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How do I know when I should consider Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is performed for patients with arthritis to improve their quality of life. Patients can consider joint replacement surgery when they are unable to participate in the activities they enjoy due to their arthritis such as playing with their children or grandchildren, walking, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.

How long does a Joint Replacement last?

If you have your joint replaced today, you have a 90-95% chance that your joint replacement will last 10 years and a 80-85% chance that your joint replacement will last 20 years. With newer implant technology, these numbers may improve.

How do I find a surgeon to do my Joint Replacement?

There are 3 important characteristics to consider when determining whether your orthopaedic surgeon is qualified to do your joint replacement.

The first is whether the patient is comfortable with and trusts their surgeon. Dr. Charters recommends all patients ask their surgeon two questions:

  1. Are you subspecialized in joint replacement surgery?
  2. Do you do a high volume of joint replacement surgery?

Dr. Charters is subspecialized in joint replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and performs approximately 400 joint replacement surgeries per year.

What is the recovery like after Joint Replacement?

The surgery takes approximately 90 minutes. With Dr. Charters’ rapid-recovery protocols, patients are walking within a few hours of surgery and walk several times the same day as the surgery. With multi-modal pain management protocols, Dr. Charters and his team treat pain before it starts and many patients require minimal opioid medication. Approximately 90% of Dr. Charters’ patients go home the same day or next day after surgery. Patients who are interested in outpatient joint replacement can go home the same day as the surgery.

I’ve been told by my doctor that I have arthritis. What can I do to prevent the arthritis from getting worse and avoid joint replacement surgery?

Arthritis is a degenerative condition which means that it will continue to get worse over time, but there are some lifestyle modifications that you can make to slow the progression of arthritis in your joints. The best things that can be done to slow the progression of arthritis are exercise and weight loss. Exercise is important to keep the muscles around your joints strong and limber. Regular exercise will also help your joints feel better. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for the health of your joints. If you are overweight, then weight loss can help. Every pound of weight that you lose equates to 3 pounds less pressure on your hip joint and 5 pounds less pressure on your knee joint.

Should I use stem cells for my arthritis?

Arthritis is when the cartilage (the smooth lining of the knee joint) wears out. There are currently no treatments which can replace the damaged cartilage in your arthritic hip or knee joint. One experimental treatment for treatment of arthritis is stem cell therapy and other regenerative medical treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP). There is limited research that stem cells and PRP provide temporary relief in arthritis symptoms; however, many patients have the same temporary relief with steroid or lubricant (viscosupplementation) injections. There are no studies that show that stem cells or PRP will cure knee arthritis, and many of the clinics that provide these treatments are largely unregulated. Additionally, insurances do not cover these treatments and they have a high out-of-pocket expense. Given the unproven benefits, high out-of-pocket costs to patients, and safety concerns, stem cells and PRP are not recommended for the treatment of advanced hip and knee arthritis.

What is a hip replacement made of?

A hip is a ball-and-socket joint. A hip replacement is when the ball and socket are replaced with metal, plastic, and/or ceramic parts. The most common type of hip replacement today consists of 4 components, 2 components on the femur (thigh bone) side and 2 components on the acetabular (hip socket) side.

The 2 components that are placed in the femur (thigh bone) are:

  • A short stem in the femur (thigh bone) made of titanium.
  • A ball made out of ceramic which is attached to the hip stem.

The socket (acetabulum) portion of the hip replacement consists of 2 parts: An outer shell which is made of metal and an inner lining of the metal socket made of plastic.

  • The outer shell is inserted into the acetabulum (pelvis bone) and is made of titanium.
  • The inner lining of the metal socket is made of a special plastic known as highly cross-linked polyethylene.

What is a knee replacement made of?

The knee joint is a hinge joint. A knee replacement is when the knee joint is resurfaced with metal and plastic parts. There are 3 bones that form the knee joint: the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). The most common knee replacement today consists of 4 components: 1 component attached to the femur, 2 components attached to the tibia, and 1 component attached to the patella.

  • Femur (thigh bone) component: The first component is the metal that resurfaces the end of the femur (thigh bone) which is made of cobalt-chromium alloy.
  • Tibia (shin bone) components: The next 2 components attach to top of the tibia (shin bone):
    • The second component is the metal tibial tray which resurfaces the top of the tibia and it is made of titanium.
    • The third component is the tibial insert attaches to the top of the metal tibial tray. It is made of a special plastic called highly cross-linked polyethylene.
  • Patella (knee cap) component: The fourth component resurfaces the back of the patella (knee cap) and it is made of a special plastic called highly cross-linked polyethylene.

If you want more information, these are some video questions that were answered by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

What is arthritis?

Does stem cell treatment for knee osteoarthritis work?

Is it normal to hear clicking sounds from my knee replacement?

For more "frequently asked questions", visit the websites below:

For more information about joint replacement, visit the websites below: