Joint replacement surgery is the surgical procedure performed by an orthopaedic surgeon to replace a whole or part of a damaged joint with a metal, plastic or ceramic device called prosthesis. Prosthesis replicates the movement and appearance of a normal, healthy joint. It is aimed to relieve pain and improve the motion of the joint to give an improved quality of life to the patient.
Joints that can be replaced include hips, knees, shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows.
Surgery is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon under regional or general anaesthesia and may take a few hours depending upon the extent of joint damage and technique acquired to perform the surgery.
During the surgery, surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone from the joint and replaces it with prosthesis made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. Prosthesis is different for different joints e.g. for an arthritic hip, the damaged ball (the upper end of the femur) is replaced with a metal ball.
The new joint or prosthesis can be made of plastic, metal, or both. It may be cemented, non-cemented or both to keep the new joint in place.
The choice of cemented and non-cemented depends upon patient condition. A cemented joint is preferred in old patients with weak bones to hold the new joint to the bone. On the other side, a non-cemented is recommended for younger, more active patients with good bone quality.
Depending upon the patient condition and joint replaced, patient may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. In case of joint replacement of weight bearing joints like hip or knee, patient is motivated to stand or begin walking with the help of a walker or crutches on the day of surgery itself.
Patient may experience temporary pain in the new joint that can be managed with medicines and will go away in a few weeks or months.
Physical therapy is also advised to be started a day after the surgery to strengthen the muscles around the new joint and help you regain motion in the joint.
In addition to these, some more precautions and advice are given by the surgeon that needs to be religiously followed by the patient.
The success of joint replacement surgery depends a lot on the activities performed by patient after he gets discharged from the hospital and goes home. To ascertain the success of surgery, patient should follow all the instructions of the physician about diet, medicines and exercises.
Recovery of the patient depends upon the procedure adopted to replace the joint as well as on the patients will power to recover from the joint.
Most of the patients respond well to the surgery and experience relief from pain and better motion of the joint.