Arthroplasty is a surgical procedure to restore the function of a joint. A joint can be restored by resurfacing the bones. An artificial joint (called a prosthesis) may also be used.
Various types 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 most common reason for arthroplasty.
Arthroplasty may be used when medical treatments no longer effectively relieve joint pain and disability. Some medical treatments for osteoarthritis that may be used before arthroplasty include:
People who have arthroplasty generally have substantial improvement in their joint pain, ability to perform activities, and quality of life.
Most 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 healthcare provider to recommend arthroplasty. Please see hip replacement and knee replacement surgical procedures for more specific information.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include:
Nerves or blood vessels in the area of surgery may be injured. This results in weakness or numbness. The joint pain may not be relieved by the surgery and/or complete function may not return.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Arthroplasty usually requires a stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Arthroplasty may be done while you are asleep under general anesthesia, or while you are awake under localized anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will discuss this with you in advance.
Generally, arthroplasty follows this process:
After the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room. Arthroplasty usually needs an in-hospital stay of several days.
It is important to begin moving the new joint after surgery. A physical therapist will meet with you soon after your surgery and plan an exercise rehabilitation program for you. Your pain will be controlled with medicine so that you can participate in the exercise program. You will be given an exercise plan to follow both in the hospital and after discharge.
You will be discharged home or to a rehabilitation center. In either case, your healthcare provider will arrange for continuation of physical therapy until you regain muscle strength and good range of motion.
Once you are home, it will be important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. The stitches or surgical staples will be removed during a follow-up office visit.
Take a pain reliever for pain as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Notify your healthcare provider to report any of the following:
You may resume your normal diet unless your healthcare provider advises you differently.
You should not drive until your healthcare provider tells you to. Other activity restrictions may apply.
Making certain modifications to your home may help you during your recovery. These modifications include the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.