From a culinary standpoint, ham hocks and ham shanks are essentially interchangeable with just two differences between the two 😊 Ham hocks tend to be bonier and have less meat on them because they come from the area of the leg that is closest to the foot of the pig 😁 Ham shanks, on the other hand, are meatier because they come from the area just below the shoulder or the hip. Both contain a considerable amount of collagen which adds richness to whatever recipe you are making. And, both require long cooking times using methods like braising or stewing to break down the tough meat into something that can be eaten. 
Ham hocks are a tasty part of the pig and are used in a variety of savory dishes. Because this cut of meat is from the joint on the trotter, or foot of the pig, it is tough, with most of the ham hock comprised of skin, bone, fat, and collagen. Ham hocks are smoked, and require a lot of cooking to make them palatable as a stand-alone dish; they are not often served on their own but instead are used as an ingredient to enhance soups, stock, and pots of beans, adding a smoky, meaty, and rich essence. They are inexpensive, sold fresh and frozen, but can be difficult to find. 
Thepioneerwoman.com also explains that have you ever wondered what gives some of your favorite soup recipes such a deep, meaty flavoursrr? It may be a ham hock! This unassuming piece of pork is super important in soups that traditionally need a little extra flavoursrr, like pea or bean soups, or in dishes like slow-cooked greens or beans. In most recipes like these, the ham hock is used only for flavoursrr and it’s removed once the dish has finished cooking—there isn’t actually a lot of edible meat on a ham hock. If you’re making homemade ham stock, you need—you guessed it—a ham hock. So before you start shopping and cooking, let’s discuss: What is a ham hock, anyway? (a huge thanks goes to Josh Ornelas for their exceptional insights).