About the Arthroplasty for Arthritis Charity

What do we do?

We undertake research into current technologies and surgical practice in joint replacement targeted at improving the performance of implants and survival outcomes to achieve greater longevity for arthritis patients.

Founded in 1994, the Arthroplasty for Arthritis Charity was established to provide funds for research into hip replacement. The hip joint remains the primary focus of the charity today, but we now have an expanded programme that includes research on other joint replacements and trauma.

All arthroplasty procedures, including hip replacements carry a risk of failure. A new joint may become loose or dislocate, and the normal effects of wear and tear can impact on the survival of implants used in arthroplasty. Using multi-faceted initiatives, our research is targeted at improving the performance of implants used in joint replacement, particularly for the hip joint.


The main objectives of our joint replacement research are to:

Improve the quality of hip and other joint replacements
Extend the longevity of these replacements
causes of problems that may arise from current practice
Educate those involved with joint replacement surgery
Disseminate and present the findings of the research


Why is our work so important?

The public perception of a hip replacement is that it is a life altering operation. However, it is not necessarily a life lasting procedure.

Britain’s ageing population is growing at the fastest rate since the 19th century, with the number of people 62 years and over rising at the rate of 0.8% per annum. There has never been a time when joint replacement surgery has had such significance in keeping an ageing population mobile and active.

  • The oldest age groups are the fastest growing. The number of people over 85 years is expected to more than double by 2040.
  • 10 million people in the UK are now aged 65 years or over and this is expected to rise to 15 million by 2040 and 20 million by 2050.
  • Only in recent years have people over 60 years outnumbered children less than 14 years.
  • By 2035 life expectancy at birth is projected to be 94 years for males and 97 years for females.
  • With people living longer and longer, the number of people suffering from debilitating conditions will grow and the demands on the medical profession will be immense.

"The number of people suffering from debilitating conditions such as arthritis will increase, because people are living longer than ever. An ageing population has a right to expect to maintain physical activity and mobility. In turn this will help to reduce the growing problems of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. There has never before been such a demand for joint replacement solutions to enable people to enjoy a long life where mobility can be guaranteed well into old age. Research that leads to design improvements and extended longevity of these replacements is therefore of utmost importance.”

Evert Smith
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Director, Arthroplasty for Arthritis Charity


What is Arthritis?

Arthritis affects millions of people and is a painful condition that can render the affected joint dysfunctional.

Derived from the Greek word, ‘arthron’ meaning ‘joint’ and ‘itis’ meaning ‘inflammation’, ‘arthritis’ is not a new disease. It affects all mammals and has been identified in the skeletal remains of our Neolithic ancestors. Arthritis encompasses osteoarthritis and rheumatoid (inflammatory) arthritis and can adversely affect one, or all of the joints in the body. It is a painful condition that causes swelling and ultimately it can render the affected joint dysfunctional.


  • Affects millions of people in the UK
  • Incidence of osteoarthritis increases with age but mainly occurs in older people
  • Can occur in children and young people with congenital abnormalities of the hip or a shallow hip socket. This is known as acetabular dysplasia
  • Disproportionately affects women
  • Multiple joints are often affected
  • Can develop in a joint as a direct result of trauma such as a fracture to an associated bone
  • Secondary osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage is worn away and is usually caused by stress on one part of the joint

Rheumatoid (inflammatory) arthritis

  • An autoimmune disease (a disorder) in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK affected.
  • Numerous types of inflammatory arthritis.
  • Usually part of a more general illness and many joints may be affected.
  • Often causes prolonged stiffness in the mornings.
  • The hands and wrists are usually the first to be affected.
  • Can occur in children.

Who is affected by Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis affects millions of people across the UK, with around 400,000 affected by rheumatoid arthritis. The incidence of osteoarthritis increases with age, and disproportionately affects women.

Osteoarthritis affects millions of people across the UK:

  • 700,000 people have osteoarthritis in one or both hips
  • 6.5 million people have osteoarthritis in one or both knees
  • 9 million people show X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in the spine frequently causing back pain (more prevalent in men than women)
  • 10 million people consult their GP each year with arthritis and related conditions.

Economics and Hip Replacements

The life quality benefit of joint replacement surgery is immeasurable. In this regard, the cost effectiveness of such surgery is unquestionable. It is anticipated that by 2030 the volume of hip replacements performed will increase by 174%. Similarly, the success of knee replacements is likely to result in a 673% increase in demand. Research carried out by the Swedish Hip Registry is estimated to save their National Health Service more than £90 million over a 10-year period. Therefore, research must not only focus on improving the technologies and outcomes for patients, but it must also address the rising costs associated with progress.

By 2030 joint replacements are expected to increase by 673% for knees and 174% for hips. Research that combines improved outcomes with cost reductions is vital.

"My joint problems began 20 years ago at the age of 30. For years, my treatment focused on my knees resulting in many operations to realign, followed by both being replaced by the age of 45. I couldn’t understand why I was still in pain, limping and needing to walk with a stick. Referral to Mr Evert Smith resulted in my X-rays revealing I needed my left hip replaced urgently, which was organised within two weeks, and the right hip replaced within twelve months of this.

Now, for two years I have been totally free of pain and can walk short distances without limping and managed to complete a 5km walk although as slow as a tortoise, but I did it! Both legs are now the same length, and after 20 years, I have been able to resume a normal life, enjoying life to the full, working part-time, able to shop and swim! I was beginning to fear that life in my fifties would be in a wheelchair but thanks to my lovely consultant’s work, I have many good pain-free years ahead with regular checkups and have no fears of surgery now for when further replacements are needed."

Penny Lawrence, (57) Arthroplasty Patient