When is it time to consider joint replacement surgery?

Archive, July, Month

Technological advancements have benefits both in patients’ outcomes and recoveries.

“There are a lot of reasons why we eventually make our way to that surgery discussion.”

Dr. Michael Wagner, an orthopedic surgeon and co-director of the joint replacement program at McLaren Macomb, every day sees patients whose enjoyment of life has been limited because of pain in a joint — or multiple joints.

“Pain is definitely a big driver,” he said, “but it’s also a loss of mobility. Most people that have a hip replacement have difficulties even putting on shoes and socks. So regular activities of daily living that we otherwise wouldn’t even think twice about — as we lose that, it can be frustrating and cause more than just a physical pain and make people emotionally and mentally painful as well.”

These are the telltale signs of arthritis, says Dr. Wagner, and this loss of mobility and range can be accompanied by loss of strength and swelling. Those suffering can experience one symptom or all.

Is age a consideration?

With his years of experience performing joint replacement surgeries, Dr. Wagner has seen the age of joint replacement patients continuing to drop.

For a multitude of reasons, he said he’s performed joint replacements on many young patients, some as young as 18.

Older people can also benefit from joint replacement procedures — especially those who might think they’re “too old” and past their window for a procedure.

But with the advancements in technology, adults active into their 80s and 90s can re-gain mobility and relief from pain following a procedure.

Advances in technology

“I have seen a major difference in patient recovery since I began using the robot,” Dr. Wagner said.

One of the main advantages of using this advanced surgical technology is the recovery. Patients whose procedures were performed by the robotic arm, their recovery — including their return to activity — is substantially quicker.

In most cases, Dr. Wagner says, his patients return home a day after first setting foot into the hospital.

And they can return to their favorite activities: “I allow my patients to return to all sorts of activities,” he says.