When is a joint replacement used?
Joint replacements are usually used to replace the moving parts in joints that are severely affected by arthritis or trauma. They are used to relieve pain whilst maintaining motion through the joint. They are offered when all other non-surgical treatments are not effective in relieving symptoms and function of the joint is severely limited as a result.
In cases where there is a massive rotator cuff tear in the shoulder but no arthritis, there may be very little pain yet very poor movement. This condition is called pseudoparalysis of the shoulder and is not caused by arthritis. In this case, reverse total shoulder replacement can be used to restore functional movement and is not used to treat a painful arthritic joint.
Which joints can be replaced?
Most joints in the upper limb can be replaced including:
- Finger knuckles (MCPJ, PIPJ and DIPJ)
Many different implant materials and bearing surfaces are used depending on the joint loads. These include silicone, pyrocarbon, titanium, polyethylene and stainless steel.