What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is also called degenerative joint disease or "wear and tear" arthritis.  It most frequently occurs in weight-bearing joints, mainly knees, hips and ankles.  This form of arthritis slowly and gradually breaks down the cartilage that covers the ends of each bone in a joint.  Cartilage acts as a shock absorber, providing a smooth surface between the bones.  However, with osteoarthritis, the smooth surface becomes rough and may even wear away completely.  Without their normal gliding surfaces, the bones grind against one another, causing inflammation, pain and restricted movement.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
The number one symptom is pain.  The pain is caused by irritation and pressure on nerve endings, as well as muscle tension and fatigue.  The second symptom is loss of easy movement.  Morning stiffness is a problem for many people.  This lack of mobility may cause the muscles to weaken.
Are there alternatives to joint replacement?
Different kinds of joint pain require different kinds of treatment.  It is important that you work closely with your doctor.

How are hip and knee replacements performed?
With total hip replacements, the surgeon removes the ball part of the joint and replaces it with a metal or ceramic ball attached to a stem that is inserted into the femur (thighbone).  This may be cemented into place with a special adhesive.  For a total knee replacement, the damaged areas of the femur, tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap) are removed and replaced by prostheses.

What is the purpose of joint replacement surgery?
The purpose is to stop the pain and allow a person to be more active and independent.  It is a quality of life issue.

How long will my new knee last?
You can expect most knees to last 18-20 years.

What are the major risks?
Most surgeries go well and without any complications.  Infection and blood clots are two serious complications that occasionally occur.  To avoid these complications, we use antibiotics and blood thinners.  Many people are concerned about developing an infection after a total joint procedure.  Peninsula Regional Medical Center is continually striving to reach our goal of zero post-operative infections. Some of the things we do to prevent infections include preparing the surgical site with Chlorhexidine antiseptic, ensuring that pre-operative antibiotics are delivered in a timely manner (usually within 60 minutes of the incision), ensuring the appropriate dose based on weight, monitoring blood sugar levels in diabetic patients and using clippers instead of razors for hair removal at the incision site.

How do I donate my own blood?
Call the Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Center at 410-912-6322 and we will assist you with your blood donation.

How long will I be in the Medical Center?
Most patients will be hospitalized for three days after their surgery.  You must achieve several goals before you can be discharged.

How long until I can drive and get back to normal?
The ability to drive depends on whether surgery was on your right leg or your left leg, and the type of car you drive (automatic or manual transmission).  If the surgery was on your left leg and you have an automatic transmission, you could be driving within 3-4 weeks.  If the surgery was on your right leg, your driving could be restricted as long as six weeks.  Getting "back to normal" will depend on your progress.