bone, respectively) and the patella (the knee cap). In the hip, the affected areas are the head of the femur and the socket in the pelvic bones in which it rests (the acetabulum).
What does a joint replacement for arthritis involve?
In simple terms, a total joint replacement for arthritis involves replacing the damaged joint surfaces with artificial components. For shoulder and hip replacements, these consist of a ball with a stem as well as a socket. For knee replacements, the artificial components are specially-shaped metal plates which replace the degraded cartilage covering the ends of the bone, along with a medical-grade plastic disc that replaces the thick pad of cartilage cushioning the joint. In some cases, the patella may also be relined with artificial components.
Am I a candidate for a joint replacement for my arthritis?
If your arthritis is advanced but you are otherwise in good health, joint replacement may be an option. However, you should always consult with an experienced orthopedic specialist who can provide you with conservative treatment options and other minimally invasive approaches to try before resorting to surgery.
The best candidates for an arthritic joint replacement procedure include patients who:
- Have arthritis that is severe
- Are experiencing significant impact on their quality of life due to their symptoms
- Have found conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to be ineffective
- Are willing to actively participate in a rehabilitation program following surgery
However, some health problems, including joint-related issues, may make a joint replacement for arthritis less suitable for you.
In general, you may not be a good candidate if:
- You have poorly-controlled diabetes
- You are an active smoker
- You are morbidly obese
- You have experienced infections in the affected arthritic joint in the past
The success of a joint replacement surgery depends on the health of the rest of the joint. If the joint has suffered several infections, or if it has already undergone several surgeries, it may not be healthy enough to withstand a joint replacement. In addition, if the joint’s anatomy is abnormal or if you have a muscular deficiency in the area, it may simply not be strong enough to support the artificial joint.
Looking to learn more about joint replacement for arthritis?
Joint replacement is only recommended if other treatment options have not been effective at improving symptoms, and only if the patient meets certain criteria. If you are suffering from arthritis and want to learn more about joint replacement as a treatment option, the first step is to schedule a consultation with one of our fellowship-trained joint replacement specialists.