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What is Joint Replacement

A joint is formed when the ends of two or more bones come together. The ends of the bones in a joint are covered with a smooth layer called cartilage. Normal cartilage allows the joint to move and glide with ease. When the cartilage is damaged or diseased by arthritis, joints become stiff and painful. A total joint replacement is the removal of an arthritic or damaged joint that is then replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis.

The goal of joint replacement surgery is to relieve the pain in the joint caused by the damage done to the cartilage. The pain may be so severe a person will avoid using the joint. Total joint replacement will be considered if other treatment options will not relieve the pain and disability.

What kind of joints can be replaced?

Although hip and knee replacements are the most common joint replaced, this surgery can be performed on other joints, including:

Ankle  |  Elbow  |  Finger  |  Hip  |  Knee  |  Shoulder

Who is a candidate for joint replacement?

Any joint in your body can become damaged by osteoarthritis resulting from wear and tear over time, by rheumatoid arthritis, or by an injury. If you are experiencing consistent pain in your daily activities, you should be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. Rest, medication, and therapy are the first lines of treatment, but for those whose cartilage is too worn or whose bone structures are too damaged to respond to conservative measures, a total joint replacement (arthroplasty) may be the best option.

What should you expect from Joint Replacement surgery?

Over the last two decades, improvements in materials and techniques have made total joint replacement a common and highly successful surgery, with around 300,000 being performed every year in the U.S. After your operation, you will remain in the hospital for 1-3 days and may need crutches or a walker for 3-6 weeks depending on the joint being replaced. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 90% of those who have joint replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction in pain and a significant improvement in their ability to perform common activities of daily living. Activities like walking, golf, and swimming are recommended, but you'll need to avoid high-impact activities like jogging.