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Joint Replacement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What Are Some Symptoms of Joint Problems?

Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the joint area, especially pain that keeps you awake at night.
  • Loss of joint function or movement.
  • Swelling around the joint.

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Who is a Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?

You may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery if you have:

  • Ongoing (chronic) joint pain.
  • Loss of function in a joint.
  • A traumatic joint injury.
  • Certain bone defects or bone cancer.

Usually, the ideal candidate is older.

Younger, more active people may put extra stress on artificial joints. This has historically caused them to wear out earlier than expected. The good news for younger patients is that the more modern bearing surfaces appear to be wearing out far less.

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What Conditions Can You Treat with Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is helpful for treating many joint conditions, including:

  • Osteonecrosis — bone death due to a lack of blood supply.
  • Osteoarthritis — a condition that causes the cartilage to break down.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis — an autoimmune disease that attacks cartilage in the joints.
  • Injuries due to trauma — fractures or injuries that damage the joint beyond repair.
  • Bone cancer — certain bone cancers and some benign tumors that invade the joint bone.

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Are There Any Alternatives to Joint Replacement Surgery?

Doctors usually try other measures before resorting to partial or total joint replacement surgery.

Treatments to delay or avoid joint replacement may include:

  • Physical therapy.
  • Injections.
  • Medications that decrease inflammation and swelling.
  • Bracing.
  • Arthroscopic surgery — performing surgery using a tiny camera or arthroscope. This helps patients whose arthritis is complicated by torn cartilage or large loose pieces of bone.
  • Core decompression — drilling a hole into the bone to relieve bone pressure in patients with bone necrosis.
  • Osteotomy — making a cut in the bone to shift the weight on the joint.

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Why Wouldn’t My Doctor Choose to Perform Joint Replacement Surgery?

Many doctors choose not to perform joint replacement surgery if you haven't tried a more conservative treatment or if the pain is not severe enough to justify the risk of surgery.

Even if the surgery would benefit you, there are reasons why you may not be a good candidate.

These include:

  • History of active infection, which can spread to the replaced joint.
  • Morbid obesity (body mass index greater than 50).
  • Severe mental dysfunction.
  • Unhealthy skin around the joint.
  • Certain types of neurologic disorders.
  • Medical problems making the surgery and anesthesia not safe.
  • Loss of adequate bone to successfully complete the procedure.

Restrictions may also depend on what joint you’re replacing.

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Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic experts or to ask a question about joint replacement services, complete a form online or call 1-866-987-ORTHO (6784).

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