Is the pain in your knee, hip, or shoulder preventing you from completing your daily tasks? Does the pain keep you up at night? Does it keep you from participating in activities that you enjoy? If so, you may have thought about joint replacement surgery, but you probably have questions: Which procedures are best? What alternatives should be sought first?
Joint replacement surgery is the removal and replacement of a damaged joint with a new artificial joint. Some or all of the joint may be removed and replaced, depending on your condition. Some advanced surgical procedures, like the MAKO® knee resurfacing procedure, produce results that are similar to joint replacement surgery without fully replacing the joint. In the MAKO®procedure, for example, only the portions of the joint that have degenerated due to osteoarthritis are removed; a small implant is then inserted into the knee to facilitate motion.
Bone is a living tissue, which requires a blood supply and nutrients in order to sustain itself and regenerate. Over time, bone matter may degenerate and become prone to fracturing (osteoporosis), which may lead to joint degeneration. Cartilage is a protein substance that acts as a cushion between bones. The disease of cartilage (osteoarthritis) can also lead to joint degeneration.
Osteoarthritis may cause joint degeneration during old age. However, joints with healthy articular cartilage may degenerate over time if the surrounding ligaments are weak or if the bones bear weight unevenly, creating stress in a particular area of the joint.
Only a physician can answer this question. If you’re having severe joint pain, an orthopedic surgeon may evaluate your joint to see if you’re a candidate. During the evaluation, the physician may test your range of motion, strength, and ask you to describe the pain in your joint. Further diagnostic testing may include a CT scan, MRI, x-ray, bone densitometry test, or blood test for arthritis.
Today, joint replacement surgery is an option for more people than ever. With certain technologies, like MAKO® total hip replacement, many patients are able to walk the same day as their joint replacement procedure and return to their normal lives shortly thereafter.
Not only are hip replacements more convenient and commonplace today; so are knee replacements. A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that the number of knee replacements performed annually has doubled since 1991, and is expected to reach 3.5 million per year by 2030. Furthermore, length of stay has decreased by more than half.
Different surgeons and hospitals use different materials for artificial joints. The most common materials used in artificial joints are plastic, ceramic, and metals, such as titanium, chrome, stainless steel, or cobalt alloys. Sometimes a combination of materials may be used. This new artificial joint may be cemented into the bone or attached without cement. Artificial joints wear down over time, and will need to be replaced in younger active patients after 10 to 15 years.
Surgery should always be considered a last resort, even when the rate of risk and complication is relatively low. Steroid injections, cortisone, anti-inflammatory medicines, and physical therapy are all options for managing pain. However, once the cartilage in a joint has degenerated, it will not repair itself or regenerate. Depending on the severity of your pain and/or the level of activity you enjoy, joint replacement surgery may be necessary.
At The Center for Precision Joint Replacement at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, some patients have the option of choosing the MAKO® partial knee resurfacing procedure. This innovative procedure has a remarkably low failure rate of just 0.4 percent two years after surgery. The surgery is performed in a minimally invasive fashion, using an advanced robotic arm system that allows for pinpoint accuracy and optimum implant placement.