The artificial joint has a limited lifespan, despite discoveries of more advanced polyethylene, and implant wear often results in joint revision surgery. However, new research has revealed that the intensity of activity has a significant impact on implant wear – greater than previously thought.
In the study, two groups of patients with high and low implant wear but the same characteristics were compared using a new sensor attached to the body to gauge their real-life activity for several days.
According to the findings, which were presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society’s 2013 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas in January, patients whose walking speed was faster and who walked more shorter distances had greater implant wear than those who walked at lower speed and walked longer distances.
It appears that implant wear in patients resembles the wear seen in car engines, where fast driving and many short trips causes more wear on the engine than slower, long-distance driving, the study author Rachel Senden commented.
The findings are important for the thousands of patients who undergo joint replacements each year as they can now be better instructed on how to protect their artificial joint from wear. This will help them understand what activities can be undertaken without affecting the implant longevity and without having to become less active, Senden added.