Pain in your joints can affect every move you make—from walking and going up and down stairs to just sitting. If your symptoms are affecting the way you live and conservative treatments or medications no longer relieve pain, a doctor may suggest a joint replacement to improve your quality of life. Knees and hips are the joints most commonly replaced and that replacement can relieve pain and help you to move better.
When is the Right Time?
When you’ve exhausted the treatment options below, it is time to consider replacement of your joint.
- If medications like Tylenol or NSAIDs, whether over the counter or stronger prescription versions, no longer work.
- If creams and ointments that are rubbed into the skin no longer relieve pain.
- If medication injected into the joint, like corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid that fight inflammation, aren’t satisfactory anymore.
- If severe pain limits your everyday activities.
- If you have moderate to severe pain even when you’re resting or lying down.
- If you have chronic inflammation or swelling that doesn’t improve with rest or medications.
The Scoop on Surgery
Surgery of the knee or hip joints involves removing all or part of the joint and replacing the damaged parts with an artificial joint made of metal or plastic. It may take a few months to fully recover, but the replacement offers pain relief and mobility that can last for years, if not a lifetime.
There are many advancements that have been made in joint replacement surgery recently—including state-of-the-art methods for pain relief. Pain blocks are directed where they are needed while the rest of the body is unimpaired by side-effects. This pinpoint accuracy lets you begin the recovery process more quickly and with less pain.
The latest advancements in treatment also include minimally invasive surgery. A similar procedure to traditional joint replacement surgery, minimally invasive procedures involve less cutting of the tissue surrounding the knee. Specially designed surgical instruments are used to prepare the surrounding bone so that the implant fits properly. This can now be done through a smaller incision of 4-6 inches instead of 8-10. The smaller incision means less tissue disturbance and disruption to the muscle. This, in turn, leads to less post-operative pain, a faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay.
If it’s time to explore a joint replacement, get connected with an SSM Health orthopedic surgeon by calling toll-free 1-844-SSM-WELL (776-9355) for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon with SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Jefferson City.