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What is Joint Replacement Surgery?

A joint is an articulation (junction) between 2 or more bones in the body. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other soft tissue structures hold the joint in position.

Joint replacement surgery is a procedure in which the damaged or worn out articulating parts of the joint are removed and replaced with artificial prostheses. The goal of the surgery is to relieve pain and restore the normal functioning of the joint and help you resume normal activities.

Joint replacement surgery is mostly employed to treat symptoms of arthritis, a condition in which the articular cartilage that covers the joint surface is damaged or worn out causing significant pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joint.

Indications for Joint Replacement Surgery

Some of the common indications of joint replacement surgery include the following:

  • Treatment of arthritic conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis of the joints
  • Severe joint pain that limits your daily activities (such as walking, getting up from a chair, or climbing stairs)
  • Moderate-to-severe pain that occurs during rest or awakens you at night
  • Chronic joint inflammation and swelling that is not relieved with rest or medications
  • Weakness and/or loss of joint motion
  • Severe joint fracture or trauma
  • Failure to obtain pain relief from medications, injections, physical therapy or other conservative treatments

Am I a Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?

To help your doctor decide if joint replacement surgery is ideal for you, please answer the questions below.

  • 1. In general, your joint pain can be described as:

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  • 2. Are you able to perform your basic household functions?

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  • 3. Does your joint pain affect your sleep?

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  • 4. Since how long have you been having joint pain?

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    5. If the joint pain is in your knee or hip, do you have pain while standing, walking or sitting?

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  • 6. Are you able to walk down a flight of stairs?

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  • 7. While walking, how long does it take before you experience joint pain?

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  • 8. While driving, entering and exiting a car or using other forms of transport, your joint pain is described as:

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  • 9. After sitting for a long time, describe the pain you experience on standing?

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  • 10. How much has joint pain interfered with your work, hobbies, or recreational activities?

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  • 11. Have you had relief from other forms of therapy or with the use of assistive devices?

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  • 12. What Kinds of Treatments Have You Utilized To Mitigate Joint Pain?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for a total knee replacement?

You may be a candidate for total knee replacement surgery if you have osteoarthritis or joint damage that has not adequately responded to more conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy, cortisone or hyaluronic acid injections, and over the counter medications. Although knee replacements are considered safe and highly effective, results still vary from patient to patient. It is important to discuss your options with your orthopedist to determine if total knee replacement is right for you.

What should I expect during a total knee replacement?

Total knee replacement surgery is an inpatient procedure that is performed using spinal anesthesia anesthesia. Your doctor will make an incision, exposing the bone beneath. Damaged cartilage and a small amount of the bone will be removed and replaced by metal implants that are either cemented or pressed into the bone. Finally, your doctor may resurface your patella and insert a smooth spacer into your joint to facilitate fluid movement. The entire procedure usually takes no more than one hour.

What should I expect after surgery?

You will probably spend two to three days in the hospital after your surgery. During this time, the medical staff and your orthopedist will monitor your condition to ensure you are comfortable and that you are not developing unwanted blood clots after surgery. Your doctors and nurses will also work to prevent complications of surgery, such as pneumonia. Expect to begin a physical therapy regimen within 24 hours of your knee replacement. It will be important to continue these exercises for many weeks to facilitate a strong recovery.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • New England Orthopedic Society
  • aahks
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • tufts school of medicine