Total Joint Replacement
Arthritis is a group of diseases that plague millions of Americans. It can be mild enough to cause stiffness and aching or severe enough to be crippling. Fortunately, there are good treatments for many forms of arthritis. In mild or moderate cases, medications, injections, appropriate exercise programs, and activity modifications can help most patients cope with arthritis.
However, as the disease worsens, the joint surface becomes more and more permanently deformed to the point that usual treatments are not sufficient to allow decent quality of life. In these situations the only alternative may be joint replacement. Usually this means replacing the surface of the joint with man-made materials that allow the joint to move freely without the pain of arthritis. Hip and knee replacements have been performed for over 40 years with many technological advances during that time.
The time to recover has progressively shortened for joint replacement procedures. In the early 1990’s the time in the hospital was 7-10 days with prolonged rehabilitation. Now, the procedure could be done as an outpatient procedure or with a short hospital stay. Along with decreased hospital stays, often the physical therapy can be done in the home with transition to outpatient physical therapy. Newer surgical techniques aimed at reducing the trauma to the tissues are under investigation as well as different materials and designs of implants.
We are hopeful that some of the advances being made will also lead to increased longevity of the replacement. It is very important that our joint replacement patients return for regular follow up in order to monitor the status of the replacement. Fortunately, most implants have replaceable bearing surfaces that can be changed with a relatively minor procedure if wear is detected early.
At Ellis and Badenhausen, we try our best to make the process of joint replacement as easy as possible. Our surgery schedulers assist patients in preparing for the procedure by arranging for preoperative education, preoperative physical therapy, preadmission testing, preauthorization from insurance companies, as well as getting answers to the questions that come up about the surgery. We also will involve home health services and assist in getting medical supplies that may be needed after the procedure is done.
Total joint replacements have helped many people get back to a normal life after other medical treatments have failed. Although there can be complications from any surgical procedure, the success rate of hip and knee replacements is over 90% at 10 years from surgery in most of the published studies. We are hopeful that this number will continue to improve as newer advances in techniques and materials become available.
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