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Minimally Invasive Joint Replacement Surgeries

More than one million Americans – the majority of whom are 50 or older – choose to undergo joint replacement (or arthroplasty) each year. Arthroplasty restores the integrity of your joints and improves function using an artificial joint, or prosthesis.

However, if the prospect of enduring traditional surgery to replace a hip or knee fills you with dread, you’ll be relieved to know there is an excellent alternative: minimally invasive joint replacement.

Although traditional surgery is still a popular option among many patients, minimally invasive techniques are rapidly becoming the norm for those looking for a faster and less painful recovery.

What Makes Surgery Minimally Invasive?

With traditional (fully invasive) joint replacement surgery, orthopedic surgeons make large incisions that cut through muscles, tendons, and ligaments as a means of reaching and replacing the affected joints. That results in more bleeding, more post-operative pain that needs to be managed, more vulnerability to infection, a longer scar, and a longer recovery period before the patient regains a full range of motion.

In fact, most of the pain and dysfunction after traditional joint replacement surgery is due to these large incisions, not due to the manipulation and replacement of the bones themselves. As a result, patients need to stay in the hospital for several days and then take several weeks off from work to recuperate.

With minimally invasive joint replacement surgery, orthopedic surgeons make smaller incisions, minimize muscular detachment, and cut through less tissue during the procedure. As a result, there is much less overall trauma to the body, and the recovery period is significantly shorter.

Also, physical therapy is easier after minimally invasive surgery, because it usually doesn’t involve rehabilitating organs that have been severed.

Does Minimally Invasive Surgery Work as Well as Regular Surgery?

A major advantage of minimally invasive joint replacement is that it can be performed on an outpatient basis. Your surgery can be performed early in the morning, and you can conceivably be back home that very afternoon.

Plus, in the case of knee and hip replacement surgery, you could be walking with a cane immediately following the surgery. This means you can recover more quickly than with traditional invasive surgery.

Minimally invasive joint replacement surgery represents a dramatic improvement in surgical techniques. Higher-quality materials from which implants are made have led to a growing number of patients achieving optimum outcomes after hip and knee replacements – and with a reduced rate of post-surgical infection or other complications.

Combined with physical therapy, minimally invasive joint replacement surgery alleviates the stiffness and pain associated with severe arthritis, and it allows for more complete range of motion – thereby enabling your body to operate naturally again.

Types of Successful Surgical Procedures

At the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, we utilize the most advanced surgical methods available today – including minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Some of the joint replacement surgeries and procedures we perform at our medical clinic include:

Who Can Help with My Joint Pain?

If you’ve sustained an injury or have a degenerative condition that requires joint replacement, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition, explain your treatment options, and implement the procedure you and your surgeon decide upon.

Call us at (719) 623-1050 today for an appointment, or fill out our online consultation request form now. We look forward to helping you get back to the active lifestyle you’ve always enjoyed.

Is Age a Consideration for Joint Replacement?

Often, people with joint pain and other issues are told they are too young for joint replacement surgery because implants have a lifespan and, if performed too early, may require being redone, surgically, later. Or, they are told they are too old or have age-related medical issues might preclude major surgery.

However, thanks to medical advances, age is no longer the only factor when considering a joint replacement surgery. For example, problems such as obesity, alcoholism, and osteoporosis may prevent patients from being able to successfully undergo a joint replacement surgery, regardless of their age.

The baseline today is that if normal, day-to-day activities, body movement, and functions are impaired due to painful joints, it is time to consider joint replacement. Restoring body functionality, relieving pain and bringing life back to normal take precedence over many former solely age-based considerations.

Joint Replacement and the Age Factor

Age is one variable among other equally important ones when considering joint replacement. Each individual case needs to be assessed on its own specifics.

The decision to go ahead or not with a joint replacement surgery needs to be arrived at after careful evaluation based on accurate reasoning and evaluation. Prior to surgery, all other options should be tried. 

Life needs to be lived with as much ease and independence as possible, at all ages. If joint pain or disability prevents it, and all other considerations are equal, viable surgery should be conducted regardless of the age of a patient.

In general, however, there are certain advantages and disadvantages common to each age group when it comes to joint replacement surgery.

Young Patients and Joint Replacement

Contrary to popular belief, age may disqualify a young joint-replacement candidate more often than an older one. Younger people tend to be more active and wear out their implants sooner – thus, they are more likely to need corrective (revision) surgery. Failure of an implant can cause great discomfort, pain, and impair the functionality and mobility of the affected joint. It defeats the purpose of the surgery. 

