Rheumatoid Arthritis and Surgery. Should You Do It?

Health & Fitness

  • Author Mark Smith
  • Published June 16, 2020
  • Word count 644

Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from joint pain, swelling, and stiffness that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can make everyday life challenging at best, and life crippling at worst. Left untreated, this chronic autoimmune condition can cause bone erosion and joint deformities in the hands and wrists that impairs normal function of the knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders, as well.

If you are considering surgery to alleviate discomfort, be sure to make an appointment with a trusted rheumatoid arthritis doctor near Temecula first, and read this article before making the next move.

What is joint replacement?

Joint replacement, or replacement arthroplasty, is a procedure of orthopedic surgery in which an arthritic or dysfunctional joint surface is replaced with an orthopedic prosthesis. During surgery, parts of an arthritic or damaged joint are removed and replaced with a metal, plastic or ceramic device called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to replicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint.

Hip and knee replacements are the most commonly performed joint replacements, but the ankle, wrist, shoulder, and elbow can also be treated.

Is joint replacement the new normal?

More than 2 out of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint, doctors are reporting, and about a million joint replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Knee replacement surgeries, for example, have more than tripled in the 45-to-64 age group over the last decade and nearly half of hip replacements now are in people under 65, federal numbers show.

RA doctors believe the boom is due to the fact that people are aware that the surgeries work and so are less willing to put up with painful joints. Any patient with severe RA is always on the lookout for ways to regain their quality of life and enjoy the freedoms a healthy body provides.

In the past, it was commonly thought that people with RA fared worse after joint replacement compared with other patients with osteoarthritis. The tide is changing on this belief, as joint replacement surgery has now been shown to be comparable to those seen in people with osteoarthritis. This is great news for those who suffer with RA and have exhausted other treatments. Surgery is likely to help. Many physical therapists have agreed that after RA patients receive their replacement surgery, the recovery time is very fast. Many factors may contribute to this.

Who are the best candidates for surgery?

Not everyone suffering from RA-related joint damage is a good candidate for surgery. Doctors take into account many factors and look at the combination of the patient's pain and loss of function, as well as X-ray evidence of advanced joint damage. Patients are also required to undergo treatment from an RA doctor prior, as surgery is not for people who haven't first tried exercise, medicines and weight loss.

The best candidates are patients with severe pain that limits their movement and where advanced X-ray damage is detected. If the pain seems out of proportion to the X-ray findings, it might indicate that the patient would benefit more from an adjustment of their medications.

The healthier, the better

It's important to look at a patient as a whole person and not just as a hip or knee. Health issues that are examined closely prior to a doctor’s approval include obesity, blood pressure, diabetes, and that there are no unaddressed cardiovascular symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath at rest. Patients who've lost a lot of muscle due to immobility don't get as much function back, so people who depend on wheelchairs may experience long and painful recovery time.

Resilience and a patient’s mental state of mind can also be a determining factor. Depressed patients don't fare as well after surgery so it needs to be treated first. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use can also weigh in.

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis visit https://southlandarthritis.com

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