According to the National Joint Registry, around 160,000 total hip and knee replacements are performed each year across England and Wales. This number is set to double over the next decade, in part due to our ageing population, but also better prognosis and the procedures being carried out at an earlier stage than in the past.
Speak to almost anyone who has had one of these operations and they will tell you how it has changed their life by reducing pain and allowing them to get out and about again. Lasting around 10-15 years, sometimes even longer, artificial joints are an effective and empowering long-term solution for joint pain and immobility.
It’s a matter of pride for us that Spire Healthcare has been named in the Dr Foster Hospital Guide as one of the best providers of hip and knee replacement surgery in England. Here two of Spire Washington Hospital’s leading consultants, Mr Nick Shaw and Mr Shaun O’Brien explain what to look out for and when to consider surgery.
“By far and away, the greatest number of people we see through our doors are the over 60s due to natural wear and tear,” says Mr Shaw. “In many cases the lead up to a replacement is osteoarthritis, which many people suffer from later in life.
“A good indication that a hip or knee replacement may be required is if a person has pain in the joint at rest, pain strong enough to wake them up when sleeping and pain that limits mobility - ie it prevents someone walking as far as they need to or kneeling. The person is already likely to have seen their GP about it and simple pain relief is no longer enough.”
It’s not just the more mature who require knee replacements however – significant numbers of sports players also pass through Spire Washington Hospital’s doors. “Those with sports injuries are an ever increasing patient group and have different indicators to look out for,” says Mr O’Brien. “If there is immediate swelling, ie within 1-2 hours, you’ve done something significant. If swelling comes up overnight, it’s not quite as serious.
“However people should be aware that ligament damage doesn’t show up on an X-ray so if you’re told that there is nothing wrong and you’re convinced there is, be persistent or seek a second opinion – where treatment is required, it’s better to get it as soon as possible to prevent further damage being done.”
Of course any operation is a big step and both Mr O’Brien and Mr Shaw always recommend that lots of thought is given to whether a replacement is actually required or an alternative option will do. As Mr Shaw says: “Where, when and who by are critical considerations, as well as which type of replacement joint should be used. You certainly want a consultant and hospital that uses the Rapid Recovery Programme to be assured of the quickest and safest recovery possible.”
Mr O’Brien adds: “If you’re in for a knee replacement, think about pre-habilitation too. Physio beforehand to strengthen the muscle can really make a positive difference to the long-term success of the operation.”
Ultimately the replacement of a worn or damaged hip or knee can revolutionise daily life for many following just 2-5 nights in hospital, depending on which operation you have. Whether you have medical insurance in place or are paying for treatment yourself, with Spire Washington Hospital you will be seen by the foremost specialists in their field in a safe, infection-free environment. What’s more, you’ll be able to recuperate in your own private room with friends and family able to visit when you wish.