Should you consider joint replacement?
Sometimes the parts you were born with wear out before you do. Disease, injury or a lifetime of wear and tear can take a painful toll on your joints. For some people, the best solution may be joint replacement.
Thanks to advancements in medical technology, joint replacement surgery means people can maintain an active lifestyle for many years to come. In fact, today’s artificial joints can last 20 years or more.
You’ve tried everything
Of course, not everyone with a painful joint needs joint replacement. Sometimes, a lubricating substance injected into a joint can relieve the pain. Other times, the cartilage in a damaged joint can be surgically repaired or restored. Surgeons can even realign bones in the leg so that weight is shifted to a stronger portion of the joint.
Most people who opt for replacement surgery have a joint that cannot otherwise be repaired or arthritis pain that no longer responds to medications, physical therapy or other treatments, says Aaron G. Rosenberg, MD, director of the adult orthopedic reconstruction section at Rush University Medical Center.
Talk to your doctor about joint replacement if any of the following apply to you:
- Arthritis pain interferes with your work or keeps you up at night.
- Arthritis prevents you from doing things you enjoy.
- You have trouble with daily activities, such as getting out of a chair, going up stairs or using the toilet.
Years ago joint replacement was considered appropriate only for older people, Rosenberg says. But as doctors refined the procedures and researchers improved artificial joint designs, the operation became practical for younger patients.
“Now we routinely do joint replacement in patients who are in their 50s,” he says. “Many people are significantly handicapped by joint pain and are no longer able to participate in the activities they have always enjoyed, but they don’t have to accept that.”
Top-notch care, close to home
If you need a joint replacement, look no further than Rush, where the orthopedic department is No. 1 in Illinois and ranked among the very best in the country by U.S.News & World Report. Surgeons at Rush perform approximately 2,000 joint replacements each year. By comparison, most hospitals do fewer than 400 such cases per year, according to Rosenberg.
“Our surgeons have a tremendous amount of experience,” he says. “Complicated cases from all over the country are sent to us for treatment.”
Over the past 25 years, researchers at Rush have helped create state-of-the-art joint implants and studied how different prosthetic designs improve joint function.
Rush is one of the few places in the country that offers minimally invasive total hip and knee replacements that can be performed on an outpatient basis. These procedures can lead to fewer complications and a speedier recovery.
“Overall, joint replacement is a much easier operation — a much safer operation — than it was even five years ago,” says Rosenberg. “And our patients are reaping the benefits of our research and expertise.”
Are you interested in more information about joint replacement?
Visit the Joint Replacement Surgery home page.