Due to an ageing population, knee and hip replacement are fast becoming one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures the world over. In 2010, in the US alone, approximately 700,000 knee replacements and 300,000 hip replacements were done. These numbers are expected to grow with time. Joint replacement surgeries are not only frequently performed in the US but in Pakistan as well. A joint replacement surgery in Pakistan is performed for a variety of reasons; an advanced age, arthritis and other medical conditions being the primary reasons. In addition, there is another reason why joint replacement surgery is being done in greater numbers – it is considered as one of the safest and most reliable treatments in any area of medicine.
Joint Replacement Surgery 101: What is it?
In a joint replacement surgery, damaged or diseased parts of a joint are removed and replaced with man-made parts. As mentioned earlier, hip and knee replacements are done more frequently than other joints. However, joints like elbows, ankles, fingers and shoulders are also replaced though not as frequently. Surgeons recommend such surgeries to help reduce pain and regain lost mobility.
Knee and hip replacement surgeries may be one of the most effective ways of replacing painful/damaged joints, but they are not for every patient. Your doctor will consider the following factors before recommending you for a joint replacement surgery:
● Have all non-surgical measures been considered
● If yes, have they failed in achieving the desired goals
● Is the health of the patient good enough to undergo anesthesia
● Will the patient be able to cope with rehabilitation regime post-surgery
Is joint replacement inevitable?
Can it be avoided? A joint replacement surgery may be avoidable depending upon how effectively you manage the damage of arthritis. Arthritis damage can be curtailed in the following ways:
● Arthritis medications
● Joint injections
● Nutritional supplements
● Weight loss
● Low impact exercises like swimming, biking, walking, etc.
The abovementioned can help you live with arthritis for as long as possible. However, when they fail to alleviate pain and you begin to experience loss in mobility, a joint replacement surgery may be recommended to relieve pain and regain lost mobility.
Why do joints require replacing?
As mentioned above, there are a variety of reasons why surgeons would recommend replacing joints – disease, years of use and arthritis are three main reasons behind joint replacement surgeries. However, it is worth reminding that surgeons would recommend surgery only after all other non-invasive options have been exhausted. Surgeons initially typically recommend the following:
● Physical therapy
● Walking aids
If the pain remains after exhausting non-invasive measures, doctors typically would conduct an x-ray of the affected joint. If the x-ray shows damage, your doctor may recommend a joint replacement surgery.
How is the surgery like? During joint replacement surgery:
● To make your experience painless, your doctor will give you medicine. It will either block pain in that one specific part of the body or put the whole body to sleep.
● The damaged joint is removed and replaced with a new, man-made joint. What the surgeons do is that they remove the worn cartilage from both sides of the joint and replace it with an artificial or man-made joint that looks and functions like a normal joint.
● Once the surgery is completed, you will be moved to a recovery room until your numbness goes away or you gain full consciousness.
What happens next? Those with replaced knee or hip are expected to stay in the hospital for a few days. Elderly patients or patients with other disabilities are likely to check into an intermediate care facility where they are expected to spend several weeks before going home. In short, it is your team of doctors and you who determine how long you need to stay in the hospital.
If you’ve had a knee or hip replacement surgery, don’t be surprised if you begin standing and walking right after your surgery. Initially, you’d require a walker or crutches. It is normal to feel pain in the new joint but it would be temporary. You feel pain because your muscles are weak for not being used. With the help of medicines, the pain eventually goes away with in few weeks or months.
To strengthen your muscles, your doctors would recommend physical therapy. Your physical therapy may begin as early as the day after your surgery. This will help in strengthening the muscles around the new joint.
Hip and knee replacement surgeries despite being one of the safest treatments in any area of medicine may cause the following complications:
● Nerve and blood vessel injury
● Wear on joint replacements
● Ball of the new joint comes out of its socket
● Loosening of the joint
● Blood clots
It is worth reminding here that complications have been drastically reduced to the minimum over the years and what remains could be treated.
Benefits of joint replacement surgery
There are many – today, a man-made hip or knee is expected to last for 20 years, if not more. For most patients, total joint replacement surgery can be a lifelong solution for arthritis of the knee or hip.
Joint replacement surgery: Summary
A joint replacement surgery is recommended to those with advanced end stage joint disease. Such a surgery is typically recommended by doctors after other non-surgical measures have been employed. The surgery is recommended to minimize pain and regain lost mobility. When done at the right time, a joint replacement surgery can be highly effective.
Over the years, joint replacement surgery in pakistan has improved tremendously in terms of employing surgical techniques and materials. This has made joint replacement surgery one of
the safest, most reliable and durable forms of surgery in any field of medicine. Therefore, if you are an arthritis patient, who experiences excruciating joint pains and loss of mobility, do not wait and make an appointment with your doctor today.