Perhaps you've had painful arthritis joints for years, or maybe you've just received your diagnosis. Either way, the possibility of surgery looms overhead.
We know that surgery is sometimes the best and only option to find relief from arthritis pain, but we also understand that it requires you to invest your time and money. So, our team of experts at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group only recommend it when it’s absolutely necessary.
Here's a closer look at when your arthritic joints need surgery.
How do I know if I need surgery for arthritis?
There are tons of great arthritis treatment plans; most begin conservatively and include everything from injections and medications to lifestyle adjustments. However, these methods typically only work for mild-to-moderate arthritis, where your symptoms are noticeable but still manageable. With mild-to-moderate arthritis, you often still have cartilage in your joint, and your bones are, for the most part, still intact.
With severe arthritis, the cartilage on your bones may be almost completely gone. Bone spurs that developed in the earlier stages have multiplied, and inflammation has taken over — not to mention the increased pain level.
Severe arthritis occurs when mild-to-moderate arthritis goes untreated or doesn't respond to conservative intervention, allowing your joints to deteriorate quickly. The result is excruciating pain, decreased quality of life, and elevated risk of more serious complications, such as permanent damage and disability.
Once arthritis has crossed over and become severe, we begin discussing your surgical options. At that point, there's little possibility of your joints recovering, and the best way forward is often to replace them.
With the help of an X-ray, we can quickly assess the severity of your arthritis. We also consider which treatments you've already tried and use that information to help us decide if surgery is right for you.
What's involved in arthritis surgery?
The primary goal of arthritis surgery is to remove the damaged joints and replace them with artificial joints. Our highly skilled surgeons have many years of experience performing these joint replacement procedures. They use the least invasive procedures and techniques possible to avoid damage to the soft tissues surrounding your joints, which helps you recover much more quickly.
There are two main types of joint replacement surgery: total and partial (partial only performed electively for knees).
We recommend total joint replacement if both bones in your joint are damaged. We carefully remove the ends of each bone before replacing them with prosthetic implants.
With partial knee replacement, one area of your joint is still healthy enough. We remove and replace only the damaged part of your joint, leaving you with as much natural bone as possible.
Recovering from joint replacement surgery
We use minimally invasive techniques to minimize damages and reduce recovery time, but that doesn't mean you'll operate at your usual clip moments after the anesthesia wears off. You can expect to return to normal activity levels within two to three months after your surgery.
It may take some time, but there's no reason you shouldn't be able to do everything you did before you had surgery (or before you had arthritis). We often recommend you start a physical therapy program to facilitate your recovery and support your joints longer-term.
How can I avoid joint replacement surgery?
Though sometimes joint replacement surgery is a matter of when, not if, we know that avoiding it for as long as possible is a priority. So, whether you have mild-to-moderate arthritis already or your joints are still healthy, consider these strategies to keep your joints healthy and you out of the operating room:
- Maintain a healthy weight to keep pressure off your joints
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Quit smoking
- Limit your consumption of alcohol
- Manage other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes
- Do low-impact exercises
- Stretch often
- Focus on your form when lifting and running
Above all else, come see us at the first sign of new or worsening joint pain. We have a wide range of treatments available to help you get a handle on arthritis before it becomes severe.
If you'd like more information about arthritis and the treatments we offer, don't hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone today. We're conveniently located in Carmel, Newburgh, Mt. Kisco, and Fishkill, New York, and Danbury, Connecticut.