Joint Replacement Archive

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6 signs that it may be time to have a joint replaced

An ailing knee or a hip can make life miserable. Even if your doctor recommends it be replaced, you need to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before agreeing to this major surgery and understand that it will require significant rehabilitation to get back on your feet.

The most important factor in choosing to have a knee or hip replaced is how much it hurts and how much it is affecting your life. Here are six signals that it's time to have a knee or hip replaced:

When is it time for a knee replacement?

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Q. I have osteoarthritis. My right knee is especially painful and stiff. How do I know when the time is right for knee replacement surgery?

A. Timing is key. If you get the procedure too soon, you might not see enough improvement to make the surgery worth it. In addition, the younger you are when you have knee replacement surgery, the greater the chances it will not last and another surgery may be needed. But if you wait too long, you may subject yourself to unnecessary pain and disability.

Helpful or harmful? Weighing last resorts before knee surgery

You've tried nearly everything for your worn-out knee. But the remaining possibilities may include some risky options.

Knee osteoarthritis affects about half of us in older age. The cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones wears away, and it hurts when the bones grind against each other. In many people, arthritis can become severe enough that they consider a knee replacement. Since surgery is an expensive and complicated option, you may wonder what else you can do to reduce knee pain. Beware: some treatments are bogus and even dangerous.

Stay away from these

The first sign that a knee pain treatment isn't the best choice: an ad promising that it's the surefire solution.

Why weight matters when it comes to joint pain

If you're having the occasional twinge of joint pain when you go for a walk or climb stairs, or you're worried about arthritis because a parent had it, one step toward prevention is to check your weight.

There are two ways that being overweight raises your risk for developing osteoarthritis (the most common joint disorder, which is due to wear and tear on a joint). First, excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints (the knee, for example). Second, inflammatory factors associated with weight gain might contribute to trouble in other joints (for example, the hands).

4 ways to keep moving with joint pain

If you suffer from joint pain, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do, or need to do. But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or sidestep surgery.

While exercise is great medicine, it only works if you carve out time to do it regularly. And sometimes the hardest part of a workout is getting started. Here are four ways to help you get your dose of physical activity:

4 types of knee implants

Thinking about a total knee replacement? There are a few different kinds of knee implants that are used in this procedure. The different types are categorized by the materials that rub against each other when you flex your knee:

Metal on plastic. This is the most common type of implant. It features a metal femoral component that rides on a polyethylene plastic spacer attached to the tibial component. The metals commonly used include cobalt-chromium, titanium, zirconium, and nickel. Metal-on-plastic is the least expensive type of implant and has the longest track record for safety and implant life span. However, one problem that can happen with plastic implants is an immune reaction triggered by tiny particles that wear away from the spacer. This can cause bone to break down, leading to loosening and failure of the implant. Advances in manufacturing have greatly reduced the rate of wear in the plastic.

Surgery-free pain relief for hips and knees

Hip and knee pain can keep you from the activities you love, as well as make routine tasks difficult. But there are many ways to get you moving again pain-free, without surgery. Here are some of the treatments that can help relieve hip and knee pain.

Ultrasound, phonophoresis, and iontophoresis

Therapeutic ultrasound is a simple procedure that uses sound waves to increase blood flow, relax muscle spasms, and aid healing that leads to faster hip pain relief and knee pain relief. The therapist applies gel to your skin and moves an ultrasound wand over your skin around the painful area. In a special ultrasound technique called phonophoresis, medication (often hydrocortisone) is added to the gel. In a survey of orthopedic physical therapists, more than half said they would use ultrasound and phonophoresis to reduce soft-tissue inflammation (in tendinitis or bursitis, for example). These techniques are also used to manage pain, heal tissue, and help muscles stretch.

4 ways to put off joint replacement

A desire to stay active and a natural aversion to pain send nearly 800,000 Americans to orthopedic surgeons each year for a hip or knee replacement. And we're seeking these operations much earlier in life. According to Dr. Scott Martin, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, this isn't a healthy trend. "A lot of joint replacements are being done because they can be," says Dr. Martin.

Every surgical procedure carries the risk of complications — or even death. Because the average joint that's replaced only lasts 10 to 15 years, having the procedure done at age 50 instead of 70 means there's a good chance you'll need a second procedure when you're older and at higher risk for complications.

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