What Is Osteoarthritis?

Joints help with movement, flexibility, and bearing weight. Over time, these joints become susceptible to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the gradual wear and tear of the cartilage and bone that support and protect these joints. When the cartilage wears away due to decades of movement, the body attempts to repair the damage. Often, the result is bone spurs, inflammation, and thinning cartilage. The result is pain, stiffness, and instability, particularly on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.

Treating osteoarthritis

For patients with osteoarthritis, the goal is to manage the symptoms as much as possible. The pain and discomfort often come from weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips, and ankles. Doctors will recommend pain medication, corticosteroids, and physical therapy. Over time, these options are very effective. Staying active through aerobic exercise can also ease arthritis. However, a doctor may recommend a total joint replacement for chronic conditions.

When should you try TJR?

A total joint replacement (TJR) is a surgical procedure that helps with the symptoms of severe arthritis. An orthopedic surgeon first removes the damaged cartilage and bone. From there, a metal, ceramic, or plastic replacement is installed. People with significant cartilage and bone damage may benefit from TJR regardless of age. Others with chronic pain that does not respond to treatment are also candidates for surgery.

What to expect during surgery

Most orthopedic surgeons use minimally invasive surgery to perform surgery. The procedure starts with 1-2 incisions the size of buttonholes. An arthroscope is a surgical device that projects the damaged joint on a screen. Additional surgical tools help the surgeon to remove the damaged bone. From there, the prepared prosthetic is installed. Minimally invasive surgery has several advantages, including faster surgery, less pain, and faster recovery. Along with physical therapy, patients should fully recover within 3 months.

Would it help your arthritis?

With a 95% success rate, total joint replacement is effective for chronic osteoarthritis. Joint replacements can last 10 years or more with healthy lifestyle changes. From the initial signs of osteoarthritis, try non-surgical treatment first. If these fail, total joint replacement is an effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life.