What is Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty is a procedure performed to restore the function of a joint. A joint may be restored by resurfacing the bones. An artificial joint (called prosthesis) can also be used.

Various kinds of arthritis may affect the joints. Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is a loss of the cartilage or cushion in a joint, and is the major common reason for arthroplasty.

Why might I need Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty may be done when medical treatments no longer effectively ease joint pain and disability. Some medical treatments for osteoarthritis that may be used prior to arthroplasty include:

• Anti-inflammatory medicines

• Pain medicines

• Limiting painful activities

• Assistive devices for walking (such as a cane)

• Physical therapy

• Cortisone injections into a knee joint

• Visco supplementation injections (to put in lubrication into the joint to make joint movement less painful)

• Weight loss (for obese people)

• Exercise and conditioning

People who have arthroplasty usually have substantial improvement in their joint pain, ability to do activities, and quality of life.

Mostly performed joint surgery involves the hip and knee, with surgery on the ankle, elbow, shoulder, and fingers being done less often.

There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend arthroplasty surgery. Please see hip replacement and knee replacement surgical processes for more specific information.

What are the risks of Arthroplasty?

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include:

• Bleeding

• Infection

• Blood clots in the legs or lungs

• Loosening of prosthetic parts

Nerves or blood vessels in the site of surgery may be injured. This leads in weakness or numbness. The joint pain may not be calmed by the surgery and/or complete function may not come back.

There may be other risks depending on your particular medical condition. Ensure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.

What happens during Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty generally requires a stay in a hospital. Procedures can vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.

Arthroplasty may be done while you are asleep under general anesthesia or while you are awake under local anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will talk about this with you in advance.

Generally, arthroplasty follows this process:

1. You will be asked to take off clothing and will be given a gown to wear.

2. An intravenous (IV) line may be started in your arm or hand.

3. You will be positioned on the operating table in a style that provides the best access to the joint being operated on.

4. A urinary catheter may be inserted.

5. If there is too much hair at the surgical site, it may be shaved off.

6. The anesthesiologist will continuously monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level at the course of the surgery.

7. The skin above the surgical site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.

8. The doctor will make an incision in the area of the joint.

9. The doctor will repair or remove the damaged parts of the joint.

10. The incision is closed with stitches or surgical staples.

11. A sterile bandage or dressing will then be applied.

What happens after Arthroplasty?

In the hospital

After the surgery you will be moved to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are active, you will be taken to your hospital room. Arthroplasty normally needs an in-hospital stay of several days.

It is vital to begin moving the new joint after surgery. A physical therapist will meet with you soon after your surgery and plan an exercise rehabilitation routine for you. Your pain will be controlled with medicine so that you can partake in the exercise program. You have an exercise plan to follow both in the hospital and after discharge.

You will be discharged to go home or to a rehabilitation center. In either case, your doctor will arrange for continuation of physical therapy until you regain muscle strength and excellent range of motion.

At home

Once you are home, it will be essential to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. The stitches or surgical staples will be taken out during a follow-up office visit.

Take a pain reliever for pain as recommended by your doctor. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the possibility of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.

Contact your doctor and report any of the following:

• Fever or chills

• Redness, swelling, bleeding or any other drainage from the incision site

• Increased pain around the incision site

• Numbness and/or tingling of the affected extremity

You may recommence your normal diet unless your doctor advises you differently.

You should not drive until your doctor tells you otherwise. Other activity restrictions may apply.

Making certain modifications to your home may help you during your recuperation. These modifications include:

• Proper handrails along all stairs

• Safety handrails in the shower or bath

• Shower bench or chair

• Raised toilet seat

• Stable chair with strong seat cushion and back with two arms. This will allow your knees to be positioned lower than your hips

• Long-handled sponge and shower hose

• Dressing stick

• Sock aid

• Long-handled shoe horn

• Reaching stick to grab objects

• Firm pillows to raise the hips above the knees when sitting

• Taking out loose carpets and electrical cords that may cause you to trip

Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your specific situation.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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