Latest updates on hip replacement surgery

Monday, September 2, 2013

Total hip replacement is a surgical technique that has become prevalent over the years as a means of treating hip joints that have sustained severe damage from an arthritic condition or injury, medical experts say. While it is also indicated for other related bone-related conditions, osteoarthritis of the hip – a degenerative condition marked by pain and swelling of the hip joint -- has reportedly become the most common ailment for which patients undergo the surgical treatment.

Government statistics shows that over 280,000 hip replacement procedures are annually carried out in the United States. Although thousands of patients undergo hip replacement surgery every year, however, some individuals still find themselves apprehensive to undergo the procedure. Health experts say that some patients, in fact, take their time to seek appropriate care and assistance until their symptoms become almost impossible to bear.    
Continued use of damaged hip may not only aggravate osteoarthritis-related pain, inflammation, and stiffness but may also lead to the eventual deformation of the affected joint, making it difficult for patients to perform even the simplest daily tasks. In view of this, patients are encouraged to increase conversation with their doctors about the possibility of a surgery, especially when conservative methods have already been exhausted. Read on to know more about the benefits and possible risks that may entail total hip replacement.

Advantages of Total Hip Replacement

Whether the damage may have been caused by osteoarthritis, severe trauma, hereditary deformity, or other musculoskeletal conditions, hip replacement surgery offers substantial relief from joint pain, according to medical experts. The procedure may also significantly increase flexibility and motion, allowing patients to resume their normal, day-to-day activities and improving their quality of life.

Potential Hip Replacement Surgery Risks

As were other surgical procedures or treatments, hip replacement surgery may also bear certain risks. On the other hand, medical experts note that these risks are minimal. Some of the most common complications that have been associated with total hip replacement include blood clots, nerve damage, infections, or implant-related problems, such as wear and tear, joint loosening, and dislocation. Use of hip replacement implants, particularly metal-on-metal hip devices, has also been surrounded with controversies that question the safety of these medical devices. A number of hip replacement lawsuits have also been reportedly launched by those who have had a firsthand account of the complications allegedly stemming from this type of implants.

Despite these risks, total hip replacement has been reportedly considered the safest and most reliable procedure in all of medicine. In fact, serious complications have only been found to occur in less than two percent of cases. In obtaining relief, medical experts emphasize that it is essential for patients to refrain from putting off assistance that could help them effectively improve their medical state for the long term and to weigh the benefits and risks of total hip replacement for a well-informed decision.

Some health experts have long established the notion that repetitive, high-impact physical activities, including running, could raise a person’s risk of developing arthritic knees or hip. Such long-standing view has been attributed to repeated stress that this physically demanding exercise may cause to the weight-bearing joints in the body. On the other hand, a recently published study reveals completely different results, suggesting that running, even at longer distances, may reduce a person’s risk of osteoarthritis and the need for hip replacement surgery.

Study results were reportedly based on data collected for the National Runners Health Study and the National Walkers Health Study, which were launched by Paul Williams, an exercise scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division. The analysis, which centered on the effects of running and walking to a person’s osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk, involved nearly 74,800 runners and more than 14,600 walkers who were followed for an average of seven years. In this period, 2000 runners have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Out of thousands, 250 reportedly underwent hip replacement. As many as 700 walkers, on the other hand, developed osteoarthritis and more than 100 had hip replacement surgery.

The findings, which were featured in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, further showed that participants who ran more than 1.2 miles every day have a 15 percent lower osteoarthritis risk and 35 percent reduced hip replacement risk compared to people with sedentary lifestyle. The risk reportedly remains the same even in those who ran longer distances or runners who participated in multiple marathons a year. Additionally, the study suggests that such decrease in osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk may have been partly due to the link between running and lower body mass index.

Osteoarthritis – a progressive joint disease characterized by pain and swelling at the affected joint -- has reportedly emerged as one of the leading causes of disability among older adults, health experts say. In fact, statistics shows that as many as 20 million people from the United States are enduring the debilitating symptoms of the arthritic condition. While there is no known cure for the disorder, various forms of treatments have been utilized to alleviate osteoarthritis-related pain, stiffness, and inflammation among those afflicted.

Individuals with hip osteoarthritis initially receive conservative treatments, such as pain medications or physical therapy, according to medical experts. They may also be advised to engage in physical exercises that promote strength and flexibility. However, in circumstances where non-surgical treatments failed to work, patients may be asked to undergo hip replacement surgery for relief.