Joints are the structures that hold two or more bones together and allow the body to move throughout the day. When working properly, joints are part of a well-oiled machine. If joints in places like the hip, knee, shoulder, or elbow become damaged by disease, natural wear-and-tear, or injury, however, joint restoration may be necessary. The purpose of joint restoration is to repair damaged joints and restore the normal function of the affected joint.
Conservative Joint Restoration
Conservative (non-surgical) forms of joint restoration are sometimes effective for joints that aren't severely damaged directly. For instance, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to become inflamed enough to place pressure on a joint and nearby nerves. Conservative joint restoration methods may include:
Surgical joint restoration may involve joint reconstruction or total joint replacement. Reconstruction refers to procedures that repair the damaged part of a joint and leave as much of the healthy part of the joint intact as possible. Replacement refers to the use of artificial materials to replicate the function of the original joint. The type of reconstruction recommended will depend on the severity of the damage to the joint.
Involving the use of small, metal implants, joint resurfacing corrects damage to cartilage by "plugging" holes or weak spots. The defects are covered to create a smooth surface. It's often performed on the "hip ball" part of the ball-and-socket hip joint. Resurfacing is often recommended for older patients who have progressive wear that doesn't yet require a replacement of the joint.
Biological cartilage repair procedures using healthy cartilage from non-weight-bearing areas may be recommended for patients who are younger and otherwise in good overall health. Cadaver cartilage may also be used.
Osteotomy involves a cutting of the bone in the knee joint. The procedure is usually recommended for patients in the early stages of osteoarthritis. This technique shifts the weight off of the damaged part of the joint to provide pain relief.
With tendon repair, the damaged tendons (thick, connecting tissues) are reattached to the joint. Such procedures can usually be performed arthroscopically.
Joint replacement involves the use of arthroplasty implants (metal and plastic). This form of restoration may include a partial replacement of the affected joint or the entire joint may be replaced if the damage is extensive. The prosthesis used to create the "new joint" is often customized for the patient so it will be a perfect fit for area where it will be placed. Recovery from any type of joint restoration usually involves:
Osteoarthritis and bursitis are among the most common conditions that may affect any of the joints in the body. Surgical joint restoration is often recommended only when non-surgical treatments aren't providing sufficient relief. The good news for patients is that many of the joint procedures performed today involve less-invasive techniques that may lead to a faster recovery.