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Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

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Replacement Surgery: An Easy Overview


Typically, the most common reasons for hip or knee replacement surgery include constant pain due arthritis or serious injury to the joint. When medication and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage the pain, surgery is often the best option.

About hip replacement…
A total hip implant is made of three parts: the stem, the ball and the cup. These three parts duplicate the natural hip joint, which is a ball and socket at the end of the long thighbone. The stems of most replacement joints are made of titanium or chromium-based alloys. The ball is made of cobalt/chromium alloys or ceramic materials, which are polished to ensure smooth movement within the socket. The socket is typically made of metal, polyethylene or a combination of the two.

There are many types, sizes and manufacturers of hip implants. The type your doctor chooses depends on your age, weight, bone quality, health status, activity level and your doctor’s preference. 

In the last 40 years, hip replacement technique has seen a great deal of refinement and success. Today, patients can expect an 80 percent chance of a hip replacement lasting for 20 years. People who weigh less than 165 pounds are most likely to have replacements that last the longest.

Over time, the implants can suffer from wear and tear just as the original joint did. When that happens, a second replacement surgery is often the best option.

Knee replacement
The knee is the most common joint for replacement surgery. In these operations, the surgeon replaces the damaged surfaces of the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replaces them with an implant made of metals, plastics and polymers. Most of the time, other structures of the knee, such as connecting ligaments, remain in place.

The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body, and there are more than 150 knee replacement designs for your doctor to choose from. As with hip replacement, the type of implant your doctor chooses depends on your age, weight, health status, etc.

Successful knee replacement procedures enable people to become active once again, to live without debilitating pain, to sleep better and in general to experience a better quality of life. They have a high success rate, especially for people who follow their rehabilitation regimen to the letter.

For information about what rehabilitation after hip and knee replacement surgery entails, read this months’ article titled Making Replacement Surgery a Success. To find out how to lower your risk of needing replacement surgery, read Protecting your Joints.

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery; The Arthritis Foundation.
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