When Is Joint Preservation the Best Treatment Option?
One of the most common complaints in the medical world is of pain. Yet so many people continue to walk around experiencing some measure of it – and we know that experiencing pain is debilitating. No matter how severe the pain is, it will eventually take its toll on you, both physically and emotionally, leading to anxiety, loss of sleep, and increased dissatisfaction with life. The reality is that pain hinders you from living life to the full, can prevent you from participating in daily activities, and drain you of energy. Essentially, it negatively impacts your quality of life.
In the Orthopaedic world, we find one of the many reasons people don’t often address pain is because of fear. In our speciality this translates to fear of the possible course of treatment, worry that they might need a total hip or knee replacement and anxiety about the impact surgery may have on the rest of their life. However, not all injuries require joint replacements. In fact, at Cape Hip and Knee, we prioritise joint preservation over joint replacement.
“However, not all injuries require joint replacements.”
What is joint preservation?
Joint preservation is a less invasive medical approach to treat the joint and cause of the pain whilst still preserving the joint and trying to prevent replacement surgery. It is used as a means to prevent or delay the onset of osteoarthritis or other degenerative conditions affecting the joints and to save the joint from replacement surgery, or at least delay replacement surgery for as long as possible. While total joint replacement is often necessary and does have its place, joint preservation procedures reduce the risk of complications from implant surgery and infection. Joint preservation is most often used on the hip, knee, or shoulder but can be used for any joint.
What are the available options to preserve my joint?
Joint preservation can be done either surgically or non-surgically. One of the ways it can be achieved is through arthroscopy or keyhole surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that enables orthopaedic surgeons to perform minor procedures or diagnostic tests.
Other options for joint preservation include:
- Lifestyle modifications, such as changes to diet, meditation and pilates
- Pain killers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (under the direction of your doctor)
- Various Joint Injections
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
- Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) Injections
- Radiofrequency Ablation
- Off-loading braces
- Partial joint replacement
- Joint realignment procedures
- Cartilage transplant or restoration procedures
- Ligament reconstruction
Who is a good candidate for joint preservation?
Most often, younger people are considered better candidates for joint preservation procedures, but other factors are also taken into consideration, such as:
- Activity level
- Muscle strength and conditioning
- Degree of joint dysfunction and severity of the deterioration of the cartilage
- Location of the joint injury, i.e. hip, knee, shoulder, ankle etc.
A consultation with your doctor will help you determine if it is the best option for you.
“We prefer to save your joint rather than replace it whenever possible.”
Why joint preservation over joint replacement?
Hip or knee arthroplasty is getting safer and faster to recover from, but that does not automatically mean that it is the answer to solving your joint pain. Joint preservation procedures reduce the risk of complications from implant surgery and infection and help to maintain mobility as you age. It is often suggested to delay a total joint replacement as long as possible to avoid the need for another later in life. However, it is not always possible to preserve the joint, and a replacement might be the best course of treatment for you.
How do you know which procedure you need?
We have a team of top-ranked orthopaedic surgeons dedicated to joint preservation who prefer to save your joint rather than replace it; however, a lot will depend on your age and how severe the condition of the joint is. It is impossible to determine this without input from your doctor. They will perform a detailed analysis of the joints before exploring surgical options and will ask the following questions to ensure the optimal surgical approach is considered:
- Taking a look at your injury, do you require surgery to treat it?
- If you require surgery, what type of surgery is needed?
- What do you need to know to help prepare you for surgery, if required?
Our collaborative team approach provides assurance that we only consider the most optimal treatment for you. If surgery is recommended, we will discuss the related benefits and risks of the recommended surgical approach to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the procedure. Our objective is to help you make an informed decision regarding your joint injury and possible treatment. It is essential that you feel equipped, have peace of mind and have all your questions answered.
Recommended read: You may also find the following articles helpful should surgery be recommended >> What is the difference between Arthroplasty and Arthroscopy? and The Ins & Outs of Hip Replacement Surgery.
Book a consult with us to discuss your injury and take the next step on your road to recovery.