A total joint replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces a joint of the body with an artificial joint or prosthesis. The artificial joint is made up of metal alloy, plastic, and/or ceramic materials. Various joints in the body can undergo a joint replacement, however, some of the more common regions of the body to undergo this procedure are the knee, hip, and shoulder.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the leading cause of joint replacement surgeries. OA is a result of degenerative changes or injury to the cartilage in our joints. Cartilage is a firm, but flexible, rubber-like tissue that covers the ends of bones in our joints. The role of cartilage is to assist our joints in moving smoothly. The blood supply to the cartilage in our joints is poor and therefore its potential to repair itself is low, which could lead to a progression of degeneration over time.
An arthritic or degenerative joint may be painful and influence an individual’s quality of life. Symptoms may include stiffness, pain, swelling, and/or weakness. These symptoms might influence activities like walking, standing, or stair climbing in the hip or knee. This might influence dressing, bathing, or reaching in the shoulder.
An orthopedic surgeon will decide if you are a candidate for a joint replacement following an examination and imaging. Some painful and arthritic joints do not require orthopedic surgery and can improve with physical therapy alone. Patients who undergo a total joint replacement will have physical therapy following surgery to assist in recovery.
The goal of physical therapy after a total joint replacement is to restore range of motion, increase strength, and improve a patient’s function. A physical therapist will follow a patient’s postoperative protocol, ensuring he or she is on track with his or her progress. Results Physiotherapy licensed physical therapists will combine hands-on manual therapy to address pain and stiffness. We will combine our hands-on approach with exercise to address a patient’s goals and restore function.
Degenerative changes are common as we age but not all who have osteoarthritis will require a joint replacement during their lifetime. Prevention and management of osteoarthritis can be achieved by weight management, dietary modifications, physical activity, and injury management. Physical therapy can also assist in the management of symptoms related to osteoarthritis.
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