do-i-need-a-joint-replacement

Joint Series - Blog 3: Do I Need a Joint Replacement?

Fabio R. Orozco, M.D. January 12th, 2017

Joint replacement surgeries are generally considered to be safe, effective treatment options for more severe cases of arthritis in the major joints. Find out if it's right for you...

If chronic, nagging joint pain has you trying every possible treatment for arthritis, only to find that you're experiencing little to no relief, you're probably wondering: Do I need a joint replacement?

For many of the patients we talk to, the idea of joint replacement surgery is intimidating and a bit overwhelming. But nothing is as overwhelming as the prospect of living with severe joint pain for the rest of your life. And that's exactly why nearly a million joint replacement procedures are performed in the U.S. each year.

This type of surgery, which is becoming increasingly common, is now considered to be a fairly routine, safe, and effective treatment option for certain cases of severe arthritis. So, rather than have you imagine that it's something intimidating and overwhelming, we'd like to give you a clearer picture of what joint replacement surgery actually is.

What You Need to Know About Joint Replacement

Before you can answer the question, "Do I need a joint replacement?" you must first understand the facts about what this kind of procedure actually entails. So, let's start by outlining some of the basics:

  • Joint replacement surgeries can be performed on many joints within the body, including the wrists, ankles, shoulders and elbows. However, replacement of the knees and hips are the most common.

  • During surgery, the damaged cartilage and bone is removed from the body and prosthetic pieces are used to reconstruct a new "joint." This prosthesis feels and functions like the natural joint, allowing the patient to regain a healthy level of mobility and range of motion after the recovery from surgery.

  • Joint replacement procedures usually take 3-4 hours and are either performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center. Many patients go home the same day or the very next day.

Who's a Good Candidate?

Do I Need a Joint Replacement Surgery?

After the non-surgical treatment methods have been exhausted, an orthopaedic surgeon may determine that surgery is the best option for a patient who is still experiencing debilitating joint pain. However, a recommendation for surgery isn't necessarily a recommendation for joint replacement. Another type of joint surgery may be the best solution for your particular case. Ask your doctor about surgeries that accomplish the following:

  • Realign the problematic joint

  • Remove damaged joint lining

A qualified physician will be able to assess the type of arthritis, it's level of severity, and your overall physical condition. Based on these factors, your doctor may conclude that total joint replacement is indeed the best treatment option for you.

Patients that are good candidates for joint replacement are usually those who:

  • Are in good health outside of their arthritis

  • Suffer from pain associated with osteoarthritis (not inflammatory types)

  • Complain of high levels of chronic pain

  • Have one major problematic joint

The Self Test: 5 Questions to Ask

If nonsurgical treatments such as weight loss, medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes fail to relieve your pain, it's time to ask your doctor, "Do I need a joint replacement?" We recommend making an appointment with a qualified orthopaedic physician as soon as possible. In the meantime, ask yourself the list of questions below to begin to determine whether this might be the best option for your particular case.

  1. Can I live with the pain I am currently experiencing?

  2. Have my symptoms (primarily pain) worsened over the past year?

  3. Am I healthy enough for surgery?

  4. Am I prepared to take on the recovery process?

  5. Will my insurance cover this procedure and the costs associated with rehab?

Although our surgeons perform thousands of joint replacement procedures each year at local branches of Rothman Institute, we understand that the decision to have this surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. We hope that this article has provided you with some helpful information.

What Should I Do Now?

Now that you are better informed, we recommend that you visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999 so we can answer any questions you may have about joint replacement.
In the meantime, check out additional resources from this series of blogs on joint pain:

Joint Series - Blog 1: Why do I Have Joint Pain?

Common Causes of Joint Pain

How do I Know if I Have Arthritis

Do I Need to See a Doctor About Arthritis

Joint Series - Blog 2: What are my Treatment Options for Arthritis?

Best Joint Treatment Options

Best Physician for Arthritis

Joint Series - Blog 3: Do I Need a Joint Replacement?

Joint Replacement Recovery

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