Joint replacement procedures address persistent pain that does not improve with non-surgical alternatives such as pain medications. The most common cause of pain is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage between bones wears away. Cartilage is the white substance at the end of bones that helps the joints move without friction. It reaches peak amounts between the ages of 18 and 20 and does not regenerate. As people age, cartilage wears away, bones rub against each other and joints become stiff and painful.
Arthritis can be accelerated by genetics and by injury to the joint, even if that injury occurred decades earlier. Injury may throw the joint slightly off balance, causing faster degeneration over the years, much as tires wear down more quickly when car wheels are not properly aligned.
About five percent of patients seen at PAMF for joint replacement have rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys cartilage.
At PAMF's Center for Total Joint Replacement the most common procedures performed are hip and knee replacements. Collectively, surgeons at PAMF perform between 400 and 500 of these surgeries each year. Many people come to PAMF who have complicated conditions such as dysplasia, an abnormal development or growth of a joint. Surgeons also perform shoulder and elbow replacements and are highly experienced in revision procedures to replace prosthetic (or artificial) joints that have loosened or developed problems.