Joint replacement surgeries are widely been practiced nowadays. Thousands of joint replacement surgeries are done annually with a very high success rate. The technology for joint replacement has advanced to a level that any joint can be replaced with an artificial joint. The results of the joint replacement surgeries are encouraging.
There are many indications for joint replacement. Out of these, osteoarthritis is the most common indication for joint replacement. In osteoarthritis, the articular surfaces of a joint wear off with increasing movements. Usually, everybody’s joints wares off with increasing movements, but they are rapidly repaired. In osteoarthritis, the rate of bone destruction is more and the repair mechanism is slower. As a result, there is periarticular osteophyte formation, sclerosis, osteoporosis and bone destruction. These changes reduce the joint’s functional capacity significantly. If you move the joint while feeling the surface from your hand, you will feel crepitations. Such joint is extremely painful. The replaced joint can withstand the friction better than the natural bones, so there will be no bone loss and no pain.
Every joint with osteoporosis is not replaced. Joint replacement is the surgical management of osteoporosis. It is offered to you only when all the medical management options are unsuccessful. There are several indications for joint replacement. Failure to manage medically is one such indication. The medical management of osteoporosis is NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) therapy. These drugs are tried for about 6 months and joint replacement is considered if the disease does not improve within that time period.
Severe arthritis or osteoarthritis of the joint is the next indication for joint replacement. Some patients come to see a doctor only after suffering for a long time without any proper treatment. The joints of such people can have severe osteoarthritis which cannot be managed medically. The articular surfaces of the joint can be very thin. In such cases, joint replacement is the only hope.
Severe pain causing functional deterioration is another indication for joint replacement. Sometimes the joint can ache severely. The severe pain can interfere with the day to day activities significantly. In such situations, a better functional outcome can be achieved from joint replacement.
Sometimes, joint replacement is the treatment of choice for some fractures, for example hip joint fractures. It can also be the only hope for some bone tumors. Above mentioned are the commonest indications for joint replacement. Your doctor will weigh the risks and the outcomes carefully and provide you the information required to take the correct decision.