Men's Health, Women's Health, Your Health Tamar Raucher | 6 years ago

What Is Total Joint Replacement?

Are your joints holding you back? “Oh, my (fill in the blank) is killing me.” If you use knee or hip to fill in that blank, it may be time to take action.

The joints in your body work hard, especially those in your knees and hips. Like any other mechanism, they wear down over time. “Rust” in the form of arthritis or disease, and a “broken spring” like a pulled tendon, can speed up that deterioration, making everyday activities painful. For many, relief can be found in total joint replacement. Thanks to recent advancements in technology and medicine, total joint replacements are becoming more commonplace with shorter, easier recovery periods.

What Is a Total Joint Replacement?

During total joint replacement surgery, the surgeon will completely remove the affected joint, replacing it with an advanced prosthesis made of plastic and metal. Depending on the patient, the joint may be cemented into place for instant fixation in weaker bones, or press-fit into place to allow the bone to grow onto the prosthesis. The effectiveness of the procedure depends a lot on the patient’s willingness to follow post-surgery rehabilitation recommendations. Physical therapy starts almost immediately after the procedure, and continues for a few months afterward. Closely following the surgeon’s orders after the procedure is the most important thing a patient can do to ensure a successful outcome. A total joint replacement typically lasts 20-plus years before further revision surgery may be required.

A Firsthand Account

Robert Nantais, MD, recently had 48-year-old patient who had been experiencing pain in her knees for years. She was managing that pain OK until she fell twice within a month compounding the results of years of declining joint health. When cortisone injections and medication didn’t help anymore, Dr. Nantais recommended his patient have total knee joint replacement. Dr. Nantais, who practices at CMC Orthopaedic Surgery, performed the procedure without complications. And after two months of rehabilitation, the patient’s range of motion was already up to 98 percent.