Too young for a new hip?

Too young for a new hip?

 Published in St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Michigan Medical Report

Safa KassabWhen you're living with hip pain that won't seem to go away, as was the case for Curtis Smith, there's a good chance you're not really living. In late 2014, Curtis, a 51-year-old plant supervisor, often found himself in pain when standing, walking or even bending over to tie his shoes. Simple tasks became challenging and painful, making it harder for him to enjoy life.

Modern hip replacements

As Curtis learned after meeting with Safa Kassab, MD, a St. Joseph Mercy Oakland orthopedic surgeon, the good news was that while he was still relatively young, advancements in hip replacement surgery meant he didn't have to wait years for relief.

"Surgeons used to be reluctant to offer hip replacements to people under 60," Dr. Kassab explains. "They were concerned that younger, more active patients would put more stress on an implant and cause it to wear out faster. Medical technology and surgical methods have advanced to the point where that is simply not the case anymore."

In fact, modern implants have a much longer lifespan than those used by surgeons just a decade ago, and they are considered much more durable than the older versions. Today's implants are expected to last 20 years or more.

As a result, studies show the age of patients opting to undergo hip replacement surgery is getting younger. According to a study released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hip replacement surgeries are becoming more common among 40- and 50-year-olds. There was a 205 percent increase in the number of total hip replacements among patients age 45 to 54 (from 17,000 to 51,900 annually), the largest increase seen in any age group.

Patient speaking with doctor

Faster recovery

Though his young age was one reason Curtis delayed hip replacement surgery, the expected long recovery period and his aversion to pain and discomfort also played a role. "My hip was as good as new after less than a month," he says. "What's even more amazing is that throughout the surgery and recovery, I experienced little to no pain at all."

According to the same CDC study, from 2000 to 2010, the average length of a hospital stay after total hip replacement decreased from nearly five days to less than four days, with a home recovery period lasting anywhere from six to eight weeks. In Curtis' case, as is the case for most St. Joe patients having hip replacement surgery, he was out of the hospital in two days and was back to daily activities in just three weeks.

Dr. Kassab is also quick to highlight the pain management advancements made in recent years. "Pre-emptive pain control is gaining more and more support among orthopedic surgeons. In essence, an anesthesiologist now administers pain medication prior to surgery, stopping pain before it starts. This method minimizes pain during and after surgery while allowing enough sensation so that a patient can begin an accelerated rehabilitation program after just a few days."

Hip, hip, hooray!

If you've been dealing with hip pain that's interfering with your life and isn't responding to other treatments, ask your doctor if hip replacement surgery is an option. If so, you can schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss treatment options.