At At Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Associates, we believe that joint replacement should be a last resort that is considered only after all other appropriate forms of treatment, such as physical therapy and medications, are attempted without success. With that said, joint replacement surgery can be highly effective for reducing joint pain and restoring mobility in certain patients. Our orthopaedic surgeon is available to answer questions for individuals, who would like to learn more about joint replacement.
In general, we believe the best joint replacement candidates are individuals who are experiencing severe joint pain, stiffness, swelling, muscle weakness, or mobility issues that have not responded sufficiently to conservative treatment. For instance, depending on the joint affected and the degree of damage, daily activities like walking, putting on shoes, getting in and out of cars, and climbing stairs may be difficult or impossible.
Oftentimes, the orthopaedic experts at Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Associates, are able to trace the underlying cause of these symptoms to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. While research is ongoing, current studies are inclusive regarding the specific causes of arthritis. However, a number of factors are believed to contribute to joint deterioration that leads to arthritis and, ultimately, the need for joint replacement. Some of these factors include:
- Minor repetitive injuries sustained over time
- Severe trauma to cartilage (connective tissue) in a joint
- Hereditary conditions, such as a genetic predisposition to atypical cartilage metabolism
- Developmental irregularities in joint formation
Joint replacement surgery is designed to replace damaged joint cartilage and address any associated bone loss. The procedure involves the resurfacing of a ankle joint, followed by the placement of a custom prosthesis (artificial joint) constructed of metal and plastic. The prosthesis may be affixed to bone with acrylic cement, or it can be press-fit, which facilitates the growth of bone into the implant. After the joint replacement procedure is complete, joint function and mobility can be restored through physical therapy.