Most patients enjoy an improved range of motion in the joint and relief from pain. Younger people may actually return to some form of low-impact sports activity. However, people who have degenerative or inflammatory diseases must understand that they will not suddenly have a normal joint, even while they will gain pain relief and improved function.
Morbidity and mortality rates
The number of deaths for all arthroplasty surgeries is less than 1%, with death more likely to occur among elderly patients and those with other serious medical conditions.
Pain management alone, particularly with the availability of more effective pain drugs that have fewer side effects, is the primary non-surgical option when the underlying diagnosis is a form of arthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed for arthritis sufferers, and people with RA are given certain drugs that suppress immune system activity, shown to be a factor in this type of arthritis. A range of nutritional supplements and vitamins are reported to offer health benefits to people with OA; among them, glucosamine and chondroitinsulfate have been shown to offer some relief for pain and stiffness. Weight loss is often recommended as well.
Because immobility of the affected joint can increase pain and stiffness, patients with joint disease are usually encouraged to continue some type of physical activity. Keeping the muscles strong through modest, non-weight-bearing exercise, such as stretching or swimming, is often recommended to help support the joint and maintain mobility. Various devices, such as braces or orthopedic shoes, may be recommended, as well as walking aids. Safety rails, special elevated toilet-seat extensions, bath and shower seats can make the patient more comfortable in daily life. Movement therapy, such as yoga, tai chi, and dance, may help maintain joint flexibility and slow chronic arthritis symptoms. Occupational therapy, massage therapy, and physiotherapy may help improve range of motion and overall comfort, as well as patient confidence.
Tish Davidson A.M., L. Lee Culvert, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,