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joint pain

Nuffield Health: Put the spring back in your step, tackle your joint pain

Are you considering joint replacement surgery? Here, Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital tells you everything you need to know.

During the last half of the 20th century, hip and knee replacement was revolutionised, and patients now have high satisfaction rates in terms of pain relief and subsequent functional improvement.

Osteoarthritis is the most common condition to affect the human joint, and is the most common reason for a patient to require hip and knee replacement surgery. Affecting any joint, from the smallest to the largest, it essentially means the joint has worn out. Although a number of predisposing conditions or traumatic injuries may precipitate this degenerative condition, in the majority of cases, a cause is not identified. Osteoarthritis can have a detrimental effect on patients’ lives by affecting their walking, work, leisure activities and sleep. It occurs when the articular cartilage, which lines the joint, is gradually damaged. The function of cartilage is to decrease friction as a joint moves, but with damage, it loses its smooth gliding surface and the joint surface becomes rough. Eventually, all the cartilage is lost, which results in bone rubbing on bone.

In the early stages of osteoarthritis, simple treatments are appropriate. These include painkillers, physiotherapy, walking aids, weight loss and injections into the affected joint. However, when osteoarthritis is established, causing significant discomfort, and these treatment options are no longer effective, joint replacement surgery is often needed.

Approximately 100,000 hip and knee replacements are recorded each year in the National Joint Registry. Most patients who require a joint replacement are in their late 60s, but the operation can be performed for younger and older people.

During hip surgery, the joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. Both sides of the joint are addressed with a “cup” on the socket side (pelvis) and a stem on the thigh (femoral) side. During knee replacement, the arthritic joint is removed and the ends of the bones (femur and tibia) are replaced with a metal implant which has a plastic component, sandwiched between them. There are many designs and techniques used to perform these operations, which can be tailored to each individual patient depending on their anatomy, bone quality, age and medical history.

Last September, knee replacement surgery offered by Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital evolved with the introduction of the Stryker MakoTM robotic-arm, which assists the orthopaedic surgeon performing the surgery. This robotic-arm assisted surgery brings a range of enhanced benefits for the patient, greater surgical precision and optimisation of the component’s position, which in turn leads to decreased pain and a faster patient recovery. Currently, robotic surgery is only offered in Bristol by the Nuffield Health Hospital.

Following surgery, walking and using the replacement joint is actively encouraged, and some patients may even walk on their new joint the same day of the operation. The typical length of stay in hospital is 2-3 nights, with the focus post-op on patients’ rehabilitation. Driving is possible four to six weeks after surgery. Everyone’s recovery is different, and the physiotherapists at Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital work with you to understand your recovery goals. Whether it’s a weekly round of golf, tending to the garden, or playing with the grandchildren, our priority is getting you back to doing the things you love. Also, and at no extra cost, our private patients can also choose to use Recovery Plus, Nuffield Health’s enhanced recovery programme, which includes three months’ membership at a Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing gym.

At Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital, our team of consultant orthopaedic surgeons offer unrivalled reassurance of the highest levels in clinical care. Consultants specialising in both hip and knee replacements include Mr Richard Baker, Mr Sanchit Mehendale and Mr Michael Whitehouse. Those specialising in knee surgery include Mr Jonathan Webb, Mr Damian Clark, Mr James Robinson and Mr Hywel Davies, while Mr Stephen Eastaugh-Waring specialises in hip surgery.

For more information, call 0117 911 5339 or visit nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/bristol