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Partial joint replacement

What is partial joint replacement?

Partial joint replacement removes damaged bone and tissue in a joint and replaces it with a prosthetic. Partial joint replacements are less invasive and may allow you to lead a more active lifestyle than with total joint replacements, as partial joint replacements only remove damaged parts of the joint instead of replacing the joint entirely. Your provider will keep undamaged bone, ligaments and tissues in your joint. The recovery time for partial joint replacement may be shorter, as well.

Someone with severe arthritis or other joint disease may benefit from partial joint replacement. Joint infection, inflammation or fractures may also make someone a good candidate for partial joint replacement.

  • Before partial joint replacement

    Before recommending partial joint replacement, your provider may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

    • Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or exercise
    • Medications
    • Injections
    • Physical therapy

    If these treatments do not help, you may be a candidate for partial joint replacement. Your provider will use X-rays to determine if surgery is the best option for you.

    Before your surgery, prepare your home so it is easy to get around while you recover. Make sure commonly used objects are easy to reach. Depending on which joint you are having replaced, you may need to practice using a walker or a cane.

    Always alert your doctor of any medications and supplements (including herbal supplements) you are currently taking before going into surgery. You may be asked to stop taking some medications.

  • During partial joint replacement

    Depending on your type of partial joint replacement, you will require general or regional anesthesia.

    While you are under anesthesia, your surgeon will make a small incision and remove the parts of your joint damaged by arthritis or joint disease, leaving the rest of the undamaged joint intact. Then, the surgeon will replace it with a plastic, ceramic or metal prosthesis. After the prosthesis is in place, the surgeon will attach it to your joint with bone cement and close the wound. The amount of time the procedure takes will depend on the joint being replaced.

  • After partial joint replacement

    After the procedure, you may be required to stay in the hospital for one to two days. However, many people are able to leave the hospital the day after their surgery. Most likely, arthritis-related pain will dramatically improve after surgery, and you will also be able to put weight on your new joint.

    Stay as active as you can after your partial joint replacement. Most forms of moderate exercise are okay, but ask your provider to be certain.

    You will also require physical therapy for a few months after your partial joint replacement. Your provider will let you know the exact amount of time you will begin therapy. Most people are able to move without assistance three to four weeks after surgery.