Arthroplasty, or joint replacement surgery, can help restore function to joints damaged due to arthritis, injury, or other conditions. However, when a person thinks about having their joint replaced with an artificial one for functional reasons, they often think: Does this procedure fulfill my needs? Will I be able to recover quickly? Will I face any side effects or complications from this procedure? What kind of results can I expect?

To help you decide if arthroplasty is the best course of action for you, we will discuss its facets in detail, including benefits and risks. Call Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine at 941.378.5100 to learn more about arthroplasty.

What is Arthroplasty?

A damaged or arthritic joint is replaced surgically with a prosthetic one that resembles and functions like the natural one through arthroplasty. During this procedure, your healthcare provider will use metal, ceramic, or heavy-duty plastic prostheses to replace the affected area.

Skilled surgeons can exchange joints in any area of your body. However, the most common procedures are hip, shoulder, and knee replacements. A total joint replacement is necessary for most people when undergoing this procedure; however, some individuals may be suitable candidates for partial arthroplasty as an alternative. In this case, only the damaged portion of the joint will be replaced.

The time it takes to recuperate from such surgery fluctuates and depends on factors including age and lifestyle habits, which type of operation was administered, and what body part required replacing.

Who Needs Arthroplasty?

Your doctor may advise arthroplasty as a potential course of treatment if you have any of the following conditions:

  • If you’ve been trying treatments such as physical therapy, medications, bracing, injections, and more to manage your joint pain, nothing seems to be helping – there’s no need to lose hope. Although walking assistive devices and rest can help reduce the discomfort these ailments cause daily, you will likely receive complete pain relief from an arthroplasty. 
  • The annoying joint stiffness and restricted mobility that prevents you from performing your everyday activities can be incredibly frustrating – making you a good candidate for arthroplasty.
  • Persistent inflammation that does not respond to medications or lifestyle adjustments should be addressed promptly.

How To Prepare For Arthroplasty?

You will receive a thorough explanation of the process from your healthcare provider, giving you a chance to understand it and ask any questions you have fully. After this, they may request your signature on a consent form confirming your authorization for them to carry out the process. Again, please peruse it carefully and ask questions if anything needs clarification.

To ensure superior health before undergoing said treatment, they may also suggest completing a comprehensive medical history and executing thorough physical tests or drawing blood samples – depending on what needs further investigation or confirmation before going through with it.

Your healthcare provider needs to be aware of any allergies or sensitivities you may have with medicines, latex, tape, and local/general anesthetic agents. They must also know what prescription, over-the-counter, and natural medications patients consume.

Finally, if there is a history of bleeding disorders in your family and whether you take blood-thinning medicines like aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting, they must recognize this before the procedure begins, so accordingly, stop such meds beforehand if necessary.

If you are pregnant, inform your doctor promptly. Before the procedure, you must not eat or drink for 8 hours before midnight – this will prepare you for what’s ahead. In addition, medication may be given before starting to assist with feeling calm and relaxed during the process.

Arthroplasty – Surgical Procedure

Total joint replacement surgery is relatively quick and typically completed in less than 2 hours. It can be performed either at a hospital or outpatient surgical center. When you undergo surgery, your problematic cartilage and bone are removed from the joint and replaced with metal, plastic, or ceramic prosthetic parts. These artificial materials imitate the form and motion of a normal joint.

For instance, in an arthritic hip replacement operation, the deteriorated ball (the top part of the femur) is swapped for a metal one connected to a stem that fits securely into the femur. In contrast, at the same time, a plastic socket is fitted into your pelvis as a substitute for the destroyed socket.

Your arthroplasty treatment will start with anesthesia in a hospital or an outpatient facility to ensure you won’t experience discomfort. Then, your surgeon will make the necessary incisions and replace the damaged joint with a prosthetic one. Next, they may use surgical glue, staples, or stitches to close up these cuts, bandaging the affected area and additional support such as braces and slings if needed.

Through the use of special tools and fewer incisions, surgeons are capable of performing joint replacement procedures with a minimally invasive technique. This process can expedite recovery time compared to traditional methods, and your surgeon may also recommend it as the most appropriate option for you.

Benefits of Arthroplasty

  • Improved Mobility: An arthroplasty can diminish stiffness and improve mobility.
  • Relief From Pain: Through joint replacement surgery, individuals may experience a significant decrease in pain levels, even complete relief.
  • Enjoy Independence: As a person’s mobility and pain levels improve, their dependence on others reduces as they can better complete tasks themselves.
  • Cost Saving: When comparing the cost of joint replacement surgery with years’ worth of medical bills and physical therapy, it becomes evident that opting for the surgical procedure is more economical.

Risks of Arthroplasty

While arthroplasty is generally safe, complications can occur. Such risks include blood clots, infections, nerve damage around the replaced joint, and joint stiffness or instability that could result in fracture. Also, problems with the new prosthetic implant, such as dislocation, are possible.

Existing medical diseases like diabetes, hemophilia, or lupus significantly raise your risk of complications after a replacement. That’s why informing your provider about any pre-existing health conditions before surgery is imperative. In addition, these illnesses may make the recovery process from joint replacement more difficult.

Arthroplasty – Recovery

It is expected that you will need to spend one to four days recovering in a hospital, depending on the kind of joint replacement. Upon returning home, your doctor recommends limiting physical activity for several weeks. Those with partial joint replacements can resume light activities within a few weeks after surgery. However, to ensure complete recovery and long-term results, exercise prescribed by your physician or physical therapist is essential – these specific exercises help restore movement while fortifying the replaced joints.

The extent of your post-surgery healing period may vary, depending on a combination of several components:

  • Activity levels and lifestyle habits
  • Age
  • Replaced joint type
  • Other orthopedic problems or underlying health issues
  • The kind of arthroplasty you had – total or partial joint replacement

How Long Do Joint Replacements Last?

A new joint produced with arthroplasty will serve you well for approximately 10 to 15 years. However, remember that this is different for everyone. The lifespan of implants varies from individual to individual. Therefore, you must consult your provider about how best to care for the newly installed joint. If it doesn’t last as long as anticipated, some adjustments might be required, and an alternative can be implemented.

The skilled physicians at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine are highly experienced in total and partial joint replacement surgeries. To arrange an appointment, dial 941.378.5100.