Joint Replacement Surgery

What is joint replacement surgery?

Total hip replacement showing the pelvis, bone prepared, femur and prosthesis
Click image to enlarge

Joint replacement, is surgery to remove and replace an arthritic or damaged joint with an artificial joint (called a prosthesis). It may be considered only after other treatment options have failed to provide pain relief or disability.

When preparing for joint replacement surgery

As with any surgery, there are some preoperative considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • Exercise. Our bodies tend to heal and regain function faster when they are in good physical and cardiovascular condition.

  • Medicine. Before the surgery, discuss with your doctor the medicines you are currently taking. Some may need to be temporarily discontinued until after the surgery. This determination can be most appropriately made by your primary care doctor and orthopedist.

  • Discharge planning. As with any surgery, be sure to discuss discharge planning with your doctor beforehand. Your discharge plan may include instructions on care of the incision, pain medicines, activities, special exercises, and other home care instructions.

  • Rehabilitation. People who have a total joint replacement can still lead functional, active lifestyles. One major component of many rehabilitation programs is exercise to restore function, mobility, and strength to the affected joint and surrounding muscles. Discuss with your doctor what an appropriate postoperative rehabilitation program should include.

Consult your doctor for more specific preoperative planning for your individual condition and type of joint replacement surgery.

Possible complications associated with joint replacement surgery

Although joint replacement surgery is typically successful, complications may still occur, including:

  • Wound infection

  • Infection around the prosthesis

  • Blood clots

  • Malfunction of the prosthesis (may be caused by wear and tear, breakage, dislocation, or loosening)

  • Nerve injury (although rare, nerves in the surrounding area may become damaged during the surgery)

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Last Review Date: 11/21/2015
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