More than 1 million Americans have a hip or knee replaced each year. Research has shown that even if you are older, joint replacement can help you move around and feel better. A doctor may suggest a joint replacement to improve quality of life because replacing a joint can relieve pain and help you move and feel better.
While hips and knees are replaced most often, joints that can be replaced include the shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows. Joints can be damaged by arthritis and other diseases, injuries, or other causes. Arthritis or simply years of use may cause the joint to wear away. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Bones are alive, and they need blood to be healthy, grow, and repair themselves. Diseases and damage inside a joint can limit blood flow, causing problems.
A new joint, called prosthesis can be made of plastic, metal, or both. It may be cemented into place or not cemented so that your bone will grow into it. Both methods may be combined to keep the new joint in place. Sometimes, the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts. New joints generally last at least 10 to 15 years.
Any surgery has risks. Risks of joint surgery depend on your health before surgery, how severe your arthritis is, and the type of surgery done. Only a doctor can tell if you need a joint replaced. After examinations, the doctor may say that you should consider exercise, walking aids such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or medicines and vitamin supplements. Medicines for arthritis include drugs that reduce inflammation, or depending on the type of arthritis, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs.
If you are considering joint replacement, make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Wes Johnson. He can help you decide what options might be best for you.