Body Reconstructions


The joints mobilise the rigid skeletal structure, and as we age, their condition deteriorates in line with the stresses we have placed upon them and other degenerative conditions we may have suffered. This includes:

  • Osteoarthritis - according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). This degenerative joint disease, marked by the breakdown of the joint's cartilage, is not limited to older people. Although it most commonly affects people over age 45, younger men and women also can get this disease.
    Genetically deformed joint or defective cartilage - leads to osteoarthritis.
  • Excess weight, joint fracture, ligament tears, or other injury can damage cartilage and cause osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - chronic inflammation of the joint lining causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. The inflamed lining can invade and damage bone and cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis generally starts in middle age, but can also affect children and young adults.
  • Loss of bone caused by poor blood supply (avascular necrosis)
  • Bone tumors may be other reasons for joint replacement.

The most common degenerative disease, arthritis affects a large percentage of the population and can start having mobility impacts as young as age 40.

The first line of defence is normally an exercise program and treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids.



If the exercise and anti-inflammatory programme does not work, corrective surgery such as an osteotomy can be advised.

Less complex than total hip replacement, this procedure consists of surgically repositioning the joint after damaged bone and tissue has been removed. Recovery from an osteotomy takes between six to 12 months and, while it relieves pain in many cases, some patients may find that the functioning of the hip joint continues to worsen.


Hip Resurfacing

This is an option when the femoral head is not too damaged. Instead of replacing the hip with a prosthesis, as in total hip replacement, resurfacing prosthesis designs allow the head to be preserved and reshaped. The resurfaced bone is then capped with a metal prosthesis. Like total hip replacement, the socket is fitted with a prosthesis.

In the United States, hip resurfacing is being conducted only in FDA-approved clinical studies. Presently, no manufacturer has obtained FDA approval to market its hip resurfacing design.


Joint Replacements

Fortunately, an arthritic or damaged joint can be removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. The two most commonly affected joints are the hip and knee.

The goal is to relieve the pain in the joint caused by the damage done to the cartilage. The pain may be so severe, a person will avoid using the joint, weakening the muscles around the joint and making it even more difficult to move the joint.

The most commonly used FDA-approved joint prostheses for knees and hips are made of metal and high-density polyethylene plastic. The metal used is usually titanium or a mixture of cobalt and chromium.

To solve wear problems of metal-on-polyethylene in the hip joint, three other kinds of surfaces are now being developed: metal-on-metal, ceramic-on-polyethylene, and ceramic-on-ceramic. The ceramic used is made from aluminum or zirconium chemically combined with oxygen for strength and durability.


Hip Replacement

Typically in the past, an option primarily for people over the age of 60, who were typically less active and consequently put less strain on an artificial hip than do younger, more active people. Today, hip replacement surgery can be very successful in younger people as well, allowing them to withstand more stress and strain. The overall health and activity levels of a patient are now considered more important than age in determining the success of hip replacement.

NOTE: those who suffer from severe muscle weakness or Parkinson's disease are more likely than healthier patients to damage or dislocate an artificial hip.


Knee Replacement

Total knee replacements are most often performed on patients suffering from severe arthritic conditions. Most are over the age of 55, but the procedure is performed on younger people. Individual circumstances vary, but generally you should consider total knee replacement if you have been advised by your physician or Orthopaedic consultant and:

  • You have daily pain
  • Your pain is severe enough to restrict not only work and recreation, but also everyday activities
  • You have significant stiffness in the knee
  • Your knee constantly gives way
  • You have significant deformity – lock-knees of bowlegs

In a standard total knee replacement, the damaged areas of the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap are removed and replaced with prostheses. The ends of the remaining bones are smoothed and reshaped to accommodate the prostheses. Pieces of the artificial knee are typically held in place with bone cement.


For More Information

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Arthritis Foundation

Latest News on Osteoarthritis


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