Total Joint replacement is when arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic. A joint is formed by the ends of two or more bones that are connected by thick tissues. For example, the knee joint is formed by the lower leg bone (tibia and fibula) and the thighbone (femur). The hip is a ball and socket joint, formed by the upper end of the femur (the ball), and a part of the pelvis, called the acetabulum (the socket).
The bone ends of a joint are covered with a smooth layer called cartilage. Normal cartilage allows nearly frictionless and pain-free movement. When the cartilage is damaged or diseased by arthritis, joints become stiff and painful. Every joint is enclosed by a fibrous tissue envelope or a capsule with a smooth tissue lining, called the synovium. The synovium produces fluid that reduces friction and wear in a joint.
The goal is to relieve the pain in the joint caused by the damage done to the cartilage. The pain may be so severe, a person will avoid using the joint, weakening the muscles around the joint and making it even more difficult to move the joint. A physical examination, and possibly some laboratory tests and X-rays, will show the extent of damage to the joint. Total joint replacement will be considered if other treatment options will not relieve the pain and disability.