Patients experience great success with conservative treatment for their knees, hips and shoulders every day. Treatments like anti-inflammatory medication, steroid shots and gel shots often last patients a lifetime when it comes to providing pain-free movement. However, the question on the table today is: what happens when those conservative treatments no longer work? More specifically...when is it too late for a joint replacement?
The answer is multi-faceted.
For starters, having a joint replacement isn't just about replacing a joint. Before every joint replacement, a patient must receive clearance from his or her cardiologist. If conservative treatments are beginning to "wear off," and heart health is not an issue, joint replacement is an easy decision. Even if someone has an aging heart--perhaps not extrememly sick, but may have experienced a minor cardiac procedure such as a stint--a joint replacement is an excellent idea, pending cardiac clearance, because this would ensure the ability to continue to exercise and keep the heart healthy for a longer period of time.
Another example of a warning sign that the "joint replacement window is closing" is Peripheral Vascular Disease. This diesease affects the blood supply, typically beginning in the feet, and over time it moves up the leg. Once it moves above the ankle and causes ulcers, joint replacment comes with significant risk. If you have Peripheral Vascular Disease, be sure to talk with your physician about its progression and if/when it's time for a joint replacment.
Severe arthritis is possibly the number one reason for joint replacment. As joint space begins to decrease, a patient may begin to notice that the benefit of gel and steroid shots are shortened. When these benefits last six weeks or less, it may be time to change up the strategy and focus on joint replacement, if overall health allows.
If you need help deciding on which joint treatment is right for you, give us a call: 256-236-4121.
Anniston Orthopaedic Associates, P.A., is conveniently located in the Tyler Center on the campus of Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center. Our office is on the third floorwith easy access to the parking deck attached to the north side of the building.
731 Leighton Avenue, Suite 300
Anniston, Alabama 36207