Joint replacement surgery is removing a damaged joint and putting in a new one. A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, and shoulder. The surgery is usually done by a doctor called an orthopedic surgeon. Sometimes, the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts.
Candidates for joint replacement surgery often have severe joint pain, stiffness, limping, muscle weakness, limitation of motion, and swelling. Depending on the joint affected and the amount of damage, ordinary activities such as walking, putting on socks and shoes, getting into and out of cars, and climbing stairs may become difficult.
The most common causes of joint dysfunction are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While nobody is certain what causes arthritis, a number of factors may contribute to joint deterioration and lead to arthritis.
Joint replacement surgery is designed to replace the damaged cartilage and any associated loss of bone structure. The procedure itself is a resurfacing of the damaged joint, and relies on the patient's muscles and ligaments for support and function. The prosthesis (replacement joint) is made of titanium, cobalt chrome, stainless steel, ceramic material, and polyethylene (plastic). It can be affixed to the bone with acrylic cement or it can be press-fit, which allows bone to grow into the implant. Once the joint replacement is in place, its motion and function are restored through physical therapy. The three most common joint replacement surgeries are hip, knee, and shoulder.
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