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What Is a Joint Replacement Surgeon?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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Generally, a joint replacement surgeon is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement surgery, or arthroplasty. Typically, such a surgeon works with the kinds of joints that most often experience disease and injury, like the joints of knees, hips, and elbows. Although he specializes in arthroplasty, a joint replacement surgeon often prescribes other types of treatment options for joint pain and dysfunctional joints. He might also perform other types of joint and orthopedic surgeries, such as osteotomy. When a patient experiences joint pain that his primary doctor can’t help him manage, his doctor will refer him to a joint replacement surgeon.

Joint replacement surgery is a type of orthopedic surgery, and an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in repairing and replacing joints is often referred to as a joint replacement surgeon. Some of the most common joints a joint replacement surgeon works with are the knee, elbow, and hip joints. These joints are often damaged due to injuries or arthritis.

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During arthroplasty, the joint replacement surgeon will repair or replace the dysfunctional joint. If the patient needs his joint replaced via arthroplasty, typically the surgeon will insert a prosthesis made of a sturdy material. A prosthetic joint for a knee or hip joint usually is made of plastic or metal, and a prosthetic joint for a hand often is made of a more flexible silicone rubber. Sometimes the prosthetic joint is fused or cemented to the patient’s bone, especially during cases of older, less active patients. Surgeons often leave the prosthetic joint un-cemented for younger, active patients, to allow their bones to grow to the prosthetic joint.

Depending on the diagnosis, a joint replacement surgeon might not perform arthroplasty. He may prescribe other treatment and management options. Sometimes, a surgeon will prescribe pain medication, vitamins and other supplements, and physical therapy. Canes and braces to assist with walking are sometimes considered better choices than surgery. Too, for some patients other surgical options might be more appropriate, like osteotomy, which is used to improve the alignment of a joint and bones.

A patient can find a joint replacement surgeon in much the same way he would find other types of medical and surgical specialists. Typically, a patient will see his primary care physician when he experiences joint pain. His doctor will evaluate the pain and various treatment methods. Generally, this consists of taking X-rays and trying different treatment options like pain medication and physical therapy, but such options might be ineffective depending on the joint damage. When this is the case, the doctor will refer the patient to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joints.

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