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Hi, I have aarthritis for many years, I take some pain killers to control constant dull pain, but last time my doctor proposed me to take joint replacement surgery in some time. What is joint replacement surgery?


Joint replacement surgery enables replacing an overused, destroyed joint with an artificial joint. It’s most commonly performed in knee or hip joint. The artificial joint is made out of metal and plastic. In the case of the hand joint, the new joint is most commonly composed of silicone rubber or the patient's own tissues such as a part of tendon. Arthroplasty is another name for joint replacement surgery. Severe arthritis, which causes degeneration of joints leads to their insufficiency and need for replacement. The hips and knees are continuously under stress from walking, running, sport activity, or injury and are more commonly affected by the wearing of cartilage (degenerative arthritis) than the hand joints.


You did not indicate which joint/s were affected. Shoulder replacement surgery is an option - either a Hemi-Arthroplasty (top of humeral head) known as a Copeland; also a full shoulder replacement which involves a full stem prothesis with a glenuhumeral replacement as well. Also there is elbow replacement surgery. Best site for gaining knowledge on all elbow and shoulder surgeries is: - brilliant site.

There are many questions you need to ask about such surgeries before you go ahead not the least being to work in with your rheumy and your GP. From X-Rays, MRI scans, Ultrasounds to shoulder movement to determine ROM (range of movement); ditto elbow. Many factors to take into consideration and to establish before *any surgery is even comtemplated.

Usually your GP, Rheumy and consultant will be conservative in their approach to the problem. Physiotherapy, anti-inflamatories, pain meds, icing. Pilates is often recommended - excellent as Pilates addresses the core muscles and is gentle with stretches - atay away from gyms and work outs and the no pain not gain; going in that direction could cause damage! Ditto cheiropracters...not good!

Should a joint replacement be the only option, then the decision will be which to go for. This will depend on life style, age, occupation, expectations. Three very important asspects. Elbow replacement surgery, whilst reasonly successful will mean no lifting of anything more than about 10lbs in weight, max! Length of life of the prothesis? Shoulder surgery, a Hemi-Arthroplasty, return to normal non sport activities pretty reasonable, above shoulder, impact sports, hauling and heaving? No. Lefe expectancy of the prothesis? About 10 - 12 years. Full replacement, pretty successful, no impact sports, got to always be careful about falling - untold damage possible - stem of the prothesis breaking out through the humerus, smashing the elbow...!

Hip replacement and knee replacements. The most common of all replacement surgeries. Usually very successful. Do not agree to a semi knee replacement though, many problems with the semi; am advised that in the US surgeons will not do a semi knee replacement.

Above all, research the surgeon doing the replacement. How many has he done? Success rate of surgeries. Ask questions, and continue to ask questions. Research, it is your body and you must, need to, take informed responsibility.

In all surgery there can be complications both during and post operatively. Nerve damage is one of the most frequent of the post-op damage experienced by patients. Yu need to be advised and very clear about what you may be facing. Again, ask questions, and ASK. Keep a logged copy of your questions and answers - give your surgeon a cc of your questions, and ensure that all the points you raise are addressed. (You might need this info afterwards!)

Hope this has helped.

Go well, stay well -