Friday, November 30, 2007

Hip and knee replacements

Many people with osteoarthritis face the prospect of a hip or knee replacement sometime in their life. This major surgery is life changing and can add years of productivity and quality of life.

First, why a replacement?
As the knee or hip wears down, the pain can become unbearable. As it becomes harder to walk, activity levels go down. As activity levels go down, physical fitness can become affected and – importantly – it can the psychosocial aspect of life. Someone who can’t leave the home can become socially isolated, leading to depression and other issues. The older the person, the worse it can be.

What is involved in a replacement?
You can have a total replacement or a partial replacement. A total replacement is exactly what it says – the entire joint is replaced with a manmade device and attached to the bones. The implant is made of the socket, ball, and stem. A partial replacement involves only removing parts of the joint. Which one and which brand of replacement someone receives depends on many issues, including the extent of damage to the joint, the condition of the bones to which the joint must be attached, availability of the implant, and the surgeon’s experience.


This is a major surgery with all the accompanying surgical risks. People who are overweight may be told they need to lose weight first. The reason is very clear – the weight can cause problems with anesthesia and recovery, as well as the burden placed on the new joint. Those who smoke should stop smoking – this can greatly affect how someone recovers from anesthetic and there have been studies that show that smokers have a harder time healing.

What can be expected after surgery?
After a replacement, patients go either to a rehabilitation center or home, depending on how the home is set up and if there is help available. Physiotherapy is a large component of proper healing following a replacement so compliance with the physiotherapy program is vital

How long does an implant last?
The length of time an implant lasts depends on many issues and lifestyle factors. These include if someone is overweight, participates in impact-loading activities (running, for example), lifts heavy weights frequently, and so on.

What about complications?
Yes, there can be complications following hip or knee replacements. Occasionally, the hardware breaks or becomes loose, requiring a revision surgery. As well, the bone surrounding the replacement can weaken or break, causing problems. If pain or clicking noises begin, this should be investigated to prevent worsening of the problem.

Hip and knee replacements can literally re-open the world for people; technology can be a wonderful thing.

News for Today:

Montreal health experts want 60-second AIDS test available in province
New HIV-AIDS drug approved for Canadian market
Panel Seeks Warning to Prevent Pediatric Use of Sleep Drug
Ibuprofen associated with slower lung function decline in children with cystic fibrosis
Health Canada issues health alert for Axcil, Desirin
Identifying patients at high risk for total hip replacement
U.S. obesity rates level off: CDC
Cases of mumps continue to rise in Alberta
Night shift-cancer link gaining acceptance
Long-term improvement seen with hip replacement

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am 48 and I have a total knee done in 2004. In 2006 it came apart and they did a complete replacement in March of 2007. It has already come loose and on Dec. 19, we are doing the whole thing over again. Have you ever seen such a thing as this. 3 complete replacements in 3 years when infection was not involved?

Marijke Durning said...

I'm sorry - that must be incredibly frustrating. I've not heard of that type of situation.

Anonymous said...

I am the first comment. I am doing ok from the Dec surgery. This have been a very difficult recovery mostly on the mental side. I just finished therapy which makes for 10 out of the last 14 months I have been rehabing. I'm still sore but I have good range of motion back. Just wanted to give you an update.