What is total joint replacement?
When a joint has worn to the point that it no longer does its job, an artificial joint (called a prosthesis) made of metal, ceramics, and plastic can take its place. The surgery to implant the prosthesis is termed a total joint replacement, which recreates the normal function of the joint. Total joint replacement is most frequently performed in the hip and knee, but the shoulder joint can also undergo wear and require replacement.
Why do hips and knees need replacement?
The hip joint is a “ball and socket” in which the upper end of the thighbone rotates inside a rounded area of the pelvis; the knee is a “hinge” that joins the shin to the thigh. Both joints are lined with cartilage, a layer of smooth, tough tissue that cushions the bones where they touch each other. With age and stress, the cartilage wears away, and the bones rub against each other, causing friction, swelling, stiffness, pain, and sometimes deformity. When this occurs, hip or knee replacement can relieve pain and restore mobility and quality of life.
What causes arthritis?
Approximately 43 million Americans suffer from arthritis. Usually, the cause is heredity. If your parents had arthritis, your chances of suffering from it are increased. Other causes include trauma or illness; for example, rheumatism, lupus, and psoriasis cause the body to secrete enzymes that soften cartilage, making joints more vulnerable to wear. Severe arthritis can limit mobility and seriously impact quality of life. While medications can sometimes reduce pain and inflammation, many patients require joint replacement to regain their quality of life.
Is joint replacement surgery safe?
Joint replacement is a safe and common procedure. Annually, nearly 150,000 people have hips replaced and nearly 250,000 have knees replaced. As with any surgical procedure, certain risks are involved. The staff at Gustafson Orthopaedics will review these risks with you, as well as explain how the Institute’s unique postsurgical program can reduce risk and aid in more rapid recovery.
Will I be able to play golf after joint replacement?
Very likely—yes. Jack Nicklaus competed in the Masters after a hip replacement. Like Mr. Nicklaus, you’ll have to make some adjustments to your game after surgery. You’ll need to start slowly by chipping and putting, then graduate to a 9-hole course using a cart. Eventually, you may be able walk a full 18-hole course, but you shouldn’t carry your own bag because the added weight may stress your artificial joint.