Also, very young patients may not fully understand all that is involved. They need counseling, detailed explanations of their disability, any alternative therapies, the nature of the implants and devices, and pre- and postoperative care. They must know that revision surgeries will be most likely needed down the road. Doctors will often advise waiting for joint replacement surgery in such cases unless it is impairing life and causing debilitation.

But those who are older, teenagers, young adults and even children are candidates if their condition is hindering their normal lifestyle, quality, and mobility. All other factors being favorable there is no lower or upper age limit. The most important goal is to reduce pain, improve joint mobility, restore function, independence, and quality of life.

Middle-Aged Patients and Joint Replacement

Patients in their 60-80s are the most common candidates for joint replacement surgeries, as they are neither too old nor too young and have the least need for revision surgeries. The success rate among this age bracket is high, the devices are efficient, long-lasting, and safe.

Geriatric Patients and Joint Replacement 

Patients in their 70s to 90s suffer the most from joint dysfunction. Their painful, weakened joints impact their independence, quality and enjoyment of life, and leisure-time activities.

That said, it is patients in this age group who find their lives transformed by joint replacement surgery.

Geriatric patients require more attentive, expert treatment and care – both before and after surgery – that also take into account any other health issues they may have. They will also need more care at home during recovery.

The qualified and experienced staff at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence utilizes both cutting-edge therapies and traditional treatments to address a variety of orthopedic conditions. For more information on joint replacement, or to schedule a consultation, call us at (719) 623-1050 or visit us at www.ccoe.us.

FAQs for Your Orthopedic Surgeon Before Hip Surgery

If you need hip surgery, it’s important to have as much information about the procedure, recovery and what kind of outcome you may expect. In addition to researching a practice and the surgeon’s reputation, these are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) for your orthopedic surgeon before having hip surgery. 

What exactly is the hip procedure?

Although most hip surgeries involve joint replacement, or arthroplasty, there are other hip procedures performed for various conditions. Here are the most common:

·       Total hip replacement – usually performed to treat osteoarthritis of the hip that has progressed to the point of severe and constant pain that interferes with movement. The damaged part of the joint is cut away or removed, including the end of the femur (the ball of the joint) and cartilage and soft tissues from the inside of the joint. They are replaced with a smooth ball that fits into a prosthetic socket usually made of ceramic or steel.

·       Hip resurfacing –  similar to total hip replacement, prosthetic materials are implanted in the body to replace the hip joint. With hip resurfacing, the head of the femur is fitted with a smooth cap instead of removing the bone area and replacing it with a ball. The socket implanted in the hip fits the resurfaced femur for smooth and pain-free movement.

·       Partial hip replacement – if the end of the femur suffers a bad fracture, a partial hip replacement may be necessary to restore movement. In that case, the femur head is removed and replaced with a ball but the rest of the hip joint is left intact.

·       Hip arthroplasty – using small instruments fitted with a light and camera, the surgeon can remove damaged cartilage from the labrum, or the rim of the hip socket, and any small growths from the femur. This minimally-invasive procedure can be both diagnostic and therapeutic.

Is hip surgery necessary?

Have you tried more conservative methods of treatment for your condition? What are the options? Why does your doctor feel that hip surgery is the best course of action for your care? Some non-surgical treatments for hip conditions like osteoarthritis include physical therapy, assistive devices, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids, and viscosupplementation. 

What is the timeline for recovery?

Recovery can take time and effort after hip surgery. Does the procedure require a hospital stay, and if so, how many days? When will you be able to get around without help? When can you expect to drive, and return to work? Is physical therapy part of recovery? How many times per week? 

If you are in a great deal of pain or feeling emotional about your treatment options, it may be helpful to bring someone with you to your appointment who can help ask questions and remember the details of what is said. If you don’t have that option, bring a notebook where you write your questions before the visit and take notes.

If you have an orthopedic hip condition or injury, the board-certified orthopedic surgeons at the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs can help. Call (719) 623-1050 for an appointment today.

Non-Surgical Options Before Considering Joint Replacement

Joint replacement, or arthroplasty, has helped millions of people by restoring pain-free movement and range of motion to severely damaged and painful joints. Most of the time, people undergoing joint replacement surgery have osteoarthritis, caused by general wear and tear from years of use. In some cases, a joint replacement may be necessary due to the effects of an injury or degenerative condition. Joint replacement is major surgery that carries the risk of complications and requires significant time for recovery.

