A joint is where the ends of two or more bones meet. For example, a bone of the lower leg, called the shin or tibia and the thighbone, called the femur, meet to form the knee joint or hinge joint. Likewise, the hip is a ball and socket joint. It is formed by the upper end of the thighbone-the ball at the end of the femur, fitting into the socket-part of the pelvis called the acetabulum. Other joints in the musculoskeletal system are at the shoulder, ankle, elbow, and wrists. The ends of the bones are covered in cartilage, which help to cushion and enable smooth, easy movement. When the cartilage wears away either due to injury or because it is diseased, the bones become rough and grind against each other, causing disability and pain.
Several types of conditions can cause joint pain or cause disability, consequently requiring a patient to consider joint replacement surgery. A joint replacement surgery would be suggested when non-surgical treatments like medications, physiotherapy and changes to a patient’s daily activities fail to provide any relief from pain and disability. Anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to treat a patient non-surgically, along with physiotherapy and individually designed exercises that can be performed at home.
When a patient is referred for a joint replacement program, the Orthopaedic Surgeon will suggest treatments based on the findings and diagnosis, taking into consideration the age, activity levels and medical history of the patient. The evaluations will be based on radiological, medical, physical and historical records of the patient. Both non-surgical and surgical options will be considered and discussed by the orthopaedic surgeon, as a part of counselling and educating the patient.
Total joint replacement is considered when non-surgical efforts fail to provide any modicum of relief from pain. Joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which arthritic or damaged joints parts are removed and replaced with plastic, metal or ceramic prosthesis or devices which are designed to duplicate movement of the joint, as closely as the original joint.
Once you have chosen to have your joint replaced, the orthopaedic surgeon will schedule the surgical procedure. The surgical team will administer anaesthesia, which could be either spinal or general. Once the anaesthesia takes effect, the surgical team will replace the damaged joint with a prosthesis.