Published by Steve Hedberg on March 2, 2012 Under arthritis
While medications and treatments such as massage or low-impact exercise can be very effective at treating arthritis, sometimes surgery is necessary. Typically surgery is used only after other avenues have already been exhausted or in very serious cases of arthritis.
Since knees and hips are some of the more common areas affected by arthritis and can be some of the most debilitating areas to be affected, orthopedic surgery is the most common type of arthritis treatment. This often involves hip, knee, or shoulder replacement, although there are also less severe arthritis surgeries preformed, like clean in out a joint or fusing a bone.
Joint Fusion, which is also referred to as arthrodesis, used to be one of the most common types of arthritis treatments. It involves removing most of the joint and securing the two bones directly together.
The idea is that once the joint heals, it prevents the bones from rubbing together. However, since the other joints around it must work harder, it can have the effect of putting more wear and tear on the surrounding joints.
Arthrodesis is no longer as common as it was in the past, but is sometimes used in the toes or wrist, as well as sometimes in the ankle. Joint fusion is still quite common for treating back pain and other back problems, although it carries with it a very large risk.
The process of completely replacing a joint, which is called arthroplasty, is the most common type of arthritis treatment. More than a hundred and fifty thousand hip replacements are preformed in the United States each year, with a success rate of around 90%.
In seniors, a hip replacement will often last over twenty years, although this is less for a more active individual.
Hip replacement was preformed in the sixties and seventies, but with limited success. Today’s hip replacements use an improved version of the devices developed during this time.
While quite effective and offering a major improvement to mobility for many people, hip replacements are a major surgery and longer recovery time.
In a shoulder replacement, which is most common among those with osteoarthritis, it is not as common for increased mobility or range of motion to occur as it is in a hip replacement. However, most will experience a significant reduction in joint pain.
Since the ball and socket of a shoulder is much shallower than that of a hip, if the bone has worn down significantly, a shoulder replacement may not be possible.
The knee is one of the, if not the, most complex joints in the body. Older versions of the artificial knee were much less effective and more hinge-like, rather than a close replications of an actual knee. As a result, range of motion was often greatly reduced. Developing an artificial knee was quite difficult and only over the past few years has a joint that allows reasonable mobility been developed.
In addition to complete replacement of the knee, it is sometimes possible to replace only a portion of it. However, these replacements last for only around 10 years, where a knee replacement can sometimes last longer than a hip, or over twenty years.
Replacing Other Joints
The hip, shoulder, and knee is the most common type of arthroplasty. However, other joints, like the elbow, knuckle, ankle, and wrist can be replaced. While some of these, especially the knuckle replacement, are quite common, others like the wrist are far less common and would more likely be fused, rather than replaced.
Joint Washing and Synovium Removal
In many types of arthritis, small pieces of bone and other substances can form in a joint, which can make movements very painful.
However, this procedure is not typically washing out in the sense that you would wash out your pickup-truck bed, but rather the removal of theses pieces of bone using microscopic cameras and surgical tools.
Synovium removal involves removing the fluid around the joint, which is called synovium and can often contain inflammatory chemicals. This is, in many cases, not as effective as other treatments, but can slow the spread of arthritis.
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