The pain and lack of mobility associated with joint injury, or arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can put a real damper on your day to day activities. One of the worst results of diseased or degenerative joints is chronic pain, which can all too often become the main focus of your life. Orthopedic doctors will often have many operative and non-operative treatment options available for these conditions, with joint replacement surgery historically being the procedure that becomes necessary after all other treatment options have been exhausted. However, another operative treatment path, called joint preservation, aims to salvage as much of the natural joint as possible.
Joint replacement surgery normally entails replacing the majority of the joint components with a prosthetic device made of metal and plastic, after removing all damaged bone and tissue from the area. This is often a surgery option for older adults whose joints, whether they be knees, hips, shoulders, or even ankles, have deteriorated significantly due to the wear and tear known as osteoarthritis. Much like a car that is getting up there in mileage, the parts inside are only capable of taking so much use and pressure, and the cartilage is often the first thing to go. This results in painful bone on bone friction in the joint, that causes pain, inflammation, and in some cases, joint deformity. An orthopedic surgeon can remove all of the damaged material, and implant a new artificial joint, but this procedure is invasive and requires rigorous physical rehabilitation post-surgery.
All orthopedic surgeons will take a non-operative approach first unless diagnostic imaging has revealed significant damage or severe trauma requires immediate surgical repair. Non-invasive options can include anti-inflammatory medication, assistive devices such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or even regenerative medicine such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or stem cell therapy. If these treatment options fail, then the next least-invasive treatment option is usually explored.
While joint preservation techniques are still considered operative, they are notably less-invasive than actual joint replacement. While diagnosis and treatment depend on the severity of damage inside the joint, joint preservation can be used to realign and fix the joint. A series of cuts can be made, called osteotomies, and the surgeon can adjust your joint back to a more normal position. In many cases, surgery can be done arthroscopically, which is one of the least invasive surgical procedures available, requiring a tiny incision to be made. Recent advanced techniques may also include the application of PRP or stem cells during surgery, to promote regeneration and healing in the joint. In some cases, cartilage can even be transplanted into the area of concern, where you need it most.
While joint preservation surgery is more effective for younger patients, it is certainly worth discussing with your orthopedic surgeon to see if there is a procedure right for your condition. To learn more about joint preservation and how it can help you, call Movement Orthopedics at (586) 436-3785 to request an appointment, or request one online.