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Joint Replacement

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Joint replacement surgery removes damaged or diseased parts of a joint and replaces them with new, man-made parts. Replacing a joint can reduce pain and help you move and feel better. Hips and knees are replaced most often. Other joints that can be replaced include the shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows.

In a joint replacement, the abnormal bone and lining structures of the joint are removed surgical-ly, and new parts are inserted in their places. These new parts may be made of special metal or plastic or specific kinds of carbon-coated implants. The new parts allow the joints to move again with little or no pain. Finger joints (called PIP), knuckle joints (called MP) and wrist joints can all be replaced.

Causes

In a normal joint, bones have a smooth surface made of a substance called articular cartilage on their ends that allows one bone to glide easily against another. Joints are lubricated by a thin layer of fluid (synovial fluid) that acts like oil in an engine to keep parts gliding smoothly. When the articular cartilage wears out, is damaged, or the joint fluid is abnormal, problems develop, and joints often become stiff and painful. This is arthritis, which may be possible to treat with this procedure.

Recovery

Therapy supervised by a trained hand therapist is almost always required after any joint replace-ment surgery, usually for several months. Special splints are generally used depending on which joint was replaced and how the surgery was done.

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