About Joint Replacement Surgery
When joint problems become overwhelmingly uncomfortable and debilitating, many people opt to have their old, achy joints replaced with artificial ones. The majority of joint replacements procedures involve the knee, hip and shoulder. Ankle replacements are also becoming increasingly common.
Joint replacement is considered a major surgery. It has also proved to be a very successful surgery. As many as 95 percent of joint replacement patients report high or very high satisfaction rates when considering pain relief, improved mobility, and enhanced quality of life.
When to Consider Joint Replacement
Candidates for joint replacement surgery have severe joint pain, stiffness, swelling, muscle weakness, and limited range of motion. Surgery, however, is the last line of treatment. It's reserved for when all other options, including physical therapy and medications, have failed.
The most common causes of joint deterioration and pain that can lead to replacement are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Being overweight can also contribute to joint problems.
Patients often wonder how long their new joint will last. For most, it's 15 to 20 years or more. Long-term success depends on age, weight and activity level, among other things. Learn the answers to other frequently asked questions about joint replacement surgery.
What to Expect from Joint Replacement
The biggest benefit of joint replacement is improved quality of life.
Surgery can stabilize the joint, allowing you to move more freely. It can relieve severe pain that doesn't respond to medication, therapy or other non-surgical treatments. It can also correct a deformity, improving both the look and function of your joint.
It's important to have realistic ideas about what joint replacement will accomplish, including what the recovery process is like. Preparing ahead of time for your surgery by talking with your doctor and taking advantage of pre-surgical joint replacement education classes are important factors for success and satisfaction.
Joint Replacement Risk Factors to Consider
On the whole, joint replacement surgery is safe. And, Spectrum Health's joint replacement program has attained an even higher level of quality and safety than any other program in West Michigan. However, it's still important to be aware of the potential risks and complications:
- Anesthesia complications
- Blood clots
- Damage to nerves or blood vessels
- Infection in the wound or deep in the joint itself
- Dislocation of the joint
- Loosening of the implant from the bone
- Wearing out of the implant
Although these complications are uncommon, they are possible. Every precaution is taken by your health care team to avoid them.