What are joint replacements?
Joint replacements are a common surgical procedure used to alleviate pain and improve mobility in people who suffer from joint conditions such as arthritis or severe joint injuries. Joint replacements can be performed on a variety of joints in the body, including the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and ankle. They can also on occasion be performed on small joints such as thumbs. The 2 most common joint replacements are a Total Hip Replacement or a Total Knee Replacement.
What happens during the procedure?
Joint replacement surgeries can either be done under general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep during the operation) or under a spinal anaesthetic (where you’re awake but have no feeling from the waist down).
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove the damaged joint and replace with an artificial joint made of metal, plastic, or ceramic components called a prosthesis. This prosthesis is designed to replicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint.
Who needs a joint replacement?
The most common reason for a joint replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Adults of any age can be considered for a joint replacement, although most are done on people between the ages of 60 and 80 years old. They are also typically recommended when non-surgical treatments, such as medication, steroid injections or Ostenil injections and physiotherapy, have failed to provide relief. You may also need a joint replacement surgery if:
- you have severe pain, swelling and stiffness at the affected joint.
- your mobility is reduced.
- you have a reduced quality of life and poor sleep from the pain.
- everyday tasks, such as shopping or walking are difficult or impossible.
- you’re feeling depressed because of the pain.
- you are unable to work or have limited social life because of the pain.
Recovery time can vary depending on the type of joint replacement and the individual’s overall health, but most people are able to return to normal activities within a few months following surgery. With appropriate care, joint replacements can provide significant pain relief and many patients are able to resume their normal activities to enjoy a better quality of life. A modern artificial joint is designed to last for at least 15 years.
While joint replacement surgery is generally safe and effective, it does carry some risks, such as:
- nerve damage
- blood clots
- DVT (deep vein thrombosis)
- a fracture in the bone surrounding the joint during or after the surgery.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help in a multitude of ways. After a joint replacement surgery, Physiotherapists can provide pain relief, improve your function, and help you get back to your daily activities. Regular exercise and physical therapy are important for maintaining the strength and flexibility of the replaced joint. Physiotherapists can provide advice on exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications to help you stay healthy and prevent future injuries.
If you have recently had a joint replacement surgery or are planning to have one done soon, get in touch to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, who will be able to carry out a thorough assessment and guide you through a management plan.
Contact us today