The Benefits and Risks of Joint Replacement
Serious injuries involving joints in the body can have extreme side effects that may prevent patients from ever fully regaining mobility in the injured area. For example, an individual involved in a sporting accident where the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is torn is at greater risk of developing further complications down the road; one of which may be osteoarthritis. In these cases, medical professionals will often bring up the topic of total joint replacement depending on the severity of the injury, and how much pain the patient may be in.
The most common reason individuals may seek total joint replacement surgeries, or that doctors may recommend them is to alleviate pain, which is obviously the largest benefit that comes with this procedure. In order to do this, the surgeon have the damaged areas of the joint removed, replacing them with either plastic or metal implants. Many patients have a false impression in terms of how joint replacements are done, thinking that the entire bone itself must be replaced. While much more serious cases require more bone to be removed, only the diseased cartilage and bone are replaced with implants.
Improving the functionality of the joint replaced is another benefit that comes with this surgery. Though it is not always guaranteed, many patients have reported increased mobility and easier movement post surgery, specifically with knee and hip replacements. What once may have been a crippling part of the body now has the opportunity to provide higher levels of functionality, which is especially beneficial for athletes and individuals engaging in constant movement.
Like any form of surgery, total joint replacements come with risks, and these risks have a higher chance of occurrence with preexisting medical conditions. Any complication involving a weakened immune system for example, increases the risk of blood clots or general infections. Work closely with your doctor before and after undergoing this surgery to decide whether or not taking antibiotics throughout will be beneficial.
Another obvious risk is the procedure failing once completed. There is always a chance that the joint replaced performs worse than it had prior to surgery. Particularly in patients who have undergone knee replacements, signs and symptoms of an unsuccessful procedure include stiffness, weakness, and pain upon standing. In order to prevent this, develop an effective rehabilitation program with your doctor depending on your needs and lifestyle. It’s important to include plenty of rest, proper medicine and diet, and low-intensity exercises designed to heal and strengthen the repaired joint.
For individuals of older age who choose to have joint replacement surgery, keeping your expectations realistic is crucial. With old age comes weakened bones and muscles, but replacing any damaged bones will not restore the mobility one once had at a younger age. However, it is a great procedure for alleviating pain in affected areas. In some cases, surgery may not be required, and other forms of treatment may be just as effective. Talk to your doctor if you are considering undergoing joint replacement surgery to see if it is right for you.