Hip & Knee joint replacements

Total knee and hip arthroscopy, otherwise known as a joint replacement has been increasing year on year in many developed countries, and insurance groups who pay for this surgery are now questioning the sustainability and value of these services. Over the last 5 years in New Zealand there has been a 16% increase in knee replacements. Statistical records for 2011 showed that just over 7000 knee replacement surgeries were performed. During 2011, within Australia, knee replacements increased to 44,500, reportedly an increase of 8% on the previous year, and hip replacements surpassed 36,000, a rise of almost 8%.

Arthroplasty, or joint replacement surgery, is typically reserved for patients with end-stage osteoarthritis that is resistant to conservative treatment strategies. Generally a knee joint replacement is very effective in relieving pain from osteoarthritis. However, it is still worthwhile noting that while surgery provides a new joint, people are still weaker and slower than others their age without osteoarthritis (Farquhar & Snyder-Mackler 2010). Despite pain relief and improvements in physical function, daily physical activity levels often remain low in the months following joint replacement (de Groot et al., 2008). Furthermore, studies have shown that a proportion of patients, between 10% and 34%, report an unfavourable pain outcome in the longer term following total joint replacement (Beswick et al., 2012). Thankfully there is a lot you can do prior to, and after you have had surgery, to ensure you have the best possible experience and outcome.

People undergoing knee replacement can often have a number of other health conditions and it has been revealed that long term, in particular 12 years following knee replacement surgery, patients are at a significantly increased risk of mortality due to secondary cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and urogenital diseases (Robertsson et al., 2007). It is of absolute importance to us at KneeCare that these health issues are taken into account when treating patients who have had or are about to undergo a joint replacement. Fortunately, many of these negative health changes are modifiable.

Your KneeCare provider can help prepare you physically for surgery and even show you predictors for your recovery. Of course we can also help those who have undergone surgery – this can be early on in the post-operative period to help get you going or down the track if you are starting to notice other secondary problems. Your general practitioner and orthopaedic surgeon will be vital in this process and we will be working with them directly to ensure the best outcome possible for you.