About Joint Replacement Surgery
Your doctor has suggested joint replacement surgery because pain in your knee or hip has become severe. Treatments to relieve pain aren’t working, and this is seriously affecting your quality of life.
Nine out of 10 people who undergo joint replacement surgery do so because they have arthritis. Over time the disease wears away the smooth cartilage that cushions and protects your joints. The bones become worn at the joint, causing discomfort, swelling and stiffness.
What happens during the surgery?
During joint replacement surgery – which is also called “arthroplasty” – your surgeon will remove the damaged parts of your joint. The remaining bone surfaces are then smoothed so there’s a better “fit” with the new artificial joint which is made of special metal and plastic.
Artificial joints are usually attached to the bones in one of two ways. Your doctor will decide which process is best for you.
- Cemented joints - The new artificial joint is attached to the bone with a special material that acts like glue, bonding it to your own bones.
- Uncemented joints - A special coating is used that allows your own bone to adhere (stick to) the new artificial joint. Over time, your body produces new bone tissue that grows into tiny spaces in the coating, attaching the new joint even more firmly.
How long will your new joint last?
Over time, artificial joints wear down or may loosen and need to be replaced. Most joint replacements last between ten and 15 years, depending on many factors, including how much stress is placed on the new joint.
The younger you are when you have the surgery and the more stress on the joint, the more likely it is that you will eventually need a second surgery to replace the first artificial joint.
Your artificial joint will last longer if you are not overweight, if you avoid hard physical work and if you avoid stressing the joint during sports or leisure activities. If you’re age 60 or older at the time of surgery, chances are that your new knee or hip will last the rest of your life.