Osteoarthritis affects more than 32.5 million Americans. This devastating disease is diagnosed when the cartilage that cushions the space between the bones that form your joints wears away, eventually leading to chronic joint pain and stiffness as the bones rub together.
While there’s no cure for osteoarthritis, conservative treatments like physical therapy, weight loss, oral medicantions, and joint injections can slow its progression, alleviate mild pain, and restore mobility.
When these strategies are no longer effective enough, however, our skilled team at Total Joint Specialists may recommend joint replacement surgery to ease pain and restore full function. Although modern joint replacement procedures are exceptionally safe and minimally invasive, the prospect of surgery — and the thought of even a short recovery — can still be daunting for many patients.
So, how do you know when your osteoarthritis is at the point of needing surgery? Here are some tell-tale signs that it may be time to consider a joint replacement.
Your cartilage shows significant wear
Cartilage is the strong, flexible connective tissue that fits between your bones at joints in your body. This smooth connective tissue absorbs shock and facilitates easy movement.
With osteoarthritis, cartilage wears away. When it’s significantly worn or completely gone, your joint simply doesn’t move in the way that it once did. Because cartilage can’t be regenerated, joint replacement surgery is the only way to ease pain and restore function.
You have little space between your bones
The phrase "bone on bone arthritis" indicates that the cartilage cap has worn through completely in some areas. Cartilage is a layer of space between the bones where they meet at your joints. This means easy movement and no bone-on-bone pain. When the cartilage has worn down, your bones begin to rub against each other without the benefiit of the cartilage cushion. This creates inflammation in the knee and can cause pain and restrict your range of motion. Joint replacement surgery is a good remedy when non-operative measures have failed.
You have regular joint swelling
If arthritis is causing your joint to show regular signs of uncomfortable inflammation, like pain and swelling, it may be time for surgery. This inflammation limits your comfort and ability to do the activities you love — or even just necessary daily tasks.
Conservative treatments don’t offer relief
With mild arthritis, over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, movement modifications, and joint injections can ease pain. When these interventions no longer help, it’s time to consider surgery.
Advanced surgery techniques
The advanced surgery techniques used at Total Joint Specialists makes joint replacement surgery less traumatic than it was 5-10 years ago. We use small incisions that cause minimal blood loss and tissue damage.
Your entire joint replacement experience can be completed in as little as 5 hours. That means you check in, have surgery, recover from anesthesia, and return home in that short period of time. In most cases, our meticulous pre-surgical prep and careful post-surgical monitoring make it possible for you to successfully recover at home.
While you will need 1-2 months to generally recover from joint replacement surgery, the end result is well worth it. You regain function at the joint. Bone-on-bone pain is gone. Many patients who go through joint replacement surgery wonder why they waited so long to get the procedure done, because the relief they experience is so complete.
If you have advanced osteoarthritis that makes you less active and interferes with your quality of life, we can help. Call or click online today to schedule a visit at your nearest Total Joint Specialists office in Midtown Atlanta, Alpharetta, Braselton, Canton, Cumming, Gainesville, Lawrenceville, or Woodstock, Georgia.