It wasn’t that long ago in history that an arthritic hip or a severe knee injury meant spending the rest of one’s life permanently disabled and/or in a wheelchair. Thankfully, with modern medical techniques and the availability of highly trained orthopaedic specialists at Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine, the average healthy person has every reason to expect a positive outcome from replacement surgery.
Which Joints are Replaceable?
The most common joints that surgeons replace are the hip joints and the knee joints. A shoulder joint replacement is another type that is somewhat common. Other areas, including the elbows, ankles, wrists, and even the fingers have joints that can be replaced in certain circumstances.
Why Joint Replacement?
The simple wear and tear that occurs in and around joints is one of the most common reasons for a joint replacement, making this type of surgery fairly standard as one advances in age. Severe injuries, such as a debilitating vehicle accident or a sports injury, may be other reasons as to why someone might need to undergo a joint replacement. Risk factors that may exacerbate the need for a joint replacement include:
- hormonal changes at menopause
Obesity and the extra stress it places on joints, as well as diabetes which can accelerate osteoarthritis, can lead to the need for joint replacement. In addition, post-menopausal women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men, thus increasing their likelihood for an eventual joint replacement. Heredity can also play a role in determining which joints develop issues and when.
How Do I Know if I Need a New Joint?
Of course, in the case of a traumatic injury the physician dealing with your treatment may see the need for a joint replacement in order to restore full functioning to the injured area. For classic wear and tear conditions, patients will typically experience a significant amount of pain in and around the affected joint, as well as a continual decrease in their ability to use the affected area and have it function normally. If more conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication and daily living aids (such as a walker or cane) do not provide enough relief, then an orthopedic specialist may discuss pursuing surgical options such as joint replacement.
Are Joint Replacements Permanent?
Joint replacements do have their own life span. On average, a patient can expect their joint replacement to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years — with 90% finding their replacement lasting 10 years, while 80% finding their joint replacement lasted 15 years. Joint replacement surgery and the recovery time afterward can be intense so some doctors may recommend that their patients hold off on these types of surgeries as long as possible, in order to reduce the likelihood of requiring a second replacement in later years.
Choosing joint replacement surgery is a decision that has a lifelong impact. Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine understands that many factors play into joint replacement surgery and we want our patients to be confident in choosing our providers. To make an appointment to discuss joint surgery options with one of our highly skilled orthopaedic surgery specialists, contact us at (757) 873-1554.