How Effective Is Total Joint Replacement?

Q. I have severe osteoarthritis in my hip. Is total joint arthroplasty a good option for restoring normal joint function?

A. Arthroplasty has a proven track record of success for total knee and total hip replacement for osteoarthritis. Research has shown that a majority of patients find that their expectations for returning to normal function are met. Many are disappointed, however.

In a recent study published in The Journal of Arthroplasty in October 2016, researchers compared expectations and results for 343 patients who had total hip arthroplasty and 322 patients who had total knee arthroplasty.

Patients rated their expectations before surgery and one year later on a list of items that included pain relief, mobility, the ability to perform everyday activities, and quality of life.

Before their surgeries, more than 60 percent of patients expected to get back to normal or to see significant improvement. However, more than 30 percent of total hip arthroplasty patients were disappointed with the improvements in their ability to walk long distances, climb stairs, and cut their toenails.

For the total knee arthroplasty patients, more than 30 percent had unmet expectations for being able to kneel down or squat.

If you are considering total joint arthroplasty for a hip or knee, discuss with your physician whether the results of the procedure will meet your expectations.