Joint replacement is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed today, with the hip and knee being the most frequently replaced joints. In fact, knee replacements have doubled in the past decade, and not just among the elderly. People ages 45 to 64 were 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for knee replacement surgery in 2009 than in 1997.* But joint replacement may not be the best solution for everyone. Many factors will determine whether trading in your aching joint for a stronger, better, faster replacement is the right step for you.
The nuts and bolts of joint replacement
Joint deterioration has a number of causes. Injuries, autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and the general wear and tear that occur over time may all take a toll on the body’s joints, causing pain and inhibiting motion. Joint replacement surgery exchanges the worn out part with a prosthesis made of plastic, metal or a combination of both.
With successful outcomes in more than 90 percent of cases,* patients who’ve had a joint replaced may enjoy better quality of life, relief from pain, stiffness or swelling and improved range of motion. But no surgery is without risks and, although the complication rate in joint replacement is low, patients are susceptible to infection, blood clots and loosening or dislocation of the joint.
When is joint replacement the right choice?
The severity of your condition will likely be a significant factor in the decision to have joint replacement surgery. If aching and stiff joints cause constant pain, limit your ability to walk or climb stairs and affect your quality of life, you may be a likely candidate for joint replacement surgery.
“The goal of a total joint replacement is to relieve the pain and improve function in the joint caused by damage to the cartilage by fracture or arthritis,” explains Dr. Paul Matson, orthopedic surgeon at Redwood Area Hospital. “The pain may be so sever that a person will avoid using the joint, weakening the muscles around the joint and making it even more difficult to move the joint.”
In addition to the extent of your pain and lost mobility, your doctor will consider:
- Alternatives to surgery. Depending on the cause of your joint pain, medications, physical therapy or aids, such as a brace, may be effective treatment options.
- Your age. Little research has been done on the long-term effectiveness of joint replacement for a younger, more physically active generation. Prosthetic joints typically last only 10 to 15 years, making younger candidates more likely to need additional surgeries to have the prosthetic joint replaced.
- Your general health. Certain diseases, such as high blood pressure or heart and lung disease increase the risks associated with surgery. Osteoporosis and bone or joint deformity may affect the success of joint replacement.
- Your weight. Obesity can prolong recovery and affect the durability of the new joint.
Get back in the game
If a bum joint has you sitting on the bench, contact Redwood Area Hospital’s Convenient Care department at 507-637-4631. Whether you want to get back in the game or simply back to your life, our orthopedic specialists can help you find the treatment option that works best for you.
Through and expanded partnership with Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, based in Mankato, Total joint replacements will be performed by orthopedic specialists, Dr. Edwin Harrington and Dr. Paul Matson. The two orthopedic specialists have a practice established at Redwood Area Hospital and have been seeing patients and performing other orthopedic surgeries at the local hospital for many years.
“Being able to provide total joint replacements at Redwood Area Hospital is a great benefit to our patients,” says Dr. Harrington. “This will allow our patients to being their rehabilitation process with the hospital’s rehab team very soon after surgery and throughout their recovery, providing a consistent continuum of care during a major surgical event.”