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May 2015

Hip Replacement a Popular Choice

Pain and stiffness in the hip can make everyday activities hard to do. So much so that some sufferers may choose a hip replacement. They often do so when other treatments fail to work. A recent study highlights just how popular this procedure has become in the U.S.

Therapist helping man walk

An upward trend

As one of your body’s largest joints, the hip has a huge task. The upper part of the thighbone fits snugly into the side of your pelvic bone. This ball-and-socket design holds you up and helps you move. Some conditions—namely, osteoarthritis—can break down the cartilage between these bones. When that happens, you may feel stiffness and pain.

To ease such symptoms more people are choosing to have a hip replacement. That’s the finding of a recent government study. Researchers looked at hospital discharge data for people who had hip replacements from 2000 to 2010. Overall, the annual number of such surgeries doubled over that decade.

The increase may in part be related to patient age. Researchers noted a drop in the percentage of hip replacements among adults older than age 65. But they found an increase in such procedures for those ages 45 to 65. These younger people may want to stay active longer.

A gradual breakdown

Doctors have been doing hip replacements since the 1950s. During the procedure, a doctor replaces areas of the hip joint with artificial parts. Better designs of these parts and newer techniques have helped many people return to their normal activities. They are pain free and report no problems with function or movement.

Hip replacement can help if other treatments, such as pain relievers and exercise, don’t work. But if you are considering it, don’t dismiss the risks. These may include:

  • Dislocation of the joint

  • Infection

  • Fractures

  • Blood clots

Another major concern is normal wear and tear over time. In most cases replacement parts can last upward of 20 years. But for younger and more active adults, they may loosen or wear out sooner. If that happens, you will likely need another surgery.

Below are some ways you can prolong the life of a hip replacement:

  • Stay active. Light exercise such as walking and biking on a regular basis can keep the hip strong and flexible. Avoid high-impact activities such as running. They can break down replacement parts quicker.

  • Watch your weight. Excess pounds can put extra stress on the joint.

  • Take care not to fall. Falling may result in a broken bone and more surgery.

  • Tell your dentist you have had a hip replacement. He or she may prescribe an antibiotic before any dental work to prevent an infection.

  • See your doctor regularly. You may need periodic X-rays or other tests to check the condition of your hip joint. Your doctor may be able to spot any problems before they become serious.

 

Learn more about how a doctor does hip replacement surgery.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/28/2015
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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