Total Joint Replacement & Reconstruction
Sometimes the best way to relieve pain and restore function to a joint is to replace all or part of it with a prosthesis (an artificial joint). Prostheses are intended to restore function to the joint and relieve pain associated with arthritis, other chronic conditions, or traumatic injury.
Prostheses are designed to move like a regular joint. They are made of durable plastic and metal parts that fit together snugly but glide smoothly (as opposed to the painful friction associated with the worn cartilage of arthritic joints). The pieces are shaped like the structures they replace - for example, the damaged bones in a ball-and-socket joint of a hip or shoulder are replaced with a metal ball and plastic socket. They are held to the surrounding bone either with a locking mechanism or with a special bone cement.
The length and difficulty of recovery depend on the location of the joint replaced as well as the patient's age and overall health. Hip or knee surgery typically requires temporary use of a cane or walker. Some pain and stiffness following surgery is normal. Gradually, the weakened muscles regain strength and flexibility as the patient becomes accustomed to using the joint. The physician will discuss when it is safe to return to any athletic activities. Once in place, prostheses usually perform well for up to a decade or longer.
What is Joint Reconstruction
Joint reconstruction ranges from minor repairs to the damaged joint to total joint replacement. These treatment options can offer temporary pain relief or permanent solutions to joint disorders. The type of treatment best for you depends on the type and severity of your joint disorder. Together, you and your doctor can develop the most effective treatment option for your needs.
Joint Reconstructive Surgery Treatment Options
Joint Replacement Surgery
Joint replacement is a complicated procedure that is for severe joint pain that does not respond to more conservative methods. Replacement surgery is usually performed on the hip, shoulder or knee. Prosthetic joints are designed to move just like regular joints and are made of durable metal and plastic to fit together smoothly. The length of relief depends on the individual, but replacement joints tend to last for over 10 years.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your doctor to make minor adjustments to joints through tiny incisions and the use of a camera. This procedure can help release pressure from a tight ligament to increase the range of motion for a stiff joint, remove bone spurs and trim soft tissues like cartilage.
Osteotomy or “bone cutting” removes a section of bone near a damaged joint. This shifts the weight away from the damaged cartilage to an area with healthier cartilage, temporarily relieving the pain. This procedure is typically performed on the knee or hip for younger patients who do not want to have joint replacement surgery yet.
Resurfacing is most commonly performed on the hip and is also for younger patients who may not benefit from total hip replacement. It is less complicated than hip replacement and usually retains a more normal feeling after surgery. Results can last up to 8 years, but long-term studies are not yet available.
Arthrodesis fuses together two bones in a damaged joint to prevent the joint from moving and causing pain. This is a more extreme treatment method that is used when medication and other conservative methods are no longer effective.
Small Joint Surgery
If joints in the hands or feet cannot be used because of damage, they may be replaced to restore limited movement and activities.