6 common hip replacement myths busted
“My hip pain and arthritis are just part of getting older, so I should live with it.”
This is just one of the many myths Dr. Tim Schnettler, an orthopedic surgeon at Aurora Medical Center – Washington County, hears most often.
“Although wear and tear on the joints becomes more common with age, severe pain from arthritis of the hip is not something you have to suffer from,” he says. “When non-surgical treatments for arthritis, such as medications and injections, fail to provide adequate relief, hip replacement surgery is a reliable option to completely resolve the pain associated with arthritis of the hip.”
He dispels six other common misconceptions below.
- I’m too young or too old for hip replacement.
The average age of those undergoing hip replacement in 2021 in the U.S. was 66 years old. There are no age cutoffs in determining whether someone is a candidate for hip replacement. While every effort is made to avoid surgery at a very young or advanced age, hip replacement is a reliable cure for debilitating arthritis regardless of age and can be done safely with modern anesthetic techniques. The recommendation for hip replacement is made based on the severity of arthritis as well as an individual’s overall medical conditions – not solely based on age.
- My hip replacement will only last 10 years.
With modern implant designs and techniques, the likelihood of requiring additional surgery once the hip has been replaced is very rare. There is an 85-90 percent chance that a hip replacement will still function normally 20 years after surgery without the need for additional surgeries in a person’s lifetime.
- I can’t participate in sports or athletic activity after hip replacement.
One of the primary reasons to consider hip replacement is to get back to doing the physical activities that you enjoy without pain. Less invasive surgical approaches, like the anterior approach, in which surgery is performed by moving muscles to the side as opposed to cutting through muscle, allow for the return to low-impact exercise such as bike riding, golf, swimming and hiking within four to six weeks after surgery.
- I’ll be in the hospital for a week after surgery or go to a rehab facility.
With improved anesthesia and pain control technologies as well as less invasive surgical techniques, over 95 percent of patients return home either the same day of surgery or spend one night in the hospital and return home the following day after hip replacement. If a patient has more complex medical problems or does not have anyone to help around the house, it is possible to recover at a rehabilitation facility, though this can be avoided in most cases.
- I won’t be able to go up and down my stairs after surgery.
Prior to surgery, patients meet with a physical therapist to learn exercises and techniques that are helpful to practice in anticipation of surgery. Immediately following surgery, physical therapy and exercises are initiated under close supervision of a physical therapist. Navigating stairs, as well as learning techniques to bathe and care for yourself after surgery is reviewed in the hospital before returning home.
- The implanted prosthesis will not be a good fit for my small or large stature.
Modern implant designs account for all different sizes of patients. Prostheses sizes are matched to fit your anatomy, regardless of your stature. Prior to surgery, x-rays are digitally uploaded to computer software, which allows your surgeon to chose implant sizes to restore the anatomy of your hip joint and to equalize the lengths of your legs at the time of surgery.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.