What is arthroplasty?
A surgical procedure called arthroplasty can be used to get a joint working again. Resurfacing the bones can rehabilitate a joint. It is also possible to use a prosthetic joint, or an artificial joint.
The joints may be impacted by different types of arthritis. The most prevalent reason for arthroplasty is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, which is characterized by a loss of cartilage or cushion in a joint.
Why might I need arthroplasty?
When medical treatments are no longer able to address joint pain and impairment, arthroplasty may be employed. Before having an arthroplasty, patients with osteoarthritis may try some of the following medical treatments:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Pain medicines
- Limiting painful activities
- Assistive devices for walking (such as a cane)
- Physical therapy
- Cortisone injections into a knee joint
- Visco supplementation injections (to add lubrication into the joint to make joint movement less painful)
- Weight loss (for obese people)
- Exercise and conditioning
Arthroplasty patients typically have a significant increase in their quality of life, activity level, and joint pain.
Ankle, elbow, shoulder, and finger surgeries are performed less frequently than hip and knee surgeries.
Your doctor’s recommendation for arthroplasty could also be based on other factors. For more details, please refer to the surgical procedures for hip and knee replacement.
What are the risks of arthroplasty?
As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include:
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
- Loosening of prosthetic parts
In the surgical area, blood vessels or nerves may sustain damage. As a result, you can feel weak or numb. Surgery may not be able to completely restore function or reduce joint pain.
Depending on your particular medical condition, there can be additional dangers. Before the treatment, make sure to share any worries you may have with your healthcare professional.
How do I prepare for arthroplasty?
- Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you and offer you the chance to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
- In addition to complete medical history, your healthcare provider may perform a complete physical exam to ensure you are in good health before undergoing the procedure. You may undergo blood tests or other diagnostic tests.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any medicines, latex, tape, and anesthetic agents (local and general).
- Tell your healthcare provider of all medicines (prescribed and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medicines, aspirin, or other medicines that affect blood clotting. It may be necessary for you to stop these medicines before the procedure.
- If you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, you should notify your healthcare provider.
- You will be asked to fast for 8 hours before the procedure, generally after midnight.
- You may receive a sedative before the procedure to help you relax.
- You may meet with a physical therapist before your surgery to discuss rehabilitation.
- Arrange for someone to help around the house for a week or two after you are discharged from the hospital.
- Based on your medical condition, your healthcare provider may request other specific preparation.
What happens during arthroplasty?
A hospital stay is typically necessary after an arthroplasty. Depending on your situation and the methods used by your healthcare professional, procedures could change.
You can have arthroplasty while you’re unconscious under general anesthesia or while you’re awake under local anesthetic. In advance, your anesthesiologist will go over this with you.
- A typical arthroplasty procedure goes like this:
- You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear.
- An intravenous (IV) line may be started in your arm or hand.
- You will be positioned on the operating table in a manner that provides the best access to the joint being operated on.
- A urinary catheter may be inserted.
- If there is excessive hair at the surgical site, it may be shaved off.
- The anesthesiologist will continuously monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.
- The skin over the surgical site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
- The healthcare provider will make an incision in the area of the joint.
- The healthcare provider will repair or remove the damaged parts of the joint.
- The incision will be closed with stitches or surgical staples.
- A sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.
What happens after arthroplasty?
In the hospital
You will be brought to the recovery area for observation following the procedure. You will be brought to your hospital room as soon as your breathing, blood pressure, and pulse have stabilized
and you are awake. Having an arthroplasty typically requires a few days in the hospital.
After surgery, it’s crucial to start using the new joint. Soon after your surgery, a physical therapist will visit with you to discuss your exercise rehabilitation needs. You will be given medication to manage your discomfort so you may engage in the workout regimen. You’ll be given an exercise schedule to stick to while you’re in the hospital and after you’re released.
You’ll either be sent home or to a treatment facility after being released. In either scenario, your healthcare professional will make arrangements for you to continue physical therapy until you have recovered your range of motion and muscular strength.
It will be crucial to keep the surgery area clean and dry after you get home. You will receive special bathing instructions from your healthcare practitioner. The surgical staples or stitches will be taken out during a subsequent appointment visit.
Follow your doctor’s advice and take a painkiller if you are in pain. Aspirin and a few other painkillers may make bleeding more likely. Make sure to only take prescribed medications.
Notify your healthcare provider to report any of the following:
- Fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, bleeding, or another drainage from the incision site
- Increased pain around the incision site
- Numbness and/or tingling of the affected extremity
Unless your doctor advises you otherwise, you can resume your regular diet.
Until your healthcare practitioner instructs you to, you should not drive. There can be further activity limitations.
You might benefit from making some house improvements as you recover. The following are some of these changes:
- Proper handrails along all stairs
- Safety handrails in the shower or bath
- Shower bench or chair
- Raised toilet seat
- Stable chair with firm seat cushion and firm back with two arms. This will allow your knees to be positioned lower than your hips
- Long-handled sponge and shower hose
- Dressing stick
- Sock aid
- Long-handled shoe horn
- Reaching stick to grab objects
- Firm pillows to raise the hips above the knees when sitting
- Removing loose carpets and electrical cords that may cause you to trip
Depending on your unique circumstances, your healthcare professional may provide you with an alternative or extra instructions after the surgery.