Most Common Joint Replacement Surgeries

Most Common Joint Replacement Surgeries

We live in an era when advanced medicine – and joint replacements in particular – are allowing people with debilitating conditions to live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives. Over 1 million total hip and total knee replacement procedures are performed in the U.S. each year. By 2015, roughly 7 million Americans were living with a hip or knee replacement. Most were mobile despite having advanced arthritis.

The fact is, replacement surgery can be conducted on many different joints, including elbows, wrists, ankles, and fingers. Patients choose to undergo such surgeries for numerous reasons:

  • Restore motion
  • Ease pain
  • Improve joint function
  • Repair joint alignment and appearance

Being told you may need an artificial joint can certainly be scary. This type of surgery will only be considered if your physician can first pinpoint the exact source of the problem and, typically, after more conservative treatments haven’t worked. As a patient, you should be educated about your options so that you fully understand the procedure and why it is being recommended. To get a sense of what joint replacement surgery entails, consider the four most common ones:

Artificial Disc Replacement

About eight percent of adults experience persistent or chronic back pain that limits their ability to perform everyday activities. Artificial disc replacement is often an option for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) or a severely damaged disc causing that pain. In disc replacement surgery, the damaged discs are replaced with artificial ones to alleviate pain and strengthen the spine. Typically, they are made of a metal outer shell with a medical-grade plastic interior.

This is one of several surgical options for people suffering from severe spinal issues. A relatively new procedure, lumbar disc replacement may be an alternative to fusion surgery and is often considered when medication and physical therapy haven’t worked.

Hip Replacement Surgery

If you suffer from severe hip pain and non-surgical methods haven’t been successful in managing your symptoms, you may be a candidate for hip replacement surgery. The hip joint resembles a ball-and-socket, in that the rounded end of one bone sits in the hollow of another one, allowing for a rotation movement. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and a sudden or repetitive injury are all common causes of persistent pain that can only be eliminated with surgery.

A hip replacement (“hip arthroplasty”) involves replacing the femur (head of the thighbone) and the acetabulum (hip socket). Typically, the artificial ball and stem are made of a strong metal and the artificial socket of polyethylene – a durable, wear-resistant plastic. This operation requires the surgeon to dislocate the hip and remove the damaged femoral head, replacing it with a metal stem.

Knee Replacement Surgery

The knee joint is like a hinge that enables the leg to bend and straighten. Patients sometimes opt to have their knee replaced after it has been so severely damaged by arthritis or injury that they are unable to perform basic movements like walking and sitting. In this type of surgery, an artificial joint composed of metal and polyethylene is used to replace the diseased one. The prosthesis can be anchored into place with bone cement or covered with an advanced material that allows bone tissue to grow into it.

The Total Joint Clinic at MidAmerica Orthopaedics specializes in these types of surgery. Out team ensures that several steps occur before such a serious procedure would take place. A knee specialist will first conduct a thorough examination that includes assessing your knee ligaments through a variety of diagnostics. As with the other joint replacement surgeries, both the patient and physician must be in agreement that this procedure is the best option for regaining as much functionality of the knee as possible.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Like the hip joint, a shoulder replacement involves a ball-and-socket joint. The artificial shoulder joint can have either two or three parts. This is because there are different approaches to shoulder joint replacements, depending on which part of the shoulder needs to be saved:

  1. A metal humeral component is implanted in the humerus (bone between your shoulder and elbow).
  2. A metal humeral head component replaces the humeral head at the top of the humerus.
  3. A plastic glenoid component replaces the surface of the glenoid socket.

Replacement procedures tend to restore joint function significantly and reduce pain in the vast majority of patients. While the expected life of conventional joint replacements is difficult to estimate, it is not unlimited, however. Some patients may benefit from ongoing advances that increase the lifetime of prostheses.

No one should ever feel rushed into a serious medical decision such as joint replacement surgery. The award-winning physicians and joint replacement specialists at MidAmerica’s Total Joint Clinic can inform you about the different treatment options available to you. Visit us online or call (708) 237-7200 to make an appointment with one of our specialists to get started on your road to a more active, pain-free life.

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