Preserving mobility: understanding joint preservation surgery

Written by: Mr Sebastian Dawson-Bowling
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

For individuals facing joint issues, particularly in weight-bearing areas like hips and knees, joint preservation surgery emerges as a crucial option. Highly skilled consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Sebastian Dawson-Bowling explains what joint preservation surgery entails, its benefits, and discusses considerations for those contemplating this procedure.



Understanding joint preservation surgery


Joint preservation surgery aims to prevent or delay the progression of joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis, by addressing structural abnormalities within the joint. Unlike joint replacement surgery, which involves replacing the damaged joint with prosthetic components, preservation surgery focuses on repairing or reshaping the existing joint tissues.


What are the various types of joint preservation procedures?


Several techniques fall under the umbrella of joint preservation surgery, including:


Osteotomy: This procedure involves cutting and repositioning the bones to relieve pressure on the affected joint. It helps redistribute weight, reducing stress on damaged areas and promoting healing.


Cartilage restoration: Cartilage damage is a common issue in joint disorders. Procedures like microfracture, mosaicplasty, and autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) aim to repair or replace damaged cartilage, restoring smooth joint movement.


Ligament reconstruction: Injuries to ligaments, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, can destabilise the joint. Reconstruction surgery restores ligament stability, preventing further damage and enhancing joint function.


What are the benefits of joint preservation surgery?


Preserves natural joint: Unlike joint replacement, which involves artificial components, preservation surgery maintains the natural joint anatomy. This often results in better long-term outcomes and preserves more options for future treatments.


Delaying joint replacement: By addressing joint issues early, preservation surgery can delay or even avoid the need for joint replacement surgery in the future, allowing patients to maintain an active lifestyle for longer. Restoring joint stability and repairing damaged tissues can significantly improve joint function, reducing pain and enhancing mobility.


Considerations for patients


Before opting for joint preservation surgery, patients should consider the following:


Severity of condition: Preservation surgery is most effective in the early stages of joint disease when damage is minimal. Patients with advanced joint degeneration may still benefit from preservation techniques, but outcomes can vary.


Rehabilitation: Recovery from joint preservation surgery typically involves a period of rehabilitation, including physiotherapy and a gradual reintroduction to physical activities. Patients should be prepared to commit to this process for optimal results.


Individual health factors: Patients' overall health, age, activity level, and personal goals should be taken into account when considering joint preservation surgery. A thorough discussion with a healthcare provider can help determine suitability and expected outcomes.



In conclusion, joint preservation surgery offers a promising option for individuals seeking to maintain joint function and mobility. By addressing structural issues early and preserving the natural joint, these procedures can significantly improve the quality of life for patients facing joint disorders. However, careful consideration and discussion with healthcare professionals are essential to determine the most suitable course of action for each individual.




If you require joint preservation surgery and would like to book a consultation with Mr Dawson-Bowling, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today

By Mr Sebastian Dawson-Bowling
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Sebastian Dawson-Bowling is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon based in London and Brighton, who specialises in hip and knee surgery as well as general trauma. His areas of expertise include hip and knee replacement, lower limb sports injuries, keyhole surgery and failing joint replacement. He also holds a keen interest in medical law, holding a Master’s degree in this subject.

Mr Dawson-Bowling completed his undergraduate training at Magdalene College, Cambridge and at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals. He gained extensive experience in all areas of orthopaedic surgery with subspecialist training at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

He has a strong academic interest, holding a Masters’ degree in medical law from Cardiff Law School. Mr Dawson-Bowling also completed an MSc based on his laboratory research into uncemented hip resurfacing implants.

Mr Dawson-Bowling regularly presents at international conventions, such as the British Orthopaedic Association and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He has contributed books chapters on orthopaedics, trauma and medical law and has also published orthopaedic textbooks as the lead author or editor.

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