Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Should You Have Joint Replacement Surgery ?

Your doctor will help guide you through the process but it is helpful to consider your answers to the following questions as you make your decision:

  • Can you live with your current level of pain?
    • Are you having more bad days than good days?
      • Does pain interrupt your sleep? Do you have side effects from pain medications that you’d like to avoid?
  • Is your pain and stiffness getting worse?
    • Do you feel pain even when at rest? Has it gotten harder to move around, get in and out of the car or climb stairs?  On a pain scale of one to ten, do you constantly experience pain at six or above?
  • Do you find that you have given up activities that you previously enjoyed?
    • Have you stopped going out for social occasions because of your pain? Are you now driving places when you used to walk?
  • Have you explored non-surgical treatments?
    • What about physical therapy?  Or aqua therapy?  Have you lost weight? Are pain medications not as effective as they once were?
  • Has your doctor suggested that a joint replacement will improve your symptoms?
    • Your doctor will discuss the improvement you should expect from joint replacement surgery.
  • Are you healthy enough for surgery?
    • Your doctor will review your overall health status with you as this will play an important role in your healing and recovery.
  • Can you commit to weeks of post-surgery rehabilitation?
    • Recovery requires many weeks of post-surgery rehabilitation to regain muscle strength, range of motion and flexibility.
  • Can you take the time off for surgery?
    • Recovery can take up to six weeks or longer. You will likely be home-bound for the first phase of recovery.
       

Common Surgical Options

Talk to your doctor about the various options that are available. Below is a simple description of some of these options to help familiarize yourself with the terminology. 

Arthroscopy

By inserting instruments into the joint through small punctures, arthroscopy can remove or repair damaged tissue. This can reduce or even eliminate pain and swelling from the joint and can even prevent future damage to the knee.

Partial Joint Replacements

If osteoarthritis develops in only one compartment of your knee and the others are left in relatively good condition, you may be a candidate for a partial replacement. This procedure resurfaces only the damaged cartilage, while preserving the remaining bone. To determine if this is the appropriate option for you, consult your surgeon.

Total Joint Replacement 

Total joint replacement is the replacement of damaged bone and articulating cartilage found at the ends of the bones in your joint, and not in the entire joint as commonly thought. If you have significant degeneration of your joint’s articulating surface due to arthritis or other condition, your surgeon might recommend a total hip or knee replacement.

Replacement implants are made from metal alloy and advanced polyethylene (plastic). A typical hospital stay is normally three to four days, with rehabilitation and walking starting the day after surgery, and then physical therapy, which will continue for approximately six to 12 weeks after you leave the hospital.

Total joint replacement surgery has been proven successful at relieving discomfort so you can resume your normal activities.

Rebuilding Cartilage

In some cases, a hole may develop in the joint cartilage on the end of your bone. There are various methods available for correcting this problem, used mostly on younger patients with moderate or isolated injury to the cartilage.

Microfracture Arthroplasty

In order to promote cartilage growth, microfracture arthroplasty uses an arthroscope, a thin viewing instrument, to drill small holes into your exposed bone. This procedure is used only on small areas of damage.

Direct Cartilage Transplantation

This procedure involves the implantation of healthy cartilage into an area of damaged cartilage and is not typically recommended for significant arthritis.

Growing Cartilage

Cartilage cells can be harvested during an arthroscopic procedure, grown in a laboratory for future transplantation and implanted into a damaged area.

 


Additional Resources

To read more about how to manage your arthritis, please consult one of the Internet-based resources below.

The Arthritis Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

 

Arthritis Treatment Options