Facts


Facts about Hips and Knees

One of the main reasons that people have hip or knee pain is from arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and it usually affects the cartilage in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. The job of the cartilage is to act as a cushion between the bones and to join tissue together in the knee or hip.

If you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage or cushion becomes rough and might even wear away altogether. That is why osteoarthritis is often described as a “wear and tear” disease or degenerative joint disease. Without cartilage, the bones rub against each another causing pain and making it difficult or impossible to walk, climb stairs, and bend down. Sometimes, you may hear a grating sound when the bones rub together. You may also experience stiffness and swelling around a joint. In severe cases, you may need joint replacement, which is also called arthroplasty.

Learn how to get the “Right Exercise Mix”.

How the Hip Normally Works

The hip is one of your body’s largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two main parts: a ball (femoral head) at the top of your thighbone (femur) that fits into a rounded socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis. Bands of tissue called ligaments (hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.

Total Hip Replacement

The damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. The ball (femoral head) is replaced with a metal ball and the socket (acetabulum) is replaced with a metal socket that is lined with plastic.

How the Knee Normally Works

The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is made up of the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), which rotates on the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the knee cap (patella), which slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Large ligaments attach to the femur and tibia to provide stability. The long thigh muscles give the knee strength. Even small changes in knee function can cause problems with everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs.

Total Knee Replacement

The damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. The new joint is metal and plastic. One part of the new joint goes over the end of the thigh bone and the other part attaches to the shin bone. The knee cap may get a new surface in the operation as well. The new parts connect together to make the knee joint smooth again.

Falls Can Hurt Joints Too

As you get older, your risk of falling increases. This can also lead to hip replacements and other surgeries. As always, prevention is the best medicine. Learn how to prevent falls:

Preventing Falls In and Around Your Home (Health Canada – PDF)

Exercise and Fall Prevention (Finding Balance Ontario)