Healthy You - Every Day

Too Young for a Hip Replacement? Maybe Not

Once, hip replacement surgery was mainly for the retirement set. Today, a growing number of young and midlife adults are having the surgery too.

Today, a growing number of young and midlife adults are having hip surgery too.

Young hipsters

Arthritis, injuries and other conditions can cause serious hip damage at any age. “If the damage is bad enough, it can be painful and interfere with daily activities,” says orthopedic surgeon Christopher Ferrante, MD, with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute. Nonsurgical treatments, such as medicine and physical therapy, are tried first. But if they don’t provide enough relief, surgery may be an option.

In a hip replacement, surgeons remove damaged bone and cartilage. Then they’re replaced with sturdy artificial parts. “Today’s artificial hips can handle more strain and last longer than older models,” says orthopedic surgeon Eric Lebby, MD, with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute. Still, having the surgery while young means you might “outlive” the new hip. That’s an added consideration if you’re thinking about getting a hip replacement.

Sooner or later

Compared with older people, young hip replacement patients are sometimes in better overall health. That improves the chances of having a swift and full recovery.

Yet, there’s a downside to being younger as well. “After 15 to 20 years, the surface of the new hip joint can start to wear away,” Ferrante says. “Pain and difficulty with doing daily activities may begin making a comeback.”

In some cases, another surgery might be needed. “Young hip replacement patients may be even more likely to need a second surgery as they tend to be more active than older patients, which puts extra stress on the new hip,” Lebby says. “We regularly perform hip revision surgeries to alleviate pain and help patients get back to doing what they love.”

Hip replacement surgery may lead to dramatically reduced pain. It also may help you get back to enjoying your normal activities. But it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering this option, weigh the pros and cons carefully with your surgeon.

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