In joint replacement surgery we use artificial implants, or prostheses, to replace diseased or damaged bone around joints. Patients are then able to enjoy normal movement once again, as far as possible.
How much improvement there is in movement depends on the individual. It is influenced by how much the joint has deteriorated before surgery, and the condition of the muscles surrounding the joint.
It is possible to replace hip, knee, ankle, elbow and shoulder joints with artificial implants, but hip and knee replacement procedures are by far the most common. In England and Wales there are approximately 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed each year. Around the same number of hip and knee joints are replaced.
The main reason patients choose to have joint replacement surgery is because a joint has become too painful or too difficult to use during daily activities. During the operation the surgeon exposes the problem joint, and removes the joint surface and some bone tissue from the bone ends. The prosthesis is then fixed to the bone ends.
Implants last up to 15 years. They imitate the shape of bones and can be made of metal, high density polyethylene or ceramic.
Joint replacement is one of the most successful operations in the UK. But as with all surgery, there are some risks that you should discuss with your surgeon.