Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is total joint replacement surgery?

Total joint replacement procedures completely remove a damaged or arthritic joint.  It is replaced with an artificial joint implant. This procedure is usually a treatment for chronic osteoarthritis caused by aging, obesity and injury. Commonly replaced joints include the hip and knee.

Total joint replacement is only recommended when non-surgical treatment methods – such as physical therapy, weight loss and medication – fail to alleviate joint pain.

How long do artificial joints last?

On average, artificial joints have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years. Your activity, weight and age may impact how long your artificial joint will function well.

What is an ACL reconstruction?

It is a surgical procedure that repairs a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the four ligaments that help stabilize the knee. This procedure is most often performed through arthroscopic surgery, which is often an outpatient procedure and has quicker recovery times for patients.

What should I do to prepare for orthopedic surgery?

A few ideas to help you prepare for orthopedic surgery and a speedy recovery:

  • Do not eat after midnight before the surgery
  • Arrange to have someone pick you up after surgery
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Leave unneeded items (rings, watches, cell phones, etc.) at home
  • Make arrangements to accommodate your recovery needs at home and in your weekly routine:
    • Prepare a few pre-made meals to help in the transition after surgery
    • Set up your home to avoid stairs; if this is not possible, practice with crutches for safety
    • Pre-arrange rides to any appointments in coming weeks

You will receive more specific information based on your surgery and lifestyle needs. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your orthopedic surgery team.

When will I be able to go home after surgery?

If you have outpatient surgery, you will get to go home the same day. For other surgeries, your time away from home will depend on the type of surgery you have. For example, the average length of stay after total hip or knee replacement is three days.

What is lumbar spinal stenosis?

A common cause of low back pain, lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition results from the normal wear-and-tear of aging. The narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots, which may cause pain, numbness or weakness in the legs.

Various surgical and non-surgical treatments are effective at relieving pain when you have lumbar spinal stenosis:

  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroids
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic manipulation.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine sometimes found in children and adolescents. Treatment plans vary depending on severity of the curve, where it is located and the age of the child. Wearing a brace or using other non-surgical methods in some cases eases pain and keeps the curve from worsening. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

What are herniated disks?

Disks are soft pads between the vertebrae that allow the back to flex or bend. Disks also act as shock absorbers. A disk herniates, or ruptures, when part of the center pushes through the outer edge of the disk, toward the spinal canal. This shifting puts pressure on the nerves, which can result in pain, numbness or weakness in one or both legs.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine caused by postural or genetic conditions. Treatment varies depending on the reason for the curve. Specific exercises, medication and— in more severe cases—surgery can alleviate pain and straighten the spine.

What is degenerative disk disease?

With age, disks begin to wear away and shrink. In some cases, they may collapse completely, causing the joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another. This can cause pain and stiffness.

The "wear and tear" on the facet joints is referred to as osteoarthritis. It sometimes leads to more back problems including spinal stenosis.

What is sciatica?

Most commonly caused by wear-and-tear that results in a herniated disk, sciatica often feels like a bad leg cramp with a sharp or “electrical” type sensation. Pain may be most noticeable when you move, sneeze or cough. Some people also have weakness, numbness, or a sensation of burning or tingling. This pain can last for weeks before it goes away.

Treatment options include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Heat application
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery.

What are compression fractures?

Osteoporosis or weakening of the bones can lead to painful vertebral compression fractures. Outside force, such as from a fall, may cause the front part of the vertebrae to crush.  It can result in a compression fracture. If the entire vertebral column breaks, it causes a burst fracture.

The pain and deformity of the spine that result ranges from mild to severe.

Osteoporosis is the most common risk factor for compression fractures. Until recently, the only treatment was bracing and narcotic medications that frequently lead to ongoing pain and progressive deformity. New surgical methods can provide protection and relief.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. Many factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome including the anatomy of your wrist, certain underlying health problems and patterns of hand use.

Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to get worse in time and causes pain, tingling, numbing and sometimes weakness. Treatment options include:

  • Splinting
  • Applying cold
  • Medication
  • Surgery.

What is tennis elbow?

Not just for tennis players, tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in the elbow are overused, usually in repetitive motion. The pain is usually concentrated at the bony bump on the outside of the elbow where tendons attach. It can also spread to the forearm and wrist. Rest and over-the-counter medication often provide relief; if not, surgery may help.

What is trigger finger?

When you have trigger finger, one of your fingers or your thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.

Often painful, trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the finger’s tendons. Most common in women or those who have diabetes, trigger finger is most often seen in people whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions.

What are rotator cuff tears?

The rotator cuff helps to lift and rotate the arm and to stabilize the ball of the shoulder within the joint. A rotator cuff tear may be caused by an injury such as a fall or wear-and-tear. These tears cause pain in the front of the shoulder that radiates down the side of your arm. You may notice weakness of your arm and difficulty with routine activities such as combing your hair or reaching behind your back. Steroid injections, NSAIDs and physical therapy are often used effectively to heal rotator cuff tears. If you are active or use your arm for overhead work or sports, surgery may be necessary.

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