How to Know When It’s Time for a Hip Replacement

It used to be that when you thought of hip replacement surgery, visions of older men and women who had fallen or had severe arthritis came to mind. But today, the number of people having hip resurfacing and hip replacement surgery in their 40’s and 50’s is on the rise.

A woman playing golf on a golf course.
Think you’re too young for hip replacement surgery? Think again.

Activity = Wear and Tear

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the cartilage around the joints, is the primary reason for needing hip replacement surgery. More and more people have hip pain at younger ages as a result of the active lifestyles they lead. Avid runners, tennis players, golfers, dancers and other athletes put strain on the hip joint that can lead to damage and pain. As we push our bodies to the limit, we tend to wear out our joints at an earlier age. Being overweight also puts more stress and strain on the joints.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 330,000 total hip replacements are performed in the U.S. each year. The main reasons people opt for this surgery are that replacement surgery typically results in less pain, more mobility, an increased ability to perform activities of daily living and a better quality of life.

Is Hip Replacement for Me?

It used to be that age was a major factor in determining if hip replacement was a good option, since most replacements only lasted about 10 years. But today’s replacement joints are more durable and last longer than the ones used in the past. That’s why doctors have found that hip replacement surgery can be a good option for healthy, younger patients. James A. Browne, MD, a physician in UVA Medical Center’s orthopedic surgery department, adds, “There has been a substantial amount of innovation in hip replacement in the past few decades. Fixation of the implants to bone has gotten more reliable, and reduced wear of the materials has improved longevity. Although there are still concerns with hip replacement in young patients, for many, the benefits outweigh the risks.”

That’s good news because people are more interested in maintaining active lifestyles well into their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. It’s not just about what you NEED to be able to do anymore. It’s about what you WANT to be able to do.

Worried About Joint Health?

Are stiffness and pain becoming part of your exercise routine? Check in with UVA’s orthopedic medicine specialists to get your joints checked.

Hip surgery is still a last resort option, reserved for when other treatments have failed. As Browne puts it, “Although many will have good implant survival and outcomes, young patients do need to understand the limitations of the technology and have appropriate expectations.”

But if pain and stiffness limit your mobility and stop you from doing the things you want to do, it may be time to talk to your doctor about whether it’s time to consider hip resurfacing or total hip replacement surgery.

 

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