The Life-Changing Joint Replacement Surgery Routinely Undertaken by Orthopaedic Specialists
It must be extremely difficult for young, fit, and constantly mobile individuals to imagine that they might, at some future date, find many of the tasks they once handled with ease have become impossible, unless willing to suffer severe pain. Although not the only cause of a malfunctioning shoulder, hip, or knee, osteoarthritis is certainly the most common, and it is on the increase. More significantly, it is no longer a condition confined to the elderly, but one that is now affecting more of those aged under 50, and even some still in their 30s. Once a painful life sentence, specialists in joint replacement surgery are now able to provide many of the victims of this debilitating condition with a new lease of life.
The problem arises when the cartilage layers that normally coat the articulating surfaces of a joint, protecting the bones and allowing them to move freely, become damaged. Whether due to a physical injury or a disease, such as osteoarthritis, the result is that these surfaces become roughened, and any attempt at movement then gives rise to a grating action that is accompanied by pain. While the condition is normally evident radiologically, it can take a while before its symptoms become apparent. Generally, it is at this stage that joint replacement surgery may be deemed appropriate by the specialist in attendance.
Before proceeding, he or she may require a closer look at the affected joint and, for such purposes, a technique known as arthroscopy has been developed. An endoscope, fitted with a light and miniature video camera, is introduced through a tiny incision, and close-up images of the internal details of a knee, for instance, are then relayed by a fibre optic cable to a monitor screen or eyepiece real-time evaluation. Where the damage is relatively minor, treatment may also be undertaken arthroscopically.
For a total joint replacement, more radical surgery is required. However, this specialist, life-changing procedure is remarkably successful and will generally provide patients with at least ten, if not twenty years of pain-free movement.