Joint replacement surgery

Joint replacement, a surgical procedure to remove and replace an arthritic or damaged joint with an artificial joint (called a prosthesis), may be considered only after other treatment options have failed to provide adequate relief from pain and/or disability.

Many factors are used to determine the need for joint replacement surgery. Some of the factors that you and your physician will consider are the extent and nature of the damage to the joint in question. Your physician will carefully examine X-rays to obtain this information. In some cases, options such as medication and/or specific exercises might help you manage your condition without extensive surgery. Joint replacement surgery is not a decision to be made lightly and will ultimately be arrived at after lengthy discussions with your physician.

Are you a candidate for a joint replacement surgery?

Others factors will be considered to determine if you’re a good candidate for a joint replacement, such as your overall quality of life. If you are constantly in pain or have trouble getting around, joint replacement surgery may be right for you.

If joint replacement surgery isn’t an option for you, your physician may try alternatives, such as braces or a cane to help you walk, medication, physical therapy and supplements. For some people, surgery that only addresses part of the joint or the alignment of the joint might be helpful.

Types of joint replacement surgery

When the replacement joint is inserted during surgery, it may be cemented in place or left uncemented, so that the bone will grow onto it. Often, this decision is determined by your age. Cement to hold the joint securely in place is often the better option for older people who don’t move around as much or who have weaker bones. For younger, more mobile people with stronger bones, the uncemented joint is typically the better choice.

In either case, replacement joints tend to last between 10 years to 15 years, so younger people will likely have to go through the process again at some point in their life. This is another issue to consider when thinking about whether to have joint replacement surgery.

Possible complications associated with joint replacement surgery

Although joint replacement surgery is successful in 90 percent of cases, complications may still occur, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Wound infection
  • Infection around the prosthesis
  • Blood clotting
  • Malfunction of the prosthesis (may be caused by wear and tear, breakage, dislocation or loosening)
  • Nerve injury (although rare, nerves in the surrounding area may become damaged during the surgery)

Meet the Teams

Northwestern Medicine spine surgeon Dr. Aruna Ganju performing surgery.
Northwestern Medicine offers care from teams of orthopaedic surgeons who provide advanced treatments and a collaborative philosophy of care for patients with joint problems.


The Center for Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Spine Care

The Center for Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Spine Care (CCOSC) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of the nation’s premier destinations for musculoskeletal services. With numerous medical specialists and disciplines, along with state-of-the-art imaging and operating room facilities, this collaborative environment ensures more accurate diagnoses, better patient outcomes and streamlined processes. The center specializes in:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain from nerve injuries, failed back or neck surgery
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Joint replacement
  • Peripheral nerve injuries
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation for injuries to bones, muscles, tissues, joints, central nervous system
  • Spinal disorders and injuries
  • Sports medicine
The CCOSC has several important initiatives, including the Women’s CCOSC Health Program to ensure women of all ages receive the specialized musculoskeletal care they need. The Sports Medicine, Injury and Rehabilitation Program facilitates a safe, expedient recovery and return to activity for recreational and professional athletes.

The Joint Replacement Program

The Joint Replacement Program offers care from a team of orthopaedic surgeons who provide advanced treatments and a collaborative philosophy of care for patients with joint problems that includes:

  • Advanced fellowship-trained surgeons
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Computer-assisted techniques
  • Custom-molded knee replacements
  • Joint care programs
  • Modern pain management protocols
  • Dedicated anesthesia teams
  • Specialized physical therapy
All treatments and procedures are personalized for your age, health and lifestyle.

Additional CCOSC locations include:

Northwestern Medicine River Forest
420 Thatcher Ave.
River Forest, IL

Northwestern Medicine Elmhurst
1200 S. York Road
Elmhurst, IL

To schedule an appointment at the CCOSC at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medicine River Forest and Northwestern Medicine Elmhurst, please call 855.466.7746.

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital offers comprehensive orthopaedic services and performs more orthopaedic surgeries for Lake County residents than any other hospital. More than 30 of Lake County's top orthopaedic surgeons practice at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, and many have specialized fellowship training. They perform leading-edge procedures both in Lake Forest and at the Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Surgery Center, including:

  • Ankle replacement
  • Anterior approach total hip replacement
  • Arthroscopic cartilage regeneration and reconstruction
  • Arthroscopic hip reconstruction
  • Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair
  • Cartilage repair, restoration and transplantation
  • Cervical disc replacement
  • Computer-guided customized knee replacement
  • Elbow disorders
  • Hand surgery
  • Hip replacements, total and partial
  • Knee replacements, total and partial
  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Minimally invasive knee replacement
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Orthobiologics (tissue engineering)
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Reconstruction of the knee, hip, shoulder, foot/ankle, back and hand
  • Shoulder reconstruction and replacement

To schedule an appointment please call 847.535.8500.

If you’re considering joint replacement surgery, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital have board-certified orthopaedic specialists who can help. Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) has a nationally recognized program of care to help you achieve a successful outcome. As a regional leader in joint replacement, CDH performs the second highest number of lower extremity joint replacements in Illinois, and brings you the latest advances and innovations in care, such as:

  • Shoulder and reverse shoulder replacement
  • Anterior approach to hip replacement
  • Comprehensive pain management

Radiostereometric Analysis (RSA) is also available at CDH, which allows advanced, detailed imaging of joint implants that can lead to better outcomes for joint replacement patients.

Leading-edge joint replacement surgery at CDH helps thousands of people find relief from the pain and limitations of degenerative joint disease every year.

To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists, please call 630.225.2663.

Related Resources

Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital Resources:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital Resources:

Download the Joint Replacement Online Class modules at the links below to play the voiceover-guided presentation:

Click on the file below to download instructions for the Online Class:

Take a short survey relating to your experience with the Joint Replacement Online Class.

Kishwaukee Hospital and Valley West Hospital Resources

Lake Forest Hospital Resources

Legal Information

In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.