Men's Health

Arthritis: Arthroplasty and Joint Replacement

Arthritis: Arthroplasty and Joint Replacement

What is arthroplasty?

As the name suggests, arthroplasty is a procedure that is performed on the joints. These procedures are limited. Therefore, arthroplasty is usually the last option for the patient as well as the physician. The purpose of arthroplasty is to repair stiffened joints, relieve pain, and restore a degree of mobility and function. Average surgical tools are not used for this procedure, but instead require plastic and metal parts that are inserted into the area of the body that is undergoing the procedure. The procedure can either be a partial, or a total replacement of the joint. In partial replacements, the orthopedic surgeon only repairs the section of the joint that is damaged. In total replacements, the entirety of the joint is replaced using prosthesis.

What is Joint Replacement?

Classified under arthroplasty. It refers to replacement of the joint, as previously mentioned, replacement can either be a complete replacement, or a partial one. It is only performed when all other treatments have been exhausted, and failed to relieve the patient’s symptoms. Most commonly, it is the hip and knee joints that require this procedure.


Reviewing the statistics for this procedure, you will discover that joint replacement is highly common. In 2009, it became the fourteenth most commonly performed operation. Full replacements of the knees were performed on an estimated 4.5 million people living in the united states alone. Statistics also show that a rise in the number of knee replacements performed annually has increased by 84% between 1997 and 2009. A number of researchers also discovered that knee replacements were performed more commonly on women 63% than men 37%.

Arthroplasty procedure

This procedure will likely require a longer stay in the hospital. General or local anesthesia is usually administered to the patient undergoing the procedure. As part of pre-surgery prep, patients will be required to wear a medical gown. The next step will be to place a urinary catheter. Any hair that may be covering the skin where the damaged joint is located must be removed, and antiseptics are applied to sterilize the area that will undergo surgery. The surgeon will then create an incision to remove the damaged parts. Traditionally in this type of surgery, the incision is usually 8 to 10 inches long. In a minimal knee surgery, the incision is 4 to 6 inches in length. The first section of the knee that will be exposed is your kneecap, also referred to as the patella. The surgeon will begin to rotate the kneecap, which will assist him in locating the area needed to performed the surgical procedure. The first bone that the surgeon will resurface is the femur, also called thighbone. After the knee joint has been exposed, the surgeon will carefully take measurements of the bone and make precise cuts using special instruments. The compromised bone and cartilage is extracted from the femur. The surgeon will then attach a femoral component (made of metal) to the end of the femur. Bone cement will then be used to seal it into place. The next bone that the surgeon will resurface is the shinbone, or tibia. As part of the operation the compromised bone and cartilage from the top of the shinbone will be removed. Plastic and metal tibial components will then be shaped around the tibia bone. The bottom portion of the implant, known as the tibial tray, is then fitted to the tibia and secured into place using bone cement. Once this tray is placed, the surgeon fits a polyethylene insert between the tibial tray and the femoral component to act as a sort of buffer. This insert acts as a support for the body when the patient attempts to bend their knees. Once the procedure has been completed, the surgeon will close the incision with staples or stitches, and bandaging the area, preparing the patient for their journey to a gradual recovery.

Risks of arthroplasty

The possible risks associated with arthroplasty are bleeding, infection (when sterile equipment is not used) problems with blood clotting (the clots can form in the blood vessels of the legs, which could potentially lead to an embolism in the lungs) improper insertion of prosthetic parts. Arthroplasty is not always successful. As with any major surgery, there is always a chance that an allergic reaction caused by the anesthesia can occur. post-operative infection, or a risk that blood clots (thrombophlebitis) may lead to pain and swelling near the surgical site, which may travel through the veins to other parts of the body. In addition, a joint that has undergone surgery is less stable than a healthy joint. This is caused by dislocation or loosening of the repaired joint that could potentially occur, especially with inappropriate physical activity. The patient must therefore always be careful on how they conduct their movements and care for their body.

Joint replacement procedure

Joint replacement begins with anesthesia, then the area of the joint must be cleaned. An incision is to be made and the whole joint must be replaced with medical prosthesis. The time taken for the surgery depends on the extent of the damage to the compromised joint, and the method of surgery. The whole process could take less than 2 hours to replace a knee or a hip joint successfully.

Risks of joint replacement

Most of the risks of joint replacement are same as arthroplasty. But there are some additional complications that can arise, such as dislocation (the ball of the prosthesis might come out of the socket. This is more common with hip joints). A small amount of wear and tear may be found in all joint replacements, but too much wear might cause loosening and injury to nerves and blood vessels.

It is always better to look for non-invasive procedures to treat arthritis. But sometimes these procedures fail to yield any results, and joint replacement is the only option left. Most people complain of pain, swelling, and warmth of the joints, but sometimes people get what is called arthritis flare-up. When all symptoms suddenly increase in severity and it seems to be unbearable. To avoid such cases, the best cure lies in an arthroplasty or joint replacement. Which proves to be the only permanent solution to all these problems. 

Key Takeaways

  • There has been an 84% increase in knee replacement surgeries between the years 1997 and 2009
  • Knee replacements are performed more often on women than men
  • Joint replacement surgery can take less than 2 hours to perform successfully