2017-08-10 / Healthy Living

Replacing worn joints can improve mobility

Joint replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged joint with a new one called a prosthesis. These new joints usually are made of a metal, plastic or a ceramic device. Hips and knees are the joints replaced most often, but shoulders, ankles, and elbows can be replaced as well.

Joint replacement is usually considered after exercise, walking aids, physical therapy or medications cannot relieve pain and improve mobility. Surgery for hip replacement patients, for example, can help lessen problems walking or make it easier to bend. Joint damage is caused by osteoarthritis, injuries, other diseases and joint wear caused by avascular necrosis, which is the loss of bone caused by low blood supply.

Before surgery, the surgeon evaluates the patient’s range of motion and joint strength, takes a medical history and takes X-rays to determine the extent of your damage. The doctor may put a small, lighted tube called an arthoscope into the joint to check for damage. In some cases, only the damaged parts would be replaced, not the entire joint. During a hip replacement surgery, diseased or damaged bone and tissue is removed and a metal stem and attached ball is then inserted into the bone and a cup is inserted into the socket of the hip joint.

New joints can be cemented into place to hold the new joint to the bone, this is called cemented prosthesis. Another way is by the prosthesis being placed without cement so bone can grow and attach to it. A prosthesis is designed to duplicate the mechanical properties of the joint being replaced. A prosthetic knee, for example, will be flexible enough to bend without breaking and strong enough to bear weight.

Most hip and knee replacement patients are discharged from the hospital one to three days after surgery. Patients will be encouraged to perform specific exercises recommended by their doctors to help the recovery process. Pain after surgery is normal as it comes from the lack of activity and healing tissues.

A majority of patients who undergo joint replacement surgery find it easier to perform daily activities and experience less pain throughout their lives. However, if problems do arise, most can be treated. Possible complications from joint replacement surgery include infections, blood clots, loosening, dislocation or wear of the new joint, or nerve injury. Hip replacement patients also may experience a change in leg length or joint stiffening. Following hip replacement surgery, most patients eventually will be able to swim, play golf or bike ride comfortably, but high-impact sports such as skiing and running are not recommended.

Joint replacement surgery is becoming more common in the United

States, with more than 1 million Americans having a hip or knee replaced annually. Orthopedic surgeons at

Palm Beach Gardens have years of combined experience in replacing ing joints. After surgery, we’ll be here to help you through the rehabilitation process. Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center provides free monthly osteoporosis assessments for the community.

The screenings are performed using an ultrasonometer, and bone density is measured through the heel. Regular activities may be resumed immediately following the exam. Registration is required. To make an appointment for the next screening — Aug. 17 — please call 844-630-4114. ¦

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