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Everything You Need to Know About Total Joint Replacements

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Everything You Need to Know About Total Joint Replacements

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Matthew Lyman, Blue Mountain Hospital’s orthopedic surgeon, to discuss the role of computers in joint replacement surgery and the positive impacts these techniques can have on our patients.

“Bad joints can have an effect on the whole body. Joint pain can cause you to not exercise and gain weight which in turn puts more strain on your joints and causes more pain. It’s a vicious cycle,” said Dr. Matthew Lyman.

So, let’s start at the beginning. What is joint pain and when do patients need a replacement?

knee x-rayMost joint pain is due to osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the end of your bones (like between your femur and tibia) wears down. Osteoarthritis can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformities. In order to alleviate pain and the other symptoms, a doctor can replace or fill in the deteriorating cartilage with medical prosthetics.

Before a patient gets to the point of needing a joint replacement, there are other ways that you can try to alleviate the pain. Dr Lyman recommends trying:

  • Diet/Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Medications/Supplements
  • Walking Aids (such as canes)
  • Physical Therapy

However as the osteoarthritis progresses, a patient may realize a total (or partial) knee, hip, or shoulder replacement is necessary.. When considering where to get the surgery, keep in mind that Blue Mountain Hospital offers computer assisted joint replacement surgeries.

“I want people to know that Blue Mountain Hospital has access to the same technology as hospitals in the bigger cities. Patients can get a computer assisted knee replacement and recover at their home hospital instead of constantly traveling,” said Dr. Lyman.

prosthetic kneeIf you’re like me and picture some giant robot in the operating room making incisions and sewing stitches, let me explain. In order to do a joint replacement, the surgeon has to shape the bone to fit the prosthetic and before computer assistance doctors were having to slowly shave and cut the bone and hope that everything fits as well as possible. Computer assistance makes the process of cutting the bone to fit the prosthetic faster, easier, and more precise.

The process of computer assisted surgery for joint replacements is that the patient gets a CT scan at the hospital. The hospital then sends those CT images to a company that creates 3D renderings. Those renderings are used to build 3D models of the patient’s bones and build the cutting guides that help the surgeon make the correct cuts to your bone.

knee replacement x-ray image“Because this technique is more precise, it takes the guesswork out of the surgery which leads to better fitting replacements. When the replacements fit, it can lead to longer lasting implants, more secure prosthetics, quicker recovery, and better overall results for the patient,” said Dr. Lyman.

For more detailed information on knee and hip replacements, watch our latest seminar with Dr. Lyman here.

And, keep your eyes out for our next seminar on shoulder replacements.

If you are interested in discussing joint replacements with Dr. Lyman, give us a call and set up an appointment. We will be happy to assist you.