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Joint Replacement Surgery: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: May 20, 2024

What is the Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint Replacement Surgery is performed to remove portions of damaged or arthritic joint and replace them with a plastic, ceramic or metal device known as prosthesis. The prosthesis is devised to replicate healthy joint movement. The most common types of joint replacement surgery are- knee replacement and hip replacement. Knee joint replacement is a surgical procedure to replace an ailing or injured knee with prosthesis. During hip replacement surgery, the arthritic hip joint is replaced with prosthesis. An arthritic joint usually shows the following symptoms- swelling, stiffness, pain that increases when you are active but reduces a little after you rest for a while, a crunching feeling on the bones, tenderness in the hip joint etc. Usually older people who are overweight and physically inactive for a while, suffer from joint pains.

Initially the doctor may prescribe medications and therapy treatments to reduce the joint pain, but if the condition worsens, the ideal treatment choice is a joint replacement surgery. Before the surgery your doctor will first go through your medical history, evaluate the condition, and perform a few physical examinations. An X-ray can show the image of the damaged joint. The doctor will also view your overall health in order to minimize anesthetic risks.

How is the Joint Replacement Surgery treatment done?

Before the surgery your doctor will first go through your medical history, evaluate the condition, and perform a few physical examinations. An X-ray can show the image of the damaged joint. Initially the doctor may prescribe medications and therapy treatments to reduce the joint pain, but if the condition worsens, the ideal treatment choice is a joint replacement surgery. The doctor will also view your overall health in order to minimize anesthetic risks. During a knee replacement surgery the doctor will make an incision in your knee to cut away the damaged bone and cartilage. He will attach the healthy knee joint into the femur which is the strongest bone and longest bone in your body, and tibia which is located in the front lower portion of your leg, using specialized pins, screws and cement. He will then stitch the cut wound to close it and apply bandage. You will be given Intravenous Therapy (IV) with nutrients and fluids during the surgery.

In case of a hip replacement surgery, the doctor makes an incision along the side of the hip and moves the muscles that are connected to the thighbone to uncover the hip joint. Next, the ball portion of the hip joint is removed, and artificial joint is affixed by using specialized pins, screws and cement. The surgeon then removes the damaged cartilage thereby preparing the hipbone surface, and attaches the replaced socket part to the hipbone. The new ball portion of the femur is inserted into the socket part of the hip. A drain may be injected to help filter any fluid. Finally the surgeon will refix the muscles and close the surgical cut. During both the procedures the patient will be sedated with anesthesia to relax the muscles and to prevent you from feeling the pain.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If an individual is suffering from unbearable arthritic pain and symptoms like swelling, stiffness, a crunching feeling on the bones, tenderness in the hip joint etc, then the person is eligible for the treatment. However, the treatment depends largely on many underlying conditions so you will first need to consult a doctor.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If the pain is minor and subsides on its own with the help of medications, then you will not have to undergo a surgery.

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Are there any side effects?

Joint replacement surgery can often lead to a few side effects or complications. The most common ones are- bleeding, blood clots in the legs, stiffness in the knee, respiratory problems caused by anesthesia, damage in the nerve tissue, stroke or heart attack.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After a joint replacement surgery, patients need to be careful about not putting too much pressure on the replaced portion. You may try out a few light exercises but refrain from strenuous activities. You will not be able to drive for quite sometime. For minor hip or knee pain problems, individuals can get back to their daily activities with the help of medications. Appropriate exercises are recommended by doctors to stay active.

How long does it take to recover?

It usually takes 3-6 months to recover after a joint replacement surgery. During this period you will need to follow the post treatment guidelines to avoid any risk factors.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Joint replacement surgery in India roughly costs somewhere between Rs.2,00,000 to Rs.3,50,000 depending on the surgical method and the arthritic problem you are suffering from.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent. However, the patients will need to be very careful about not putting too much pressure or exposing the treated portion to an injury. Joint replacement surgery for older people requires lot more care and attention.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Alternative treatment can be Physiotherapy or Ayurvedic therapy. In recent time, Stem Cell therapy is being considered as an alternative for knee replacement surgery.

References

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Written ByDr. Kailash Kothari MD - Anaesthesiology,MBBSOrthopaedics
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