Information for the public

Knee, hip or shoulder replacement: the care you should expect

Replacing a knee, hip or shoulder joint that is worn or damaged with a new, artificial one is a very common type of surgery. Most people who need a joint replacement have osteoarthritis, a condition that makes the joints stiff and painful. Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis and affects up to 9 million people in the UK. People are usually offered a joint replacement only after other treatments like pain medication, physiotherapy and lifestyle advice haven’t helped their pain or movement. There are different options in joint replacement and the right choice depends on each person’s needs and lifestyle.

We want this guideline to make a difference to people who might need a joint replacement, by making sure:

  • they get good, balanced information to help them make choices about the type of joint implant, surgery and anaesthetic
  • people have the right advice and support to prepare for surgery and understand what to expect afterwards
  • people get support and advice within a few hours of their surgery to help them start moving again and manage everyday tasks safely while recovering
  • people understand how to look after themselves and their new joint when they go home and when to go back to their normal activities.

Making decisions together

Decisions about treatment and care are best when they are made together. The team providing your care should give you clear information about the benefits and risks of treatments and procedures, talk with you about your options and listen carefully to your views and concerns.

To help you make decisions you might want to ask about:

  • The short and long-term benefits and risks of each option – do some of the risks worry you more than others?
  • How well will the joint replacement work?
  • How long will the new joint last?
  • What happens if you don’t want to have a joint replacement?

If you can’t understand the information you are given, tell your care team.

Read more about making decisions about your care.

Where can I find out more?

The NHS website has more information about joint replacement, including:

The organisation below can give you more advice and support.

NICE is not responsible for the content of these websites.

To share an experience of care you have received, contact your local Healthwatch.

We wrote this guideline with people who have had joint replacements and staff who treat and support them. All the decisions are based on the best research available.

ISBN: 978-1-4731-3723-3


This page was last updated: 04 June 2020