Should I Undergo a Total Joint Replacement for Arthritis?

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The course of rheumatoid arthritis varies from mild disease to severe joint destructive variant that progresses rapidly, eventually leading to lots of pain and joint deformity. In advanced disease total knee arthroplasty or total joint replacement has proven to be the most successful intervention that reduces knee pain and also improves physical function of the people suffering from arthritis.
The knee is one of the most commonly affected joints in patients who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There has been many improvement and treatment modalities in this field but progressive joint destruction continuous to occur in the people who have RA and eventually such patients require joint surgery. It is proven to be the most successful intervention that reduces knee pain and improves physical function.
Study has reveled that RA patience are usually younger then osteoarthritis patience. Also there is one interesting thing that with earlier and better treatment of RA, there are fewer RA patients who needs joint replacement. It is thought that controlling the disease helps prevent joint destruction and resulting surgery.


Some factors to consider


RA usually tends to complicate joint replacement surgery. The drugs that are prescribed by the doctors for patients suffering from RA can lower the immune system which can increase chance of infection, so one need to go off the drugs for a period before and after joint replacement. This can often lead to a flare during the recovery period. Many people have other issues that can complicate surgical procedure and recuperation. This includes not only physical issues but things like depression. Also in case of RA in your neck can make it difficult to insert the breathing tube.
A person who is little mobile even walking with cane will generally find it bitter with knee or hip replacement surgery that someone who has been wheelchair bound for long period of time. Joint replacement is a bi surgery and one must be positive and thinking that the change is for good. One can be relived from intense , constant pain and limited mobility to living a bust productive life.


When is the time to consider joint replacement?


For a person with RA the answer can be more complicated than someone suffering from osteoarthritis. X-rays are pretty good indicator of joint damage. If the patience is reporting more pain than an X-ray might reflect, then it may be that RA treatment isn’t effective and their needs something extra to be done which is joint replacement. Patience with RA can expect to have positive outcomes of surgery.

Dr Dhananjay Gupta

Dr Dhananjay Gupta
Director and Senior Consultant,
Orthopaedics and Joint Reconstruction and Replacement Surgeon
Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

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