Joint Preserving Surgery

By: Halbert Tajo

Prosthetic joints, which are usually made from plastic, metal, and other materials, are hardwearing and can provide very good levels of pain relief. However, there are instances when it is better to consider minimally invasive surgery and to look at methods of joint preserving surgery rather than joint replacement surgery. Replacement joints simply do not have the same benefits as our natural joints and this philosophy is what has driven the advancement of joint preserving surgery techniques and its introduction as a method of treating hip, knee, and other joint complaints.

The joints perform many essential tasks for the human body. Joints like the knees and hips are put under pressure every time we stand, walk, and even when we sit and lie down. This means that any potential problems in these joints may restrict movement while also causing considerably pain to surface. Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and other medications may be able to help but if the joint has suffered considerable degradation and wear then this is less of an option.

There are some circumstances where replacement is considered. If the joint has degraded to such an extent that it causes constant pain, if painkillers do not work, and if there are clinical reasons to justify a replacement then such a procedure can provide incredible levels of relief. However, joint replacement is not without its potential drawbacks and pitfalls. Recovery time will depend on how able bodied the patient is, the procedure is considered invasive, and even though an artificial joint will usually last for around 20 years it will eventually need replacing.

Joint preserving surgery may be considered beneficial for the majority of patients but it is especially beneficial in younger patients. Replacement joints can place a real financial burden on the healthcare system, or on the individual. While many will last for 20 years, it is possible that a replacement may be required every ten years. Either the NHS or the individual will need to pick up these costs. Preserving the joint will, at the very least, prolong the amount of time before the knee or hip needs replacing.

Joint replacement is considered safe but it is an invasive procedure. Joint Preserving Surgery using minimally invasive surgery, will usually result in less pain, shorter recovery time, less blood loss, and fewer potential complications as well as lower costs. Ideally, a joint should only be replaced as a last resort and all other avenues should have been fully explored before the knee, hip, or any other joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic joint.

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