Effective alternative treatments may postpone or eliminate the need for surgery. Osteoarthritis pain is not always constant and can gradually worsen over time. If you are younger or have a condition that could complicate surgery, your best course may be to delay surgery as long as possible. Prosthetic joints may not last a lifetime. You could require revision or replacement of the implant. Before you have a joint replaced, these are some non-surgical treatment options to consider. 

·       Physical therapy – strengthening the muscles around your joint and gently increasing flexibility are among the many benefits of physical therapy. A physical therapist can also help you get used to moving in ways that do not stress your arthritic joints, while allowing you to maintain the activities you participate in for work or play.

·       Weight loss – most joint replacement surgery is for hips or knees. These joints have the job of holding you upright when you stand, walk, or run. Even a little extra weight can put a great deal more pressure on these joints. Losing weight is a great long-term solution for reducing joint pain and slowing or preventing further damage.

·       NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – available over the counter, NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are reliably effective in reducing the swelling and pain of arthritis. These medications are considered to be safe, though there are some possible complications from higher doses or long-term use. Check with your doctor before taking them regularly. Some NSAIDs may interact with other medications.

·       Steroids – though not a cure, corticosteroids are extremely effective in treating pain and inflammation in a damaged joint. Because of serious potential side effects and decreasing effectiveness after the first treatment, corticosteroids are only considered a temporary solution. However, the relief they provide can last months or even years.

·       Braces or splints – depending on which joint is damaged, the use of an appropriate assistive device can allow you to carry on with your regular activities with little pain. Holding the joint immobile in combination with other treatments can give it a chance to heal.

·       Supplements – medical evidence is lacking for definitive benefits of supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, but there are numerous anecdotal success stories. Doctors generally agree that there is no harm in trying this kind of supplement but be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking them.

·        Stretch – before playing sports or participating in another physical activity, take care to stretch and warm up. Preventing an acute injury to the joints can go a long way towards preventing arthritis in your future. 

The orthopedic surgeons at Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence diagnose and treat all kinds of joint conditions, and will look to non-invasive methods first before resorting to surgery – even in the case for a partial or full joint replacement. For expert and compassionate care in the Colorado Springs area, call (719) 623-1050 for an appointment today.

Does Your Joint Replacement Have a Warranty?

One of the most common questions patients tend to ask their orthopedic surgeons, is about how long their joint replacement will last. Will it last a certain number of years, or is there a designated warranty that comes with the joint replacement, whether hip, knee, shoulder, etc.?  While you might think this type of question would be easy to answer, your orthopedic surgeon will tell you it’s not that simple.

This question is actually quite complicated to answer for orthopedic surgeons. Everyone’s anatomy is unique and built differently. In the past, surgeons used to say after joint replacement surgery, that a patient’s artificial joints would last about 10 to 15 years. However, with modern materials and updated surgical techniques, current studies and evidence-based research show that approximately 96 percent of today’s modern joint replacements, especially knee replacements, will still be functioning past the 15-year mark.

Your joint replacement does not necessarily have a warranty, per se, as each patient is unique in both their anatomy and their level of physical activity. Sometimes a patient is notified by their surgeon that they will require revision surgery. This means that the patient will need to undergo a second surgery to fix their problem. The failure of a joint replacement can occur for variety of different reasons.  These include infection, trauma, loosening of the implant, degeneration (wearing out), or poor positioning of the original implant.

For patients who are suffering from debilitating chronic pain due to degenerative diseases such as arthritis, people who are candidates for joint replacement often suffer from severe joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, muscle weakness, and limited mobility. Therefore, undergoing joint replacement surgery can help relieve their pain, improve their mobility, and most importantly, improve their quality of life immensely.

With a drastic improvement in surgical techniques, high-quality care and materials, such as metal, ceramic, and plastic, the new artificial joint is attached the bone, allowing the bone to grow into the implant. Physical therapy will be recommended afterwards by your surgeon, as rehabilitation will dramatically increase mobility, help with balance, and decrease the recovery time, giving the patient a higher quality of life in the end.

At Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence, we utilize the most advanced surgical methods available today, including minimally invasive procedures whenever possible.

To learn how you can make your joint replacement last, and if you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment online.