Joint replacement is a surgical procedure that removes part of an arthritic or damaged joint. The portion that is removed is then replaced with a metal, plastic, or ceramic device called prosthesis. The prosthesis that takes place of the joint is designed to duplicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint.
Although most they are performed on the hip and knee, replacement surgery can also be performed on other joints like the ankle, wrist, shoulder, and elbow.
There are many different options for joint replacement. The most common are arthroscopy, minimally invasive joint replacement, and total joint replacement. However, partial joint replacement, osteotomy, synovectomy, joint revision, and fusion are also joint surgeries that serve many patients.
The cause of joint pain and disability can vary widely, leading patients to consider joint replacement. More often than not, this joint pain is caused by damaged cartilage that lines the ends of the bones. The cartilage may become damaged due to arthritis, a fracture, a pervious injury, or an existing condition.
During a joint replacement surgery, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed from the existing joint and replaced with a prosthetic piece that mimics the natural joint. Total joint replacement is seen most often in more mature patients who have arthritis or other chronic issues. If the injury is less severe and not arthritis related, it may not be necessary to remove all of the cartilage and bone. Instead, the joint can be reconstructed using less invasive techniques. This type of joint repair is more common among athletes and patients who suffer a sports or exercise related injury.
Depending on the pain or injury, you may be able to alleviate your joint pain using nonsurgical treatments like medications, physical therapy, and changes to your daily activities. However, if the pain persists you may want to consider talking to your doctor about joint replacement.