Modern joint replacement surgery involves removal of worn cartilage from both sides of the joint, followed by resurfacing of the joint with a metal and plastic replacement implant that looks and functions much like a normal joint. Although nearly every joint in the body can be replaced, most replacement surgeries involve the hip or knee. Joint replacement surgery is typically recommended for patients who have tried non-surgical treatment but still have joint pain. While this is an extremely effective surgical treatment, total joint replacement should be considered as the last (rather than the first) treatment option for patients with advanced arthritis of the hip, knee, or shoulder.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueOctober 2007
Also By This Author
The definition of who is appropriate for total joint replacement surgery changes continuously, according to fact-sheet author Matthew J. Kraay, MS, MD. In general, there is no set upper age limit for joint replacement candidates. Instead, the decision is perhaps best made based on a patient’s general medical condition, fitness for surgery, and how much arthritis affects the patient’s quality of life.
Dr. Kraay highlights three points patients should remember when considering joint surgery as a treatment option:
- Total joint replacement should be considered as a possible treatment option only after a reasonable attempt at non-operative management has been determined unsuccessful;
- Primary care physicians should be consulted before surgery to ensure a patient is healthy enough to tolerate the anesthesia and rehabilitation associated with surgery; and
- The specific limitations and activity restrictions that follow total joint replacement should be reviewed prior to treatment.
For the complete fact sheet on joint surgery, or for information about other ACR patient education materials visit, www.rheumatology.org/public/factsheets.