Diseases of the joints such as arthritis can be severe enough to cause extreme pain and difficulty in moving the affected joint. In such cases, joint replacement surgery is advised when pain medication, injections or arthroscopy fail to provide relief to the patient.
The Goals of Joint Replacement Surgery
When pain in the joint becomes disabling, joint replacement surgery might be the only solution for pain relief. This surgery also provides improved mobility to the joint so that the weakened muscles can regain their strength again and the patient can return to his/her daily activities.
Typically the extent of joint damage is assessed through a careful history and examination as well as imaging tests. Only then will the doctor decide whether a joint replacement surgery is needed or not.
How is Surgery Performed?
Total joint replacement surgery is done under general anaesthesia. The damaged tissues and structure in the joints are removed and replaced with synthetic materials that aim to restore function and movement.
Generally, the materials used for the replacement include metals like stainless steel and titanium. Polyethene is also used at the ends because of its durability and resistance. This two-part structure completes the prosthesis and allows for maximum function.
Surgery can be performed through a minimally invasive technique, computer-aided navigation or open surgery. Minimally invasive surgeries have multiple benefits including less pain, a smaller scar and quicker rehabilitation.
If the joint disease isn’t too extensive, then a half knee replacement surgery (uni-condylar knee replacement) can be considered. The recovery period in this surgery is shorter, and the patient is able to return to his/her activities earlier.
Post-op care and rehabilitation are crucial for early recovery. Special physiotherapy exercises are also advised.
Patients who have undergone a total knee replacement can return to sports like golf and swimming; however, active sports such as running is not recommended.