While certainly not inevitable, joint replacement is a viable treatment option for many people with RA when the effects of joint damage is no longer being adequately managed by other means. I consider myself a veteran having had three (hip, shoulder, and knee – in that order). Pain and decreased range of motion or mobility that interfered with my ability to take care of every day tasks were the driving factors in my decisions to have joint replacement. I suspect the same is true with other patients. But what, I wondered, is the surgeon’s perspective on the subject?
Dr. William F. Tucker, Jr., MD, is a noted orthopaedic surgeon. His areas of special interest and expertise are hip and knee replacement and revision surgery and arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder. He was the first orthopaedic surgeon in Dallas to perform minimally invasive total knee replacement and performs minimally invasive hip replacement where appropriate as well. He instructs practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons in the performance of minimally invasive joint replacement and is a Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. I have been privileged that he and his wonderful staff have been taking excellent care of me for a number of years. We’ve been through a lot together. Not only did he perform both my hip and knee surgeries, he’s done multiple soft-tissue surgeries and more joint injections than I care to remember. He referred me to the highly talented and qualified surgeons who performed my shoulder replacement and back surgeries and, importantly, he’s the physician who referred me to a rheumatologist that led to my diagnosis and treatment for RA. (You can learn more about him on his website, www.williamtuckermd.com.)
The following is a recent conversation Dr. Tucker and I had about joint replacement. Note that this should not be considered medical advice. You should always discuss any medical issues and treatment with your personal health care team.
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