Joint Replacement Surgery: What You Need To Know
The health of our joints changes over time. Whether through overuse, arthritis, or general wear as you age, the knees and hips that once allowed you to walk up stairs or bend over may be causing you pain. Though there are many medications available to treat the symptoms of pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, joint replacement surgery is a popular option for those looking for a longer-term solution.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the most common joints being replaced today are the knees and hips, with about 773,000 Americans receiving the operations each year. The replacement is done on damaged joints (as determined by a doctor) where bone is rubbing against bone, causing severe discomfort.
A replacement joint, called a prosthesis, can be made of plastic, metal, or both, and is usually cemented in to keep it in place. However, the NIAMS states that an uncemented joint is often recommended for younger, more active people and those with good bone quality. Following surgery, physical therapy is used to get your body accustomed to the prosthesis as you heal. Exercise is important to keep the joint mobile. New joints generally last at least 10 to 15 years.