How to Know if Joint Replacement Is Right for You
Signs You May Need Joint Replacement
The joints of your body have big roles to play. They help you stand, walk, pick things up, and bend back and forth. Over time, some people develop injuries or conditions that cause damage to the cartilage in the joints. Some people are born with abnormalities that limit the movement and function of the joints.
When there's a problem with one or more joints in the body, performing everyday tasks can become challenging. You might not be able to exercise or move around much and you might feel generally down and miserable about it.
Fortunately, surgical joint replacement can help restore your joints, allowing you to move freely once again. Joint replacement is major surgery, though, and not something to decide on a whim. Your orthopedist can help you decide if a joint replacement is right for you. In the meantime, there are some common signs that can let you know if surgery is something worth considering.
What Is Joint Replacement?
As you might guess from the name, joint replacement is a type of surgery that replaces a joint of the body with a joint made from artificial materials. Often, surgeons replace the entire joint during the surgery. It's also possible to replace just part of it, but that's less common.
The artificial joint, called a prosthesis, can be made from ceramic, metal, or plastic. Once the surgery is finished and the patient has had time to heal, the artificial joint moves and feels just like a natural one.
Joint replacement surgery is more common on some types of joints than others. The knees and hips are two popular candidates for joint replacement1. Depending on the condition of your knees or hips, the surgeon might replace one or both of them.
Following joint replacement, most people undergo physical therapy to help restore joint function and get the new joint up and running. After the surgery and therapy, many patients are happy with the function of their new joints.
Signs Joint Replacement Is Right For You
Any type of surgery has its risks and joint replacement is no exception. The time commitment required for the surgery can also keep people from considering it as an option. But for some patients, replacing the joints is really the best choice. It's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of surgery before you decide.
If you're experiencing any of the following, joint replacement might be right for you:
● Limited mobility: If damaged joints are keeping you from moving about and enjoying your life, surgery might be the best way to get back to your daily activities.
● Extreme pain: You shouldn't have to live with severe pain day in and day out. If your pain is bad enough that it affects your sleep or limits movement, surgery can help.
● Medication side effects: Medications can help people with joint damage cope with pain and inflammation. But some people experience side effects that are worse than the joint pain itself.
Your orthopedic surgeon might recommend joint replacement if you've been treating your joint pain or problem and haven't seen much improvement. A surgeon is also likely to recommend replacement if they believe that less invasive options won't do much to help you.
What to Consider Before Joint Replacement
If you've decided to go through with joint replacement, there are things you can do in advance of the surgery to improve your results and get the relief you're after.
Choosing the right surgeon is key. You want to work with a surgeon who's board-certified and who has plenty of experience replacing the type of joint you need, whether it's the hip, knee, or another joint.
Also, prepare yourself for success. Give yourself plenty of time for recovery and follow the surgeon's instructions for rest after the surgery. Keep in mind that healing and recovery can be a process; don't give up. Many people find that they're happy with the way their new joint works after surgery and wish that they had scheduled the procedure sooner.
1. Total Joint Replacement, OrthoInfo, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-joint-replacement/