What is joint replacement?

Joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which a damaged joint (or the damaged parts of a joint) is removed and a prosthesis is put in place. The prosthesis is a synthetic joint made from plastic or metal. It stays in place either with surgical cement or by allowing the bone to grow into it.


When is joint replacement recommended?

Patients with osteoarthritis may choose joint replacement when this malady has progressed to a severe stage. (This is the most common cause of joint pain, though others do occur.) Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage – the material that covers the end of a bone to reduce friction and absorb shock – loses its flexibility and begins to wear away. Prior to choosing joint replacement, patients may slow the progression of osteoarthritis with braces, medicines or arthroscopy


What is the procedure for joint replacement?

The patient undergoes in-patient surgery at a hospital. An orthopedic surgeon removes the damaged portions of the joint and replaces these portions with a prosthesis. Most patients spend a few days in the hospital following the surgery. From there, most patients recover at home with the help of a home health nurse and a physical therapist.


What are the results of joint replacement?

Usually after just a few weeks of physical therapy and recovery time, patients may participate in some of the same activities that they enjoyed before osteoarthritis limited them. Freedom from pain and virtually a full range of motion are often restored by joint replacement.