Total Joint Replacement Surgery

What is total joint replacement?

During joint replacement surgery, an arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis.

What is a joint?

A joint is formed by the ends when two or more bones are connected by thick tissues. The knee joint is formed by the lower leg bone (tibia and fibula) and the thighbone (femur) and they are connected by thick tissues.  Hips are comprised of ball and socket joints, formed by the upper end of the femur (the ball), and the ‘socket’ called the acetabulum which is part of the pelvis.

The bone ends of a joint are covered with a smooth cartilage. Normal cartilage allows almost frictionless and movement free of pain. When cartilage becomes diseased or damaged by arthritis, joints can become painful and stiff. Joints are enclosed by fibrous tissue wrap or capsule with a smooth lining, called the synovium. The synovium produces the fluid that reduces friction and wear in a joint.

When is total joint replacement necessary?

The goal of total joint replacement is to relieve the pain in the joint caused by the damaged cartilage. The pain may become so severe, that a person will resist using the joint, which weakens the muscles around the joint and makes it even more difficult to put weight on the joint or move the joint. A physical examination,  X-rays, and possibly MRI’s will show the extent of the joint damage.  Your physician at All American Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute will consider a total joint replacement if other conservative treatment options do not relieve the pain..

What happens when I need a total joint replacement ?

You will be given an anesthetic in a surgical facility and your surgeon will replace the damaged parts of the joint. In Total Knee Replacement the damaged ends of the bones and cartilage are replaced with metal and plastic surfaces that restore knee movement and function.

In A Total Hip Replacement, for example, the upper end of the femur (which is the ball) is replaced by a metal ball attached to a metal stem fitted into the femur and a plastic socket is implanted into the pelvis which replaces the damaged hip socket.

Total Hip and Knee Replacements and Total Shoulder and Elbow Replacements are performed by orthopedic specialists Kenneth First MD and Marston Shaun Holt MD with All American Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute. Drs First and Holt are available for consultation to help you with your joint problems.

What happens during the recovery process?

Our surgeons will encourage you to use your “new” joint shortly after your operation. After total hip or knee replacement, you will often stand and begin walking the day after surgery. Initially, you may walk with the assistance of crutches or a cane.

Most patients have some temporary pain in the replaced joint because the surrounding muscles are weak from inactivity and the tissues are healing. This will end in a few weeks or months.

Exercise is an important part of the recovery process. Our surgeon or the staff will discuss an exercise program or physical therapy for you after surgery. This varies for differing needs of each patient.

How do you prepare for total joint replacement?

Before surgery, we recommend that you:

  • Donate some of your own blood so that you may receive it during or after surgery if needed
  • Stop taking some drugs before surgery such as any containing aspirin
  • Gentle exercises as recommended by your physician to speed your recovery after surgery
  • Evaluate your need for discharge planning,  rehabilitation, and home therapy after surgery
  • Let your provider know about any allergies, medication taken, use of steroids, privious problems with anesthesia, and/or any family history of problems with anesthesia.

When to call your doctor after surgery

  • If you develop swelling of your calf or leg
  • You have increasing pain or redness or swelling
  • you notice fluid such as pus coming from the would
  • You have an oral temperature of 102 degrees or more not controlled by medicine
  • You notice an opening in the wound
  • You experience shortness of breath or develop chest pain
  • If you have any concerns

Are Total Joint Replacements permanent?

Total Joint Replacements may last a decade or more and can give years of pain-free living that would not have otherwise been possible.

It is possible that younger Total Joint Replacement patients may eventually need another replacement but it is comforting to know that medical engineering is continually working on new and improved replacement components.