JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY
The bone surfaces in joints are covered by articular cartilage. Arthritis is a condition where this articular cartilage is significantly damaged or gone. This can be due to trauma, inflammation, or simple wear and tear. Frequently spurring develops and painful grinding. After trying conservative measure including medications, injections and possibly bracing, joint replacement surgery may be needed. In this surgery, the tendons and ligaments are moved aside to allow exposure to the joint. Saw cuts are made to remove the damaged cartilage/bone and the surfaces are replaced with metal and plastic which may be cemented into place. The new artificial surface is smooth and without nerve endings, thereby removing pain. The entire joint surfaces can be replaced, as in a total joint replacement, or part of the joint replaced, as in a uni-compartmental knee arthroplasty or shoulder hemiarthroplasty. These surgeries are performed in the hospital or surgery center and may require a several day hospital stay.
JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY RECOVERY
Given the complexity of the joints, recovery from surgery is dependent on the procedure performed. Local anesthetic blocks, pain medications, ice and immobilization are among the numerous tools used for post-operative pain control. Although our goal is to regain mobility and strength in the long term, initial post-operative use of ambulatory aids or slings may be needed. Typically, physical therapy is started the day of, or day following surgery. The use of motion machines, physical therapy modalities, and ambulatory aids are determined based on the surgery and each patient’s individual needs. Sometimes, additional inpatient therapy is required and patients are transferred to a rehabilitation unit. Due to Medicare requirements, this typically is on the 3rd day of hospitalization. Home physical therapy with rapid conversion to an outpatient physical therapy program for several months is the cornerstone of post-operative recovery. Dr. Heinen will guide your individual post-operative needs.