While we all experience aches and pains as we get older, pain or stiffness in joints could signal something more severe. Worn out joints may actually need to be replaced through surgery. Joint replacement surgery involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with a synthetic one made of metal or ceramic pieces. Joints that are most commonly replaced are hips, knees, and shoulders. However, there are many other joints that could be eligible for a replacement.
As you consider your options to address joint problems, you may want to review these warning signs that it is time for a joint replacement.
Warning Signs of a Joint Replacement
One major sign that you might need a joint replacement is if you have severe pain that just won’t go away. This pain can make it difficult to complete activities of daily living and maintain your routine at home. It can even make it hard to sleep at night or rest comfortably during the day.
When joint pain cannot be dulled by medications or other forms of treatment, like physical therapy or injections, it may be time for a joint replacement.
While it can be normal for aging joints to become stiff every now and then, constant stiffness is a sign that something more serious is going on. Stiffness, like pain, can interfere with activities of daily living because it limits range of motion. It can make it hard to walk, get dressed, or shower. Stiffness of joints in the legs could also cause seniors to be at a higher risk of falling and severe injury.
If a joint does not regain range of motion through other treatments, surgical intervention may be your best option.
Arthritis refers to joint inflammation that can cause damage to the connective tissue in joints and even result in your bones rubbing together. The most common cause of arthritis is aging. The joints can wear down after years of use, causing persistent pain. Joints most affected include hands and weight-bearing joints, like the knees, hips, and even feet.
Common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis associated with regular “wear and tear” of joints.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue, including joints. As a result, joints can become chronically inflamed, leading to bone erosion and joint deformity.
- Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriatic arthritis can affect individuals with psoriasis. This type of arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain and stiffness. However, these symptoms may flare up and then subside.
- Gout: Gout is actually a form of arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. This acid crystallizes in joints and can become very painful.
While some pain caused by arthritis is very manageable with non-surgical treatment options, severe arthritis can cause excruciating pain and irreversible joint damage and deformation that may only be addressed through joint replacement. Surgery can help remove the damaged portion of bone to reduce pain and restore range of motion.
RELATED CONTENT: 5 Natural Ways to Manage Arthritis
Joints can become damaged for other reasons besides arthritis. Here are some other conditions that can cause long-term joint damage:
- Autoimmune disease
- Strains and sprains
If joints are permanently damaged and other forms of treatment have not helped with symptoms, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.
If Joint Replacement Surgery Is the Best Option
As you discuss your symptoms and joint health with your doctor, you will be able to develop the best treatment plan for you. If this plan involves a joint replacement, here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for surgery and plan recovery.
- Clean and organize your home before surgery. After your surgery, you won’t feel like cleaning the house. Plus, if you have a hip or knee replacement, you will need additional clearance to move around safely. Get this done before surgery.
- Learn about the procedure. There are different ways that a surgeon can perform a joint replacement. Some individuals may only need a partial replacement and others will need a full replacement. Make sure you know the details of your procedure and ask your doctor any questions ahead of time.
- Maintain good health. Prior to surgery, your doctor will ask that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. You don’t want to seriously injure yourself or fall ill and postpone your surgery. Avoid smoking, exercise regularly, and eat healthily. This will also help your body during recovery.
- Arrange for transportation. You will be unable to drive immediately following your surgery, so you should arrange transportation to assist when you are released from the hospital. If a family member cannot help, reach out to the Caring team near you.
- Plan for post-surgical care. You will also need assistance with daily tasks after returning home, so you may want to arrange for someone to help you at home. This could be a family member or a professional caregiver.
RELATED CONTENT: Lifetime Precautions after a Hip Replacement
As you plan for joint replacement surgery, keep Caring Senior Service in mind. Our professional caregivers can help you recover safely at home. They are trained to assist seniors who have undergone a joint replacement surgery and who may also be doing at-home rehabilitation. Reach out to a Caring team near you to learn more about how we can help.