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Should Age Be a Factor When Considering a Hip Replacement?

As hip replacement surgeries become more common, so do changes in the medical field. In the past, total hip replacements (THR) were directed more towards people in their 60s and beyond, however, in recent years an increase in younger patients has become evident. This trend is acknowledged by researchers who found a 200% increase in the number of surgeries within the 45-54 age demographic from the year 2000 to 2010, according to US Health News.

So who are the safest candidates for this procedure and is there an optimal age for the surgery?

Recovery Period

When contemplating if age is a factor in the recovery period of a THR – truth be told – it gets a bit messy. One reason a hip replacement used to be directed towards the elderly is because of their levels of inactivity during the recovery stage – since older people are generally less active than young people, this puts less strain on the artificial bones allowing them to heal faster.

However, technological advances are decreasing the importance of a lengthy and inactive recovery period. New materials that are being used for bone replacements are stronger and can withstand more exertion. US Health News also says the result of advanced therapy protocols has decreased the hospital stay and time to recover. “[The] average hospital stay is about 1.5 days for all patients, and less than that in the younger population. It’s not uncommon to see patients able to walk without assistive devices in as little as 2 to 3 weeks, and patients can often return to work in the same time frame, depending on their job requirements and motivation.”

How Long Does it Last?

The length of an effective and functional total hip replacement (THR) typically lasts 15-20 years. Recent data from American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons says that “if you have your total joint replaced today, you have a 90-95% chance that your joint will last 10 years, and a 80-85% that it will last 20 years.”

The AAHKS also said that with improvements in technology, “these numbers may improve and despite such improvements it is important to maintain long-term follow-up with your surgeon to assure your replacement is functioning appropriately”

So even though recovery times are shrinking, there is always the possibility of a repeat operation.

Hip Replacement Alternatives

With the advancements that have taken off in the THR field, there still remains serious considerations for each age group. Despite the improving technology in total hip replacements, this is a serious procedure that takes time and patience. Of course, there are several alternatives to hip replacement surgeries that have just as many success stores including: conservative management involving physical therapy and medication, hip resurfacing, partial hip replacement and viscosupplementation. For more information on total hip replacements and alternative procedures, contact us at 907-644-6055.